Texas Parks Bank on Snowbirds to Build Profits
Texas Campground operators, hurt by the state’s hot, dry summer, are anticipating a rebound this season because of “winter Texans,” those out-of-state residents who migrate to the warmer parts of the Lone Star State to avoid the coldest weeks back home.
“Many of our affiliates are reporting much higher bookings for the winter season than they experienced last year,” said Brian Schaeffer, executive director and CEO of the Texas Association of Campground Owners (TACO).
According to a report in the American-Statesmen, Austin, this summer’s drought hurt many RV parks and campgrounds, particularly those located on lakes or rivers.
“Last summer was the worst summer I’ve had in years due to the drought,” said Doug Shearer, owner of Parkview Riverside RV Resort in Concan, near Uvalde. “But our winter is looking good.”
Shearer said reservations were running 10% to 15% ahead of last winter.
Bryan Kastleman, managing partner at Hill Country RV Resort in New Braunfels, said his bookings are up because of more than just winter Texans. He said the surge in the San Antonio economy is creating a need for workers to find temporary places to stay.
“It’s looking really strong,” Kastleman said of the winter bookings.
Teri Blaschke, who co-owns the Hidden Valley RV Park in Von Ormy, just southwest of San Antonio, said she’s expanding because of temporary workers looking for housing.
“We’ve been full for the month, and there is no end in sight, which is wonderful,” she said.
RV parks that have park models are attractive to temporary workers.
Park models typically are 300 to 400 square feet, with the option of an additional 150 square feet of loft space for children. Some come with porches. Decks can be added once the model is anchored, its trailer hitch detached and its underside carriage hidden by skirting that matches the building’s exterior.
Ken Butschek, who owns La Hacienda RV Resort near Lake Travis, said his park models are attracting winter Texans who don’t want to drive their RVs over wintery roads.
“I’m getting a lot of people renting my park models this winter because they don’t want to rent an apartment or sign a lease,” Butschek said. “Here they don’t even have to turn on utilities. They just bring their clothes and food, and they’re good.”
Butschek said he is considering adding eight park models next year to his stock of 21 because of the winter traffic.
“It’s a market I didn’t plan on,” Butschek said.