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Carefree RV Resorts, Tents for Troops Partnering

April 15, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Editor’s Note: The following is an exclusive report by RVing Examiner reporter Julian Gothard. 

Scottsdale Arizona-based Carefree RV Resorts has joined the rapidly increasing roll of Tents for Troops (T4T) members and brought a further 28 RV resorts — including 14 Canadian parks — into the Castle Rock, Washington-based organization’s philanthropic military camping network.

The RVing Examiner reported that the inclusion of select campgrounds from Carefree RV Resorts – which owns and operates 79 destination RV parks and manufactured home communities across North America — not only augments and strengthens the Tents for Troops roster in Florida, Texas, North Carolina, New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Arizona but also provides the T4T network with a superlative set of international credentials.

“It’s the biggest single day addition to our park roster we have ever seen,” said Charlie Curry, 57, the founder and driving force behind the diminutive 501c3 non-profit advocacy group that has since its inception in 2010, offered active military, reservists and their dependents complimentary camping across America.

To read the entire article click here.

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Carefree Buying 13 Properties in Ontario Market

January 22, 2014 by · 2 Comments 

Carefree Communities Inc. further expanded its presence in the Ontario, Canada market with the acquisition of 13 RV resorts from Toronto-based Castle Vacation Parks. The properties currently have approximately 3,000 RV sites with the capacity to expand to more than 4,250 sites.

According to a press release, 10 of the 13 properties are located on lakes and offer scenic waterfront sites and outdoor recreational amenities and activities, according to a press release. Carefree now has 15 properties in the Ontario market, all of which are within a two-hour drive of Toronto.

David Napp, CEO of Carefree Communities, noted, “The Castle Vacation Park acquisition provides Carefree a fantastic opportunity to expand in the Ontario market and continue our growth following our successful acquisition of Sherkston Shores RV Resort in 2013.”

Napp believes the new Canadian parks complement Carefree’s existing U.S. portfolio well. “We look forward to offering our new customers access to our great communities throughout established Florida markets, as we believe many Canadians aspire to spend their winters in Florida.”

The 13 properties include Deer Lake Park in Huntsville, Hidden Valley Park in Normandale, Gulliver’s Lake Resort Park in Hamilton, Trailside Park in Parry Sound, Woodland Lake RV Resort in Bornholm, Silver Birches Resort in Lambton Shores, Willow Lake Resort Park in Scotland, Pickerel Park in Napanee, Grand Oaks Resort Park in Cayuga, Arran Lake Resort in Allenford, Lafontaine Park in Penetanguishene, Lake Avenue Resort in Prince Edward and Craigleith Resort Park in Blue Mountains.

The properties will be marketed using the Carefree RV Resort brand name which Carefree Communities uses for all of its destination RV resorts in North America.

The acquisition was financed with General Electric Capital and Carefree was represented by Aird & Berlis LLP.

 

 

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Carefree RV Resorts Extending Veteran Discount

November 12, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Carefree RV Resorts announced that it will offer permanent 50% nightly discounts to active and veteran military servicemen and women and their families at 40 parks in Florida, Texas, New Jersey, North Carolina and California for another year.

“At Carefree RV Resorts we value all of our customers, but it is with great pride that we get to continue to extend our 50% discount to the active and veteran servicemen and -women who protect our country’s democracy and keep us safe,” said Mike Rosenhagen, a retired U.S. Army major who now serves as Carefree RV Resorts’ vice president of operations.

“For the past three years this program has seen extreme success and has given countless veterans and active military members family memories that they may not have otherwise experienced. We encourage all military personnel to take advantage of this promotion by showing their military ID or other form of identification that shows their service,” Rosenhagen said. The discounts also apply to immediate family members who are traveling with active or veteran military.

The discount is being offered on a space-available basis for nightly rates and cannot be combined with any other discount programs.The discount also cannot be used on holiday weekends, with the exception of Veteran’s Day weekend.

