Camping used to be synonymous with staying in a tent or RV.
But campgrounds, RV parks and resorts across the Lone Star State are finding they can accommodate bigger groups and introduce more people to camping by making park model rental accommodations available to them, said Brian Schaeffer, executive director and CEO of the Texas Association of Campground Owners (TACO), in a news release.
“We’re seeing a dramatic increase in the number of parks that offer rental accommodations,” said Schaeffer, whose organization launched a separate website called www.TexasCabinRentals.net to help people find campgrounds with park model rental accommodations.
Park models are 400-square-foot, factory built units that are built on a chassis, like a trailer, but look like cabins or cottages. They come fully furnished with beds and kitchen appliances. Some even have lofts for the kids.
“We’re adding a dozen of them to our park this year,” said Steve Stafford, manager of the North Texas Jellystone Park Camp-Resort in Burleson, Texas, outside of Dallas.
Hill Country RV Resort & Cabins in New Braunfels is also adding 11 more park models this year, according to Bryan Kastleman, the park’s managing partner.
Meanwhile, La Hacienda RV Resort & Cottages in Austin is adding seven more park model cabins this month, and will likely add more in the future as demand for rental accommodations in RV resorts continues to grow.
“The park model cabin business has truly been a pleasant experience for us,” said park developer Ken Butschek. “I am experiencing about 15% annual growth on RV site rentals, but 30% on my park model rentals. I’m probably going to need 10 more next year.”
The 400-square-foot units, designed and built by Champion/Athens Park Homes, are sought after by families and Winter Texans as well as people on temporary work assignments in the Austin area who don’t want to commit to a six-month lease in an apartment.
“The park models give these people much more flexibility,” Butschek said, adding that Winter Texans who do not have motorhomes or towable RVs also rent them out during the winter season. “This past winter, of my 30 park model cabins, I think I had 15 of them rented out for one to three months by Winter Texans,” he said.
Major campground chains like Jellystone Parks and Kampgrounds of America (KOA) have joined independently owned and operated campgrounds across the country in adding park model RVs as rental accommodations for their guests. Government run campgrounds are also investing in park model RVs, including The Vineyards Campground & Cabins in Grapevine.
The 93-site campground, which also has 13 park model cabins, occupies 52 acres of an 850-acre mostly wooded scenic area encircling Grapevine Lake. But while the park has undergone significant upgrades in recent years, including a $2.25 million expansion that included construction of 23 new campsites and the installation of seven new park model cabins, park General Manager Joe Moore.
Park model suppliers, such as Champion/Athens, have seen their business continue to grow in recent years. “We have sold to 49 different campgrounds and resorts here in Texas,” said Dick Grymonprez, director of national park model sales for Champion/Athens, adding, “We do a lot of business with campground owners and a lot of them continue to buy from us each year.”
It used to be that to go camping you at least needed a tent and a sleeping bag. But in California and across the country, that’s no longer case.
Privately owned and operated campgrounds are increasingly investing in fully furnished park model cabins and cottages, which enable people without camping equipment to enjoy a camping experience, according to a news release.
“California’s campgrounds are located in some of the most scenic locations in the state, so it makes sense to make them accessible to as many people as possible,” said Debbie Sipe, executive director of the California Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds, which hosts Camp-California.com, the travel planning website.
Sipe added that all consumers need to do to find campgrounds with rental accommodations is visit Camp-California.com and search for campgrounds using the “Lifestyle Options” function on the website.
“You can check ‘lodging’ to search for campgrounds that offer rental accommodations,” Sipe said.
While park model cabins and cottages are the rental accommodation of choice for most campgrounds, Sipe said campground operators are finding growing demand for other types of rental accommodations, too, including furnished safari-style tents, yurts, Native American-style tipis and RVs.
The San Diego Metro KOA in Chula Vista just received two more park models this month, which it hopes to have ready in time for Memorial Day weekend.
Meanwhile, Flying Flags RV Resort & Campground in Buellton, near Solvang, has doubled its number of park model cottages this year from six to 12 in an effort to keep up with rising demand. But the resort isn’t stopping there. It’s also installing several vintage Airstream trailers this summer, which will be available for rent.
