Bella Terra of Gulf Shores is a gated luxury Class A motorcoach community and the flagship resort developed by Bella Terra Realty Holdings LLC, a resort management and development company that caters to the RV community. The 40-acre resort features a nine-acre centerpiece lake.
Its amenities include a welcome center, 6,000-square-foot clubhouse, resort style infinity edge pool and jacuzzi, fitness center, media room, business center, walking trails and croquet court. The resort offers both full ownership opportunities as well as a rental program. More information is available at www.BellaTerraRVresort.com.
Mogens Hermansen is what you’d call a working Snow Bird.
He lives in Memphis, Tenn., but spends much of the winter enjoying the sunshine in southern Alabama.
But unlike most Snow Birds, Hermansen and his wife don’t have to worry about trying to reserve a site for their 45-foot Beaver motorhome. They own an RV site at Bella Terra RV Resort in Foley, Ala. (Learn about Bella Terra RV Resort in today’s Featured Video.)
“It’s our home away from home,” said Hermanson, 59, a full-time operations manager for a global packaging company.
In fact, their RV site at Bella Terra is not their only home away from home. The Hermansens also own a site at Traverse Bay RV Resort in Acme, Mich., where they like to enjoy the summer months.
The Hermansens are part of a growing number of RVers who are purchasing RV sites at upscale RV resorts across the country, according to a news release.
“This segment of the industry is generating increasing attention from consumers,” said Linda Profaizer, president and CEO of the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC) in Larkspur, Colo.
While most campgrounds, RV parks and resorts rent their sites by the night, week or month, there are growing numbers of parks that have started selling their sites, particularly Sunbelt parks that cater to Snow Birds.
Nationally, more than 25,000 RV sites at nearly 200 RV parks and resorts are privately owned, according to David Gorin, a longtime campground industry consultant and principal of MacLean, Va.-based David Gorin & Associates.
That’s still a fraction of the market, when one considers that there are more than 8,000 private campgrounds and RV parks nationwide. But it is a significant trend, and an attractive investment option for working professionals, empty nesters and retirees who want to spend all or part of the winter in the Sunbelt, said Gorin, who also owns Holiday Cove RV Resort in Cortez, Fla., which offers RV sites for sale.
While prices for RV sites vary from roughly $50,000 to $250,000 or more, depending on the park’s location and amenities, the numbers make sense for Snow Birds who plan to spend extended periods of time in the Sunbelt.
“If someone comes down and spends $3,000 or $4,000 a year every winter in Florida, and let’s say they come down five years, they have already invested $20,000 in Florida,” said Eduard Mayer, president and CEO of Elite Resorts Management Inc., which has developed several RV resorts in Florida that sell their sites. On the other hand, many consumers do not want to commit themselves to a single location, which is why most people rent RV sites, Profaizer said.
Most RV resorts that sell their sites also set up rental pools, which enable RV site owners to generate income from their campsite when they’re away. The resorts take a percentage of the rental income to cover their management services.
The economics of modern RV resort development are also leading growing numbers of private park developers to build upscale resorts that sell their sites. “When you consider the cost of land in attractive locations, the cost of design, engineering, permitting and construction costs, it’s almost impossible to justify building a new park for a rental market only,” Gorin said.
And while the downturn in the economy has taken a toll on RV site sales, some RVers have found that they can purchase RV sites through their Individual Investment Accounts (IRAs) and 401K plans, said Tripp Keber, COO of Bella Terra Resort, which recently announced plans to begin building its second phase. “With the income that can be realized through our rental management program and the lot’s appreciation, this represents a great investment,” Keber said.
Many RV enthusiasts also like the upscale nature of RV parks and resorts that sell their sites as well as the convenience of owning their own site.
“The advantage of owning our own site is we can come and go as we please,” said Emile LaChance, an Ontario, Canada, resident who recently purchased a site at Silver Palms RV Village in Okeechobee, Fla. “If you’re renting a site,” he added, “you’ve got to be on a schedule.”
Looking to the future, Gorin said the concept of owning an RV site will continue to grow in popularity, especially in highly attractive vacation destinations and in resort locations within a two-hour drive of major cities. Gorin added that the development of new, upscale RV parks and resorts that sell their sites will also create a new supply of modern RV sites for the rental market.
Representatives from Bella Terra RV Resort announced today (Feb. 10) the launch of Phase Two of their Gulf Shores, Ala., development.
Despite concerns of the real estate market, the resort has experienced growing demand – with over 1,300 unique guest stays and a 95% positive customer satisfaction rating during the first year of operation, according to a news release.
Since completing Phase One of the resort in November 2008, Bella Terra has sold almost 90% of its initial 88 lots. Consumer demand continues to propel Bella Terra forward, with the initial development of the second phase consisting of 25 additional premium lots. Once completed, Phase Two will add a total of 88 new lots bringing the total resort to 176 units.
“We have continued to successfully sell lots at a strong velocity despite the economic trends,” said Chuck Smith, president of Bella Terra Realty Holdings LLC. “This is a true testament to both our premium product and the value buyers place on exceptional service. As a result, what we’re finding is that demand amongst Class A RVers is driving sales and occupancy rates that are off the charts.”
Onsite rental occupancy has averaged over 50% during initial off-season months. The team expects occupancy to reach near capacity during the upcoming 2010 peak season. Today, Bella Terra is widely considered the top RV resort in the Southeast, earning the highest ratings from Woodalls, Good Sam Club, Trailer Life Directory and Wheelers RV Guide. Most recently, the resort was inducted into the “Best Parks of Amercia.”
“Consumers are experiencing tremendous value as a result of their purchases at Bella Terra in Gulf Shores,” said Tripp Keber, COO at Bella Terra Realty Holdings LLC. “We continue our commitment to building the ‘best of breed’ within the RV community, as we aggressively pursue new developments in 2010 to bolster our family of lifestyle resorts.”
Phase Two lots will begin selling at pre-construction pricing on Feb. 15. Lot prices range from $99,000 to $159,000 – representing over a 20% increase from Phase One pre-construction pricing levels. Special purchase incentives will be offered for a limited time during this pre-construction phase.
For more information on Bella Terra, visit www.BellaTerraRVResort.com or call (866) 417-2416.