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Equity Firm Joins Ariz.-based Carefree Family

July 12, 2013 by · 1 Comment 

Centerbridge Capital Partners II L.P. and its related entities have formed a new business called Carefree Communities Inc. for the ownership and operation of destination recreational vehicle resorts and senior manufactured housing communities, according to a news release.

Carefree is the result of Centerbridge’s June 2  acquisition of National RV Communities LLC (NRVC), an owner and operator of 61 destination RV resorts and senior MH communities from Almanac Realty Securities IV LP (Almanac), an investment fund managed by Almanac Realty Investors. NRVC is headquartered in Scottsdale, Ariz., and operates communities in seven states and Canada, with the majority located in Florida.

The company will operate under the Carefree RV Resorts and Carefree Communities brands. NRVC’s CEO David A. Napp and President Colleen S. Edwards have co-invested alongside Centerbridge and will lead and manage Carefree.

As of July 11, Carefree has completed the acquisition of three additional properties: Sun-N-Fun RV Resort in Sarasota, Fla., Sherkston Shores RV Resort in Port Colborne, Ontario, and Regency Heights in Clearwater, Fla; and acquired a leasehold interest in a fourth property, Tropical Palms RV Resort in Kissimmee, Fla. Including these acquisitions, the combined Carefree platform now has an aggregate asset value of approximately $650 million.

William D. Rahm, Centerbridge senior managing director, said, “We believe this investment represents a compelling opportunity to back a strong and highly experienced management team in an attractive sector. Carefree is well-positioned to acquire additional senior manufactured housing and recreational vehicle communities in what remains a very fragmented industry. We look forward to working with the Carefree team to build the leading franchise serving active adults in the destination RV and senior MH resort sectors.”

Napp said, “We are excited to partner with Centerbridge and feel the acquisition of the new communities positions us as a leader in our industry. We will continue to focus on providing our active guests a memorable experience through communities that offer vibrant resort-style living, friendly and helpful associates, well maintained facilities, and efficient operations, as we acquire additional properties to extend Carefree’s role in our sectors.”

 

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Industry Vet Fives Joining Carefree RV Resorts

October 9, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Scottsdale, Ariz.-based National RV Communities LLC has hired longtime RV industry executive Carl Fives as a regional vice president who will help manage the company’s RV and manufactured home communities in Florida.

“Carl brings impeccable credentials and a depth of knowledge and experience that will nicely complement our management team,” said Colleen Edwards, president of National RV Communities (NRVC), which markets its properties using the Carefree RV Resorts brand name.

Fives joins Carefree RV Resorts after spending six years with Kampgrounds of America Inc. (KOA), where he served as a regional vice president of the company’s northeast region.

Prior to joining KOA, Fives spent two years with Chicago-based Equity Lifestyle Properties (ELS) and five years as a senior vice president of Scottsdale-based National Home Communities, which at that time was the parent company of Encore resorts.

Fives also spent five years with Camp Coast to Coast, a membership club operated by the Affinity Group Inc., and seven years with American Adventures, a private membership camping club.

Fives launched his career with a 10-year stint with Busch Gardens, where he eventually became operations manager of Sesame Place, a children’s theme park in Dallas, Texas. He holds a bachelor’s degree in history with a minor in economics from Mount St. Mary’s University in Maryland.

Founded in 2005, NRVC is the nation’s 10th largest owner/operator of destination RV and manufactured housing communities in the U.S. and Canada with 59 communities containing more than 13,300 sites. For more information, visit www.carefreervresorts.com.

 

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Carefree RV Resorts Experiencing ‘Stellar Year’

September 19, 2012 by · 1 Comment 

National RV Communities LLC (NRVC) is having “a stellar year,” CEO Dave Napp told Woodall’s Campground Management.

In exclusive comments to WCM, Napp said the Scottsdale, Ariz.-based NRVC, doing business as Carefree RV Resorts, combined RV and manufactured housing (MH) community revenues are up 6.71% year-to-date through July over the same seven-month period for 2011.

