Snowbirds Head Home Early From Ariz. Parks
Sandy Mace counts her RV park as one of the fortunate ones. Mace said Villa Alameda RV Resort is small for a Yuma, Ariz., park at about 300 spaces, but it managed to hold steady for the winter visitor season – nearly full for the most part, in fact. According to a report by the Yuma Sun, she’s heard around her RV park peers, though, that wasn’t the case for everybody.
“We were one of the luckier ones,” said Mace, an office manager at Villa Alameda.
She’s certainly appreciative of the turnout – “We have no complaints.” But she’s noticed something that’s been trending lately: earlier farewells. Although Easter, a common season-closer for many, came at the end of March this year, Mace has seen people leaving for their northern homes sooner for at least the past couple of years, and she’s not sure why.
“I cannot believe all the people that have left this early in the year.”
It was a similar story at another smaller park, OG RV Resort Park. Manager Debbie Saunders said her 146-space community doesn’t have high turnover. (She credits word-of-mouth, resident-led activities and roomier individual spaces.) So while it’s quiet now, at the peak of the season she was at 100%.
“We were completely full. I was turning away people,” she said.
But Saunders was also hearing that not every park was as packed. RVers coming by to check out the park said they found other parks with more empty pads than usual. And Saunders, too, has noticed for a few years now that people are headed to their summer homes sooner.
“Folks, especially our Canadian friends, are not staying quite as long as they could,” said Saunders, who is herself a seasonal resident from Washington state and has been at OG for eight seasons. She’s headed back north in May.
“Most seasons end about mid-April or so, but a lot of them are going home now by the end of March.”
According to Yuma Stats, RV park occupancy was at least slightly down for the 2012-2013 winter visitor season.
In January and February, when part-timers historically reach their zenith, the parks were only about 81% and 86% full, respectively. In January 2012, the parks were 85% full; in February of last year, they were at about 91%. That’s out of about 15,000 spaces around the region.
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