Other campgrounds, for their part, are offering consumers unique camping rental experiences they’re not likely to forget. Rancho Oso in Santa Barbara, for example, has covered wagons arranged in a circle around a campfire pit. The wagons sleep up to four people and are equipped with four cots and an electrical outlet.
The Ventura Ranch KOA in Santa Paula even has furnished Native American style tipis for rent, and the campground is hoping to eventually offer furnished tree houses for rent.
Even government-run campgrounds are getting into the act.
Mount Lassen National Park now offers park model rental cabins.
And Santee Lakes Recreation Preserve in Santee, near San Diego, has installed floating park model cabins, which are available for rent. Seven of the park’s cabins are right on the water’s edge, while three of its cabins are actually floating on the water. The campground is operated by Padre Dam Municipal Water District.
For other ideas on other exciting camping opportunities across California, please visit www.Camp-California.com.
Pinnacle Park Homes Inc., a park model and camping cabin manufacturer based in Ochlocknee, Ga., is expanding its work force to meet demand as the company marks its 10th year of operation.
“We are one entire quarter ahead in sales compared to last year and that says a lot since sales last year surpassed sales in 2010 and 2011,″ Andy Davis, sales manager, stated in a news release. “While the last three years were very good years for Pinnacle Park Homes, we can see 2013 being even better.”
“Ten years is a milestone,” noted Randy Stewart Jr., production manager and owner. “We are the same company with the same owners that started out 10 years ago. To make it this long we have changed with the needs of our clients. We are continuing to add new floorplans that meet the needs of campground owners.”
Davis added, “With destination camping on the rise, we can only see orders increasing. With a growing backlog we cannot stress enough the importance that campground owners need to plan ahead and place their orders early,” Davis said.
For more information contact Pinnacle Park Homes at (866) 574-5159 or visit www.pinnacleparkhomes.com.
Salem, Ore.-based GreenFLEX, builders of insulated concrete park models, has achieved Certified Green by TRA Certification. According to a press release, GreenFLEX is now labeling its park models with the Certified Green insignia and have reached the silver status.
The company said that GreenFLEX is a patent-pending material invented to create a building system that has advantages over both solid concrete and traditional wood frame construction. Like solid concrete, the product is hammer-tough and extremely durable. At the same time, it weighs little more than wood frame construction while providing superior insulation at a cost that is competitive with traditional construction.
GreenFLEX park models include zonal heating systems, and the interior walls are fully insulated to take advantage of the flexibility. Units also include low VOC insulation and hard flooring while “zero carpeting” is used to reduce the amount of tracked-in contaminants that can become trapped within the fibers. The kitchen and bathroom contain low-flow faucets and the showerhead and toilet are both low-flow.
For more information on GreenFLEX Park Models visit www.gogreenflex.com. For more information on green certification, visit www.certifiedgreenrvs.com or contact Mandy Leazenby at (800) 398-9282.
Shipment reports released by the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) show that after a steady 2012, park model shipments were up sharply to start 2013.
According to a press release, this follows a trend seen across the entire RV industry. RVIA is reporting that 2,770 units were shipped in 2012, a small improvement over the 2,761 units that the Recreational Park Trailer Industry Association (RPTIA) reported were shipped by manufacturers in 2011.
According to RVIA Executive Director of Recreational Park Trailers Matt Wald, “Park trailer shipments began surging in October of 2012 and that has continued into 2013. In fact, shipments in January of 2013 were an incredible 138% higher than shipments reported in January 2012. Through February 2013, park model shipments are about 75% higher compared to the first two months of 2012.”
He added, “The bottom line is that the park model industry has been red hot for the past five months.”
Wald points to a number of factors for the surge in shipments, including growing interest in seasonal camping as Baby Boomers continue to retire in droves as well as a push by many campgrounds to reap the benefits of making deluxe camping accommodation rentals available to their customers.
The owner of Robin Hood Village Resort in Union, Wash., has decided to remove four permanent recreational park trailers, or park models, and resume renting spaces for traditional RVs while his legal appeal moves forward, the Kitsap Sun reported.