NRVC is the nation’s 10th largest owner/operator of destination RV and manufactured housing communities in the U.S. and Canada.

“We continue to aggressively manage expenses and have experienced only a 1.88% increase in expenses year-to-date through July 2012 over the same seven-month period for 2011,” Napp said. “The combined increase in revenues and holding down expense increases has resulted in a 10.5% increase in our net operating income over last year. In the midst of a recession, this is a spectacular result and is a credit to our senior management team, property managers and our entire associate staff for staying the course and keeping true to our Carefree mission.”

 

NRVC’s 58 communities contain more than 13,300 sites. Of the 58 properties, 46 are located in Florida. Other properties are located in Texas (4), New Jersey (3) and one each in California, Ontario, Massachusetts, Arizona and North Carolina.

Napp projects 2012 revenues from all 58 properties to reach $56 million and operating expenses to total $24.7 million, yielding net income of $31.2 million. He places the fair market value of the combined properties at $462 million.

Other Highlights

In addition to delivering these financial results, Carefree has been executing an aggressive agenda to secure its future growth as well, he said. Some of the highlights

• Upgrading front office software to Resort Data Processing. This involved converting 39 parks to the new operating system and is a major initiative for Carefree allowing the company to not only better manage its site inventory and allow it to fully use the Internet as a booking engine, but also greatly enhance the company’s ability to communicate with its customers and thus develop a more meaningful relationship with them.

• Launching a New Website. In concert with upgrading its front office system, Carefree is also launching a new website in October. “The new site gets right to the heart of our customer, is easy to navigate, provides great information on our properties and surrounding areas and most importantly allows for an endless range of reservation booking options,” Napp said. “The new site is clean and original and will be a definite WOW for the RV industry.”

• Launching the Fall Semester of Carefree College. This fall the company is starting to host training programs from Dunedin RV Resort in Florida where it has the classroom space and motel accommodations to allow it to bring in groups of property managers and on-site staff members for training seminars and work groups. The three-prong training program will provide group work sessions in more of a classroom setting; web- based training sessions implementing the work that Blake Ashdown has done in developing web-based training programs; and on-location training sessions on topics such as property maintenance, front desk interactions and Carefree branding “look and feel.” “We feel strongly that the best-trained staff provides the best quality customer service and at Carefree that is our No. 1 operating goal,” Napp said.

• Redevelopment of Sunset Harbor in Key West. The redeveloped manufactured housing property on Stock Island, which will have its grand opening this fall, will feature a large waterfront pool, pavilion, bathhouse and outdoor grilling area, 39 canal front sites with private docks and 13 water view sites overlooking Cow Key Marina. The company’s home design team worked closely with Jacobsen Homes to design three large floorplans featuring two bedrooms, two bathrooms, metal roofs, hardy board siding and porches. These Jacobsen homes have great Key West style furnishings and just cry out “Margaretaville,” Napp said. “We really have developed what we believe is the best housing value in the Key West market providing the perfect Florida Keys experience “Fun, Sun and Blue Waters.”

Background

Founded in 2005 by Napp and Colleen Edwards, the company is in an expansion mode.

Historically, the company has sought properties in key destination vacation markets that have a proven history of attracting both leisure travelers and retirees seeking warm weather.

NRVC wholly owns 47 of its RV and MH communities and owns a 20% interest in the remaining 11 MH properties, pursuant to a joint venture with GE Capital (National Home Communities or NHC).

The 47 RV and MH properties total 11,500 sites with a gross market value of approximately $380 million, according to an executive summary of the NRVC operations. The 2012 budgeted net operating income is approximately $26 million, including new acquisitions.

NHC owns and operates 11 MH properties located in Florida totaling 1,800 MH sites with a gross fair market value of approximately $83 million. The 2012 budgeted net operating income of these 11 MH properties is approximately $5.2 million.

