Lake Havasu's Cottage Industry

By Wilson, Tom R. | Parks & Recreation, December 1998 | Go to article overview

Lake Havasu's Cottage Industry


Wilson, Tom R., Parks & Recreation


The Morale, Welfare and Recreation directorate at the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center in Twentynine Palms, California, has opened eight vacation cottages on Lake Havasu, Arizona. Located just three hours from the combat center on the California-Arizona border, these new "park models" are available to marines, sailors, and other authorized military and civilian patrons.

Lake Havasu stretches across the Colorado River, offering 45 miles of water-sports action for water skiers, jet skiers, and anglers. Onshore activities at the bustling resort area include golf, jeep tours, sightseeing, and shopping. The MWR's cottages are perched on an island that is connected to the mainland by world-famous London Bridge. Tucked inside a private campground, Marine Corps guests enjoy full privileges at the park's swimming poor, private beach, free boat ramp, marina, horseshoe pits, and shuffleboard deck. The campground has its own watercraft rental center, boat storage, country store, and laundromat.

According to Terry Cunagin, MWR-Twentynine Palms recreation director, MWR invested in upgrades during construction to increase the durability of the units and enhance guest enjoyment. "During the planning stages we worked closely with the builder to customize our cottages. We upgraded the insulation, installed double-pane windows, and upgraded the size of the central air-conditioning and heating units. The cupboards were even upgraded from pressed wood to hardwood," Cunagin said.

MWR also built shaded carports and carpeted sun decks. The units are only a two-minute walk from the lake, so vinyl tile flooring was installed to allow easy cleanup after a day in the sand and water.

MWR furnished the cottages through its Marine Corps Exchange. Each unit sleeps four, with twin beds or a double bed in the bedroom and a sofa sleeper in the living room. Amenities include a dining-room set, full-size gas range and refrigerator, double sink, microwave oven, TV/VCR, cable TV, and coffee maker. Each kitchen has pots, pans, dishes, and utensils. The manufacturer designs the spacious units for long-term residence, so there's plenty of closet space and cupboard space for the visitors.

A Place of One's Own

The idea of creating a vacation spot for AirGround Combat Center personnel came shortly after MWR Director Gerald A. Marshall arrived at Twentynine Palms, according to Cunagin. Twentynine Palms is classified as a "remote and isolated" base, so recreation and vacationing are high priorities. Marshall and Cunagin saw the need to give combat-center personnel their own resort accommodations, a place where marines and sailors and their families could get away for a long weekend or a vacation.

"We selected Lake Havasu because it has year-round activities that our marines and sailors enjoy. People can water ski from spring through mid-fall. The fishing is great, especially during Havasu's mild winters," Cunagin said. London Bridge attracts thousands of tourists to the shops, restaurants, and riverfront attractions that flank the historic landmark. And if that's not enough, visitors can take a shuttle boat up the river to experience the glittering entertainment of Laughlin, Nevada. …

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