Heritage Motor Coach Resort and Marina in Orange Beach, Ala., is reporting continued sales and rental growth despite depressed economic conditions and damage to local beaches from the Gulf oil spill in 2010.
According to a press release, the luxury waterfront Class A motorhome resort features 79 units, each with its own customizable coach house, as well as 42 boat slips. The company said that since opening in 2009, nearly 60% of its available property has sold – 46 units and 24 boat slips have been sold. The average price point per unit is $225,000 with boat slips sold separately.
The resort’s owner and founder, Duke Gibbs, attributes the success to the resort’s unique location and its focus on providing owners and visitors with special events and opportunities.
“Events are the key to success, especially with RVers being such a social crowd,” said Gibbs. “We focus the core of our marketing efforts on providing owners and visitors with complimentary special events from onsite pool parties and BBQs to area attractions including sunset cruises and concerts.”
During the recent Memorial Day holiday, Heritage Motor Coach Resort and Marina planned a special weekend for owners and visitors with complimentary events, including more than 100 people from the resort going to see the ZZ Top/Lynard Skynard concert. Thanks to a partnership with Prevost & Liberty Coach, the resort provided free transportation to and from the concert in a luxury Prevost Motor Coach. This resulted in the resort being 100% booked and selling seven units.
“Orange Beach is a growing beach community with white sand beaches, great restaurants and nightlife, but not over commercialized,” added Gibbs. “Our great location coupled with Southern hospitality helps make the area and our resort a unique experience.”
The resort’s rental program is also enjoying growth. From February to May 2011, rentals grew by 400%. The remainder of summer is booking up fast with Fourth of July weekend almost sold out.
“We have about 10 units left for the Independence Day weekend,” said Gibbs. “Last summer we were dealing with the oil spill, so it is very exciting to know that there is renewed interest in our area. We are looking forward to being full and providing owners and visitors with a memorable summer vacation.”
The resort is planning more events over the next few months. For more information go to www.heritageorangebeach.com
Bella Terra of Gulf Shores in Alabama along with co-host resort Heritage Motor Coach Resort and Marina continue to take the lead in drawing RVers to the Gulf Coast region.
These two Class A resorts along with the support of the Family Motor Coach Association (FMCA) and the Gulf Coast Convention Visitors Bureau are hosting the first “Coast is Clear” Gulf Coast RV Rally the weekend of Oct. 29-30 in Orange Beach, Ala., according to a news release.
Along with resort activities, a cocktail reception and membership and lot rental discounts, a limited number of attendees will receive free tickets to the upcoming, sold-out Alan Jackson concert scheduled for that same weekend.
“Bella Terra of Gulf Shores along with our co-host resort Heritage Motor Coach Resort and Marina are grateful for the continued support of the FMCA along with The Gulf Coast Convention Visitors Bureau,” said Tripp Keeber, COO for Bella Terra Realty Holdings LLC. “This local RV rally and the associated free Alan Jackson concert create the perfect opportunity to show the Gulf Coast region that our country’s RV community is happy to support the region’s tourism and economic needs.”
Steve and Page Jones of Pensacola, Fla., bought a lot for their 40-foot recreational vehicle in Bella Terra of Gulf Shores in Alabama, both as an investment and for a fun place to visit, according to the Press-Register, Mobile, Ala.
“We’re renting it out year-round,” Jones said.
Rick and Lori Cole of La Crosse, Wis., used to drive their 41-foot motorcoach to Naples, Fla., where they rented a space, but the 50-something retirees also bought in Bella Terra, and said they enjoy it so much they’re building a cottage on the lot to accommodate guests.
“We like the people here,” Cole said, and the fact that the RV park is exclusively for Class A motorcoaches.
Luxury motorcoaches have been called upscale condominiums on wheels, and come at similar prices — ranging from $600,000 to $2 million, industry experts said. Increasingly, the resorts and parks that serve them are selling campsites, then renting them out for the site owners, according to the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC).
Land, design and building costs make it tough to develop a new resort park for rentals only, according to park owners.
“Our market is stronger than the condo market,” said Mike Miller, who with his son, Matt, manages Heritage Motor Coach Resort and Marina on Bayou St. John in Orange Beach, Ala., which opened last November.
Almost half of Heritage’s 79 RV lots are sold, he said. Prices range from $169,900 to $419,900.
Most buyers in the local motorcoach resorts hail from the same states that send condo buyers to the Gulf, areas including Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas and Kentucky. Renters include Snow Birds, according to industry experts.
“We’re getting a lot of people who used to go to Tampa and Naples,” Miller said. “It’s a shorter distance, and they like the area.”
Miller said it isn’t unusual for his owners to purchase sites in other cities, then travel from place to place.
Bella Terra, which is on the Foley Beach Express, sold eight RV lots over Mardi Gras weekend, according to Chuck Smith, a partner in the development. The 40-acre park, which opened in late now has owners for 79 of its 87 lots, and is developing another 24. There will be a total of 176 lots when the park is complete.
Prices range from $95,000 to $155,000, depending on whether the lot fronts the 10-acre lake.
“This is not a retirement community, it’s a resort,” Smith said. “A lot of motorcoach owners have kids or are newly retired. They see this as their country club, and we run it as a resort.”
Newer parks typically have amenities similar to those at Bella Terra — a 6,000-square-foot clubhouse with a kitchen, flat-screen TVs, movie theater, gym and sauna. Outdoor perks include an infinity pool, Jacuzzi, putting greens and lush landscaping and gazebos around the lake.
Rentals have been good — 60% during February, with 80% occupancy during the run-up to Mardi Gras, according to Smith. The January rentals were at 55% compared to 17% in January 2009, he said.
The Coles have owned Class A coaches since 1983 and say they enjoy a lifestyle that lets them park, open their house to guests and start socializing.
“It’s a traveling cocktail party,” he said