Randall Henderson, president of Nashville, Tenn.-based Signature Resorts, says the Feb. 12-13 grand opening of Signature’s second upscale resort, in Naples, Fla., sends a message to the industry and the American Class A motorhome enthusiast that good things are still happening in the high-end resort market.
“We think it’s time to start looking positive again,” Henderson told RVBUSINESS.com. “I mean, we’ve all had the same experience of shrinkage. But at some point, recovery has to start and someone has to recognize it. And we’re glad to recognize it. We think it’s here, and we’d just as soon lead off by adding some new facilities to the marketplace.”
Henderson, the founder and former president of upscale Outdoor Resorts, has been working diligently of late to reestablish Signature Resorts, previously a unit of Monaco Coach Corp., as a stand-alone brand under the 50/50 ownership of Morgan RV Resorts, Saratoga Springs, N.Y., and Sunland RV Resorts, La Jolla, Calif., respectively. Signature’s new owners purchased the company’s assets after Monaco’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
Signature currently has two resorts, 125-site Signature Resorts at Bay Harbor, Bay Harbor, Mich., and the new 184-site Naples Motorcoach Resort, which opened its doors on Jan. 4 to both purchasing and renting customers. Twenty-six of those sites are canal frontage, and 32 boat storage sites are available.
“This is one of the first motorcoach resort openings in a long while,” says Henderson. “You know, it’s on the water, which is unique down here – to be on a navigable waterway out to the Gulf of Mexico. We’ve got three swimming pools with hot tubs; that’s a lot of amenities for 184 sites, a smaller property. We’ve got a great clubhouse with card and billiard rooms and a home theater and a full-size health club. If I do say so, it’s the nicest facility that’s been built east of the Rocky Mountains in this country. I mean, it’s the Ritz-Carlton of RV resorts when you take into account the physical plant and the location. The amenities are simply nicer than anything that’s been built.”
Henderson says a good representation of industry people, from manufacturers to association execs and area dealers, are expected to attend the grand opening, which is to include a motorhome display, including a $2.2 million Liberty custom coach and the formal rollout of the redesigned high-end Newell coach.
Henderson says the resort will always retain a certain percentage of short-haul rental sites for overnight travelers in addition to the sites that are sold to long-term buyers because it’s a great way to market and remarket the facility’s sites, giving potential customers a first-hand look at the Florida resort.
So, renters will always be welcome. “That’s a norm,” he added. “We don’t really ever expect someone to just drive in and buy something. We expect them to utilize it and determine whether or not they like the area, whether or not they want to stay for extended periods, whether or not they like our services. You know, it isn’t just a matter of a good location or quality amenities any longer. It’s a matter of good services, which the hotel business has had to deal with for a long time now.”