Tour + Bus + Hotel = Rotel, the hotel on wheels
By Jeff Salton
March 25, 2010
If you fancy getting amongst nature in some of the world’s wildest and most remote locations, but don’t really want to sleep in a tent, you might want to consider boarding a Rotel (rolling hotel) for your next holiday destination. The Rotel rolls a coach and hotel into one unit (or for larger groups, a bus and tag-along sleeping quarters). By day passengers sit in the front of the coach and take in all the sights, and by night they adjourn to the rear of the vehicle to enjoy their semi-private sleeping quarters.
The 50-year-old German company Rotel Tours operates these coaches in many countries around the world and appeal to budget-conscious travelers who want to see the sights but don’t like “roughing it” too much … a soft bed, solid walls to keep out the beasties, etc. The Rotel holidays are described by the organizers as journeys for active people, regardless of age.
In all, the company’s fleet of vehicles comprises 3,400 beds and caters to groups of 20-40 adults – vehicles can be upsized or downsized depending on the number of intrepid travelers.
These all-in-one tours aren’t physically demanding trips, though they encourage walks and hikes during your holiday.
Typically, the coaches are custom-modified Mercedes 0404's which feature 24 passenger seats and 26 sleeping berths (an extra one for the driver and tour guide).
While the Rotel rooms are only 3ft high, they are wide enough to deliver passengers a comfortable night’s sleep as long as you don't measure much more than the bed's length of 6ft. Though the lack of showers and bathing facilities may test you if you were expecting five-star luxury, the Rotel does include an extensive drop-down "camp kitchen" and a single toilet. The coaches also stop whenever possible at campgrounds with bathing facilities to ensure the passengers don't become too funky.
Rotels operate in Africa, Europe and Asia with the company saying it chooses the best places to stay, usually in campsites and sometimes with an occasional stay-over in hotels or lodges. It admits its drawcards are nights spent in the quiet of the deserts, the wilds of Patagonia or camps in the Serengeti.
The Rotel travel programs are designed to allow plenty of time for sightseeing, relaxing, a little walking and leisure programs. On every trip there is a detailed daily schedule and other updated information prior to departure.
The company says it upholds the cultural and traditional values of the countries and people it visits and promises to show participants an authentic view of the people, culture and nature of a country, rather than art shows and museums.
Rotel says its buys local produce to support the countries it visits and prides itself on fairness and partnerships with the local service providers.