California Resort: From Disaster to Success
When John Croce led a group of investors to purchase Yosemite Pines RV Resort near Groveland, Calif., from a bankruptcy court seven years ago, they had their work cut out for them.
“It was a disaster when we first showed up,” Croce said in a news release. “When we first started to look at this park, it was in foreclosure, receivership and bankruptcy all at the same time.”
To make matters worse, the campground’s previous owner had not only failed to maintain the property and stripped it of its physical assets, but he had double- and triple-booked campsites and cabins to people from across the country and overseas, while pocketing the cash from these bogus reservations.
Croce found out about the previous owner’s misdeeds when he took over the property mid-2003. “We had people showing up with confirmed reservations for cabins that didn’t exist,” Croce said, adding that he spent $15,000 to $16,000 booking campsites and hotel rooms in other facilities nearby so that visitors would not have to suffer the consequences of the previous owner’s misdeeds.
“I remember we had one lady who came from England. She had already paid for a cabin, which didn’t exist. We put her up in a bed and breakfast hotel,” Croce said.
But the problems didn’t stop there. The previous owner also left town owing just about every vendor and utility company money. “The trash people almost threw me out of their office when I first showed up,” Croce said. “The same thing happened with the propane company. They had all been burned by this guy. It took a lot of convincing to explain that we were different.”
But in time, Croce succeeded in doing just that.
They joined the chamber of commerce, sponsored the local parade and other community events and informed everyone in the business community that they had no connection with the previous owner. Croce and his team also set about making more than $2 million in improvements to the park, which included upgrading the electrical and sewer services, renovating the clubhouse, general store and bathhouses, and purchasing 28 park model cabins and eight yurts, which the park uses as rental accommodations for people who don’t have a tent or RV.
As a result of their efforts, Yosemite Pines has re-established positive working relationships with the businesses and service providers in Groveland and surrounding communities, and developed a successful business base that now includes more than 40 tour groups.
“We do a lot of business with the Dutch and the Germans. There are tour groups from Europe that love our park and send groups there all the time. We just had another group come in from India. They were all doctors and attorneys and they rented all of our park models for about a week.”
The park is generating so much business, in fact, that it now generates more online reservations than any other campground in California, according to the California Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (CalARVC).
“Newport Dunes RV Resort beats us in terms of actual revenue generation, but we have the highest actual number of reservations,” Croce said, adding, “On a typical summer day, we probably have 1,000 people at Yosemite Pines.”
The park’s profitability has also increased, with revenue growing more than fivefold from $250,000 during its first year to $1.3 million or more, Croce said.
“We told members of the chamber of commerce that we could bring more people to the Groveland area than any other business in town, which we successfully did,” Croce said, adding that guests at his park patronize local businesses, providing a significant economic multiplier effect for the community as well as tens of thousands of dollars in tax revenue.
“We’re real pleased with the success John Croce has had in transforming Yosemite Pines into a true vacation destination,” said Debbie Sipe, CalARVC executive director.
Sipe added that the private campground industry is attracting growing numbers of investors who are purchasing parks and transforming them into attractive weekend retreats or vacation destinations California residents as well as visitors from outside the state. “Entrepreneurs and investors are increasingly realizing that the campground business is a viable and growing niche within the travel and tourism industry,” Sipe said, adding that the campground industry has been the most resilient segment of the tourism business during the recession.
For more information about Yosemite Pines RV Resort, contact John Croce at (714) 756-2483 or visit his website at www.yosemitepinesrv.com.