Woodbury: Do Elevators Belong in RV Parks?
Editor’s Note: The following is a column by Chuck Woodbury, editor for RVtravel.com, offering his perspective on an upscale KOA campground in Cape Hatteras, N.C.
When is the last time you stayed in a campground with an elevator? Or one with “hotel-like suites?” My guess is never. Same here.
So I must say, I was intrigued recently by a headline in Woodall’s Campground Management with the headline “KOA resort redefining camping,” followed by news of KOA’s new and improved park in Cape Hatteras, N.C., that includes an elevator and “eight hotel-like suites.”
“We are redefining it [camping],” said KOA CEO Jim Rogers. “Camping is not about the buildings or the pools, it’s about people and the way we act. What we’re doing is attracting a mix of people who have never been to a campground. We call it genuine engagement … it’s providing something that’s missing every day. We block ourselves up, we’ve hooked ourselves up to a phone or an iPad or whatever, we don’t have that genuine engagement. Campgrounds do,” Rogers said in the article.
So, let’s see. A campground with hotel suites is helping us reengage in some way with the great outdoors? Did he really say that?
It sounds to me like KOA may be “redefining the RV park industry,” but I hope the company does not believe that elevators and hotel suites are synonymous with a camping experience. Heaven knows, even camping in our RVs is not roughing it compared to the old days when many of us camped in tents.
KOA’s PR person Mike Gast told me that KOA has no plans for other campgrounds with elevators and hotel suites. But we’ll see. Jim Rogers comes from the hotel industry and he’s a smart businessman. If Cape Hatteras fills its hotel suites (which it likely will), my bet is other high end KOA “resorts” will follow (watch a video where Jim Rogers explains the new, three-tier KOA classification system).