NRVC is owned by its management team and Almanac Realty Investors, formerly known as Rothschild Realty Inc., a New York City-based real estate investment adviser to public and private institutional pension plans, endowments and foundations. Almanac has invested $115 million in the company since 2005.

GE Capital has provided some $190 million during its long-term relationship with NRVC.

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Carefree RV Resorts Seeks Expansion Funding

April 23, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

National RV Communities LLC (NRVC) is seeking to finance an aggressive acquisition plan by tapping the private equity market for up to $400 million in new capital.

Woodall’s Campground Management reported that Scottsdale, Ariz.-based NRVC, doing business as Carefree RV Resorts, has held informal talks this spring with potential investors and has scheduled four formal sessions this week in New York City.

“It’s an exciting time. The initial response we have been getting is phenomenal,” said David A. Napp, NRVC chairman and CEO.

The new capital would help NRVC go forward with its plan to double in size within the next five years.

Founded in 2005, NRVC is the nation’s 10th largest owner/operator of destination RV and manufactured housing (MH) communities in the U.S. and Canada with 58 communities containing more than 13,300 sites. Of the 58 properties, 46 are located in Florida. Other properties are located in Texas (4), New Jersey (3) and one each in California, Ontario, Massachusetts, Arizona and North Carolina.

Napp told Woodall’s Campground Management that his company has its eye on a number of prime parks across the U.S.

“I have a priority list,” he said. “Once the capital needed is secured, I’ll be paying some people some visits. A good number are in Florida; some are in California and Arizona. The Eastern Seaboard also represents some great opportunities, like Myrtle Beach, Cape May and Cape Cod.” He was not more specific about locations of prospective acquisitions.

“A real driving force is being on or close to water,” he added.

Historically, the company has sought properties in key destination vacation markets that have a proven history of attracting both leisure travelers and retirees seeking warm weather.

NRVC wholly owns 47 of its RV and MH communities and owns a 20% interest in the remaining 11 MH properties, pursuant to a joint venture with GE Capital (National Home Communities or NHC).

The 47 RV and MH properties total 11,500 sites with a gross market value of approximately $380 million, according to an executive summary of the NRVC operations. The 2012 budgeted net operating income is approximately $26 million, including new acquisitions.

According to Woodall’s Campground Management, NHC owns and operates 11 MH properties located in Florida totaling 1,800 MH sites with a gross fair market value of approximately $83 million. The 2012 budgeted net operating income of these 11 MH properties is approximately $5.2 million.

Napp projects 2012 revenues from all 58 properties to reach $56 million and operating expenses to total $24.7 million, yielding net income of $31.2 million.

He places the fair market value of the combined properties at $462 million.

NRVC is owned by its management team and Almanac Realty Investors, formerly known as Rothschild Realty Inc., a New York City-based real estate investment adviser to public and private institutional pension plans, endowments and foundations. Almanac has invested $115 million in the company since 2005.

GE Capital has provided some $190 million during its long-term relationship with NRVC, Napp added.

Napp said he and founding partner Colleen Edwards are excited about their future in the RV and MH business.

“If the first quarter is any indication, we are seeing stabilization if not a slight upswing in our business,” he said. “I think the opportunities are good out there. We have done well in the recession. We are lining up all the elements for our next level of growth. Over the last 18 months we have analyzed our business internally and decided what we need to do to double our size over the next three to four years.”

In a somewhat related development, Napp noted that Carefree RV Resorts recently partnered with Resort Data Processing Inc., which will provide property management software and reservation software.

Background

Carefree’s principals have a 17-year track record in the destination RV resort and MH industries. They have:

• Acquired and operated 106 RV and MH properties comprising over 30,000 sites.

• Raised over $250 million in private equity and borrowed approximately $880 million in mortgage debt for acquisition financing and refinancing.

• Become one of the first groups to bring institutional capital into the RV resort sector.

• Launched three national destination RV resort brands (Encore, Sunburst and Carefree).

• Operated two park model and manufactured home sales companies with over 2,500 new and pre-owned homes sold since 1996.