Darin Barry is opting to remove the units after the state Shorelines Hearings Board ruled that he must obtain a shorelines permit for the trailers, according to his attorney, Jack Hanemann. The board also upheld a $12,000 fine issued by the Washington Department of Ecology.
Robin Hood Village Resort leased RV spaces near the edge of Hood Canal before the existence of the state’s Shorelines Management Act, so the development was “grandfathered in” and could continue operations. In May 2011, Barry brought in four recreational park trailers, which are structures built on an RV chassis with usable wheels, but they appear more like a small house.
Because the trailers are considered RVs by the Washington Department of Labor and Industries, they should not be considered a change in use or intensity, Barry said. In fact, leaving the trailers in place all the time would have less impact on the environment than the comings and goings of RVs, he argued.
But the shorelines board did not agree. The permanent placement of the units constituted a more intensive use, the board ruled, and the addition of landscaping, skirting and permanent stairs constituted an expansion of the development. Those changes triggered the need for a permit, the board said.
Hanemann said Barry discontinued use of the trailers while the matter was pending before the shorelines board, and now he will remove the units. But he still believes the trailers should be allowed on the site without a permit, his attorney added, and Barry will appeal the case to Mason County Superior Court.
The Recreation Vehicle Industry Association’s (RVIA) newly formed Recreation Park Trailer (RPT) Technical Subcommittee will hold its inaugural meeting on April 16 in South Bend, Ind.
The new group has the responsibility of monitoring and updating all chapters within the ANSI A119.5 and NEC Article 552 standards for recreation park trailers, also known as park models. It will also review and approve necessary RPT Handbook Updates that will be forwarded to RVIA’s Standards Steering Committee and the RPT Committee for final review and approval, according to a news release.
The RPT Technical Subcommittee is chaired by Jon Walters of Cavco Industries Inc. Committee members include Gary Duncan, Forest River Inc., Park Model Division; Jerry Glenn, Kropf Manufacturing Co.; Jerry Miller, Woodland Park Inc.; Bob Phillips, Dutchmen Manufacturing Inc.; Jimmy Sellers, Chariot Eagle Inc.; and John Soard, Fairmont Homes Inc.
At their first meeting, the subcommittee will discuss the scope of the group, review the status of code cycles for the ANSI A119.5 and NEC 552 standards and review various code change proposals and technical updates.
Editor’s Note: The following story is excerpted from the February issue of Woodall’s Campground Management examining park models, cabins and yurts.
A survey the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) commissioned last summer through Precision Research, an Arizona-based firm that has done previous work for RVIA, revealed some broad misunderstandings or confusion about some aspects of the park trailer industry.
The firm surveyed 400 RVers and 400 non-RVers. Results showed consumers in general don’t recognize the phrases “recreational park trailer” or “destination camping” but have a far better understanding of phrases such as “park models” and “seasonal camping,” Matt Wald, the RVIA’s recreational park trailer executive director, told WCM.
To help clear up the confusion, the RVIA’s ad hoc Destination Camping Committee that commissioned the study has recommended to the RVIA board that it adopt the phrases park model and seasonal camping and drop the other terms. The board will take up the recommendations at its March meeting, Wald said.
In the meantime, the Destination Camping Committee and the Recreational Park Trailer committees, whose names may be changed pending the RVIA board action, won’t be meeting again until Committee Week in June, Wald said.
Trough Not As Deep As Commonly Thought
The decline that the park model industry has sustained since reaching an all-time high of 10,143 wholesale shipments in 2006 is not as deep as it is often portrayed, Wald pointed out to WCM. Shipments have tailed off each year since then and have not topped 4,000 in either of the last two years.
However, what was counted as a park model in previous years creates a proverbial “apples and oranges” dilemma.
Up until 2007, not only was the economy stronger than it is today, but also until then all trailer-type units that measured between 320 and 400 square feet were counted as a park model. Starting in 2008, RVIA allowed travel trailers to be built up to 400 square feet rather than limiting them to 320 square feet. Since then, many units that would have been counted as 8 ½-foot-wide park models are now rightfully counted as travel trailers.
“Overall, it looks like a desperate fall,” Wald said. “But if you look just at the over-8½-foot-wide-park models, it still is down but not nearly as much as the overall number would seem to indicate. In fact, it is right in line with other RV types.”