 

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Carefree Resorts’ Offer Entices Fla. Snowbirds

November 10, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Carefree RV Resorts in Florida are making an offer many snowbirds will find hard to refuse: free rent in November and December, provided they pay for January, February and March up front.

“This offer only applies to snowbirds who haven’t stayed with us before,” Stephanie Martin, a Carefree spokeswoman, stated in a news release. The special offer does not cover taxes and electricity charges.

Carefee is offering the promotion as part of an ongoing effort to step up its competition with other RV resorts in Florida that cater to snowbirds during the winter months. “We think this offer will help us entice snowbirds who haven’t stayed with us before,” Martin said.

Carefree has more than 25 RV resorts in Florida, including the Florida Keys. All properties have a wide variety of amenities including, clubhouse, swimming pool and planned activities programs. Some properties also have rental units, which can accommodate people who don’t have their own RV.

Scottsdale, Ariz.-based Carefree RV Resorts offers a wide variety of RV campgrounds throughout Florida, Texas, New Jersey, California and Massachusetts for every type of RV vacation. For more information, visit the company’s website at www.carefreervresorts.com.

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Carefree RV Resorts Launches Vet Discounts

November 10, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Carefree RV Resorts today (Nov. 10) announced that it will offer permanent 50% nightly discounts to active and veteran military servicemen and women and their families at 35 parks in Florida, Texas, New Jersey, North Carolina and California.

“At Carefree RV Resorts we value all of our customers, but it is with great pride that we get to offer discounts to the active and veteran servicemen and women who protect our country’s democracy and keep us safe,” Mike Rosenhagen, a retired U.S. Army major who now serves as Carefree RV Resort’s vice president of operations, stated in a news release.

“With this in mind, we are not only offering veterans a 50% nightly discount over Veterans Day weekend, but we are making the discount permanent.”

“All veterans need to do to take advantage of this promotion is show their military ID or other form of identification that shows their service,” Rosenhagen said, adding that the discounts also apply to immediate family members who are traveling with active or veteran military.

The discounts are being offered on a space available basis and cannot be combined with any other discount programs. The discount also cannot be used on holiday weekends.

Scottsdale, Ariz.-based Carefree RV Resorts offers a wide variety of RV campgrounds throughout Florida, Texas, New Jersey, California and Massachusetts for every type of RV vacation. All properties have a wide variety of amenities including, clubhouse, swimming pool, planned activities programs as well as rental units, which can accommodate people who don’t have their own RV.

For more information, visit the company’s website at www.carefreervresorts.com.

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Texas Parks Appealing to Non-RV Business

July 6, 2010 by · 1 Comment 

An industry built on wanderlust is surviving on the notion of “wander less.”

Texas RV campgrounds are part of a national trend of anchoring specialty vehicles, called park models , which look and feel like small cottages, for rent or purchase, according to the Austin (Texas) American-Statesman.

Forty percent of Texas recreational vehicle campgrounds have introduced the models, twice the rate of five years ago, to appeal to a broader market and to increase revenues, according to the Texas Association of Campground Owners (TACO).

“There’s a good segment of the population that wants to experience the campground experience but don’t own an RV, and they don’t want to sleep in a tent,” said Brian Schaeffer, the association’s executive director.

Consider the state of the RV manufacturing industry, as compiled by the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA): One in 12 vehicle-owning U.S. households owned a recreational vehicle in 2005. Shipments of new RVs of all kinds were down more than 57% in 2009 from the industry’s record year in 2006. And the continuation of an uptick in shipments this year depends on a healthy economic rebound — something that’s not at all guaranteed.

At RV parks, however, the story is brighter.

Despite the recession and fluctuating fuel prices, reservations at RV parks were up 8% in 2009, and rentals of park models were up 20%, according to the industry, as many people were looking for cheaper, shorter vacations.

“The idea of driving to the Grand Canyon isn’t happening as much as it used to,” Schaeffer said. “They are looking for something nearer to home.”