And Wald and the RVIA report some success in tackling the task of accurate record keeping to track wholesale shipments of park models. Until July 2012, shipments were tracked by the RPTIA. Figures for the first half of 2012 were spotty and incomplete and, according to Wald, understate actual production figures. For that reason, monthly RVIA wholesale shipment reports do not provide a year-over-year tabulation for park models for the entire year.
But Wald has coaxed park model manufacturers to go back in their 2012 records to try to recreate a better accounting of their production for the first half of the year. Once better accounting is complete, Wald hopes RVIA will be able soon to report a more complete picture for comparison purposes.
Editor’s Note: The following story is excerpted from the February issue of Woodall’s Campground Management reporting on trends in the park model, cabin and yurt industry.
This year might be the year that the recreational park trailer industry snaps out of its multi-year slump.
At least that’s what the major manufacturers are hoping for and telling Woodall’s Campground Management (WCM) for its annual park model, cabins and yurts issue. And to what extent the nation’s campgrounds bolster their covered shelter inventory will go far in determining the success these OEMs experience in 2013.
The major campground chains, Kampgrounds of America Inc. (KOA) and Leisure Systems Inc. (LSI), each reported a hearty demand for covered shelter in their parks in 2012, which encouraged the park model OEMs as they begin to fill the pipeline for 2013. KOA said deluxe cabin rentals, a key point of emphasis right now, was up more than 20% in 2012 with registration revenues growing 19.5% higher than in 2011.
LSI reported that rental unit revenue rose 17% in 2012 from 2011. Double-digit growth has been recorded the past three years.
“Some people (parks) are not really taking advantage of this,” LSI President Robert Schutter said late in the year. “This is an area that we can exploit for many years. We have not maxed out.”
Builders are taking a variety of steps to grow their market share in both the campground and retail marketplace.
Industry leader Breckenridge, a division of Thor Industries Inc., the RV industry’s No. 1 manufacturer, is stepping up its production of rental units for the campground industry.
The company, which captured more than 25% of the retail park model market in 2012, has taken many steps to broaden the appeal of its 12-wide Extendable and Perfect Cottage series, explained Bob Phillips, general manager of Nappanee, Ind.-based manufacturer, which is a preferred provider for KOA and LSI, two of its two largest customers.
“What we’re trying to do is anchor the market we’re in,” said Phillips. “Breckenridge has always been a leader in the 12-wide market. I don’t think we’re going to venture much outside that.”
Forest River Inc., a Berkshire Hathaway company, the nation’s No. 2 RV builder and among the five largest park model makers, has done a total overhaul of its park model offerings for 2013 in its high line Quail Ridge and entry-level Summit product line.
The company has introduced four new floorplans so far and revamped its interior decors for these 12-wide models. Many formerly optional features are now standard on the Quail Ridge line and may be available on Summit products.
Interior doors are now stained to match the cabinets. New cabinet designs and styles, new kitchen backsplashes and hidden hinges for cabinets were introduced. Cabinets now have pulls instead of handles and ball-bearing glides. Kitchen cabinet and pantry shelves are now adjustable. Countertop choices were expanded. Pullout trash cans are now inside the pantries.
New window treatments feature hard valances and give a more upscale look. Accent furniture was updated.
On the outside, new vinyl siding colors were added. Shutters have been added to entry doors and loft windows.
Click here to read the entire article, offering profiles on other OEMs along with the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association’s (RVIA) inclusion of park models.
Forest River Inc. announced the appointment of Gary Duncan as general manager of the company’s park model division, effective Feb. 1.
According to a press release, former General Manager Jim Foltz will continue with the division, assuming other responsibilities.
Duncan joined Forest River’s park model sales team in November of 2011 and has been instrumental in the redesign of the entire product line, as well as executing new initiatives for product enhancements and the marketing of park models.
Duncan has a bachelor’s in engineering from the University of Michigan, with 15 years of varied experiences in the RV industry. Prior to the RV Industry, he served in a variety of sales and engineering capacities with Tier 1 automotive suppliers.
Duncan can be reached at (574) 264-2513 (office), or via e-mail at email@example.com .