To campground owners and managers, the park models make sense as an alternative to hotels.

“People who had been in the business a lot longer than me said everyone in the business should have them,” said Bryan Kastleman, president of the management company for Hill Country RV Resort in New Braunfels.

He said the owners have invested $1 million in the park, including adding 33 park models, in the past two years.

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 the underside carriage hidden by skirting that matches the building’s exterior.

‘Little houses’

“They’re not cabins,” said Ken Butschek, the owner of La Hacienda RV Resort & Cottages, on Hudson Bend Road on the way to Lake Travis. “They’re little houses.”

The cottages are free-standing (no common walls) with full kitchens, wood laminate floors and high ceilings. They are typically equipped with the comforts of home: high-definition televisions, air conditioning, linens, microwaves, coffee pot and dishes.

“Bring your clothes and your ice chest, and you’re good,” Butschek said.

Butschek said he started with two models when he opened in 2004, has 15 today and expects to add more.

Austin Lone Star RV Resort, which has been in business for 40 years at Interstate 35 and William Cannon Drive, has just taken delivery of its first park model, manager Sharon Knopf said.

“We’re looking to sell them,” Knopf said.

The national chain, Carefree RV Resorts, bought the local site four years ago. The chain, Knopf said, has a track record of selling park models and leasing the plots where they are anchored.

“They are very popular in Florida,” Knopf said.

Rents for the models vary by size, season, locale and duration of your stay. Daily rents can range from $80 to $195, as opposed to $20 to $50 for a spot for an RV. Weekly or monthly rates are cheaper. The larger cottages can sleep eight.

Butschek doubles as a dealer for Athens Parks Homes. He said a basic model, including setup, could cost $28,000 to $42,000, plus customized finish-out.

Leasing a plot at La Hacienda, which is about a quarter of a mile from Lake Travis, would run $475 to $600 a month. “You can have a lake house for under $60,000,” Butschek said.

One perk: no property taxes, because a park model is legally a vehicle — albeit one that doesn’t move very often — instead of real estate.

La Hacienda’s amenities include a covered pavilion, two saline swimming pools, hot tub, spa, fitness center, laundry, cable TV and Wi-Fi Internet access.

Besides modern-day convenience, RV park owners are selling what they call the “campground experience,” which is a mixture of summer camp, Bohemian lifestyle and communal hearth.

“On a scale of one to 10, it’s an 11,” said Barbara Roach, a retiree who’s been based at La Hacienda for more than three years.

The widow drives her 30-foot motor home with Jeep in tow between Montana, Fla., and Austin to visit grandchildren. “It’s a cheap way of living,” she said.

RV living

Donna Holzhueter and Kevin Lassing, still in their 40s, left Madison, Wis., for the road two years ago.

“We were thinking of buying a house,” Lassing said, “but my wife thought it’d be fun to travel until we’re broke.”

To Holzhueter, who had worked 24 years in government, “what’s important are the experiences, not the stuff you’ve collected.”

Despite the vagabond lifestyle, she’s joined the segment of the economy that works from home — though from her RV. She does online technical support for a company.

Her husband is a “work camper,” who trades part-time work at the RV campgrounds for rent.

A few yards away, at a party building, a band is rehearsing in the middle of the afternoon.

Freddy Powers, a singer-songwriter who toured for years with Merle Haggard, is preparing his band, Stop the Truck, for an appearance at Willie Nelson’s Fourth of July picnic.

Powers and his wife, Catherine, sold their house and donated his memorabilia to Texas State University in San Marcos after he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.

They are now living the RV lifestyle.

“He’s lived most of his life touring on a bus,” Catherine said of her 78-year-old husband. “I wanted to keep him on the road.”

La Hacienda serves as their base, but when there’s gig, “we just secure and go,” she said.

“We love living here,” she added.

If the road ever stops calling, there’s always a cottage that’s just across the park. It’s not going anywhere.

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