Best Parks in America (BPA) has announced the introduction of a new rating system that will be used to evaluate RV parks and campgrounds that wish to join the national Best Parks network of highly-rated, premium RV parks and campgrounds. According to a press release, the Best Parks board endorsed the new system at a meeting on June 6 and agreed to implement the measuring system immediately.
“As Best Parks continues to build a new market segment and create a niche audience that seeks higher end, premium parks to enjoy, every effort must be made to assure consumers that parks affiliated with BPA stand out and truly are the best. Continued reliance on the Trailer Life and now Good Sam ratings is no longer appropriate and doesn’t provide a valid measuring tool on which to judge parks for inclusion in Best Parks,” said BPA board member Mike Gurevich, owner of Cherry Hill Park, College Park, Md.
“It’s imperative that Best Parks continue to raise the bar as it creates a new industry segment. Every park in the network reflects on every other park and the goal is to come as close as possible to universal agreement among consumers that each park in the network has earned and deserves the recognition and brand as one of the Best Parks in America. This new rating system is an important development in this direction,” said board member Randy Packard, owner of Pine Acres Family Camping Resort in Oakham, Mass.
The new system scores 110 elements on a scale of 1 to 4. Initially, parks that attain a score of 225 or higher can be considered for Best Parks affiliation. The system takes into account the diversity that exists among parks in different geographic areas, among those serving various demographic groups, and the value of the overall consumer experience at the park.
“Just as KOA, Leisure Systems and other companies have their way of evaluating the properties in their group, Best Parks will now have in place a way to assure that each park in the system will meet the high standards expected by its target consumers and is of the highest quality in terms of guest experience, facilities, amenities, hospitality and service,” said BPA President David Gorin.
Established in 2003, Best Parks in America currently consists of 66 affiliated facilities nationwide.
The National Issues Conference sponsored by the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC) got under way today (May 8) in Washington, D.C.
ARVC retained McDermott, Will & Emery, a leading Washington, D.C., law firm, registered lobbyist and powerful partner on Capitol Hill, to assist in the event. Some of the issues that will be focused on include:
• Ensuring that members of Congress appreciate the importance of tourism and travel to the overall health of the American economy, and that travel and tourism accounted for 7.5 million jobs in 2010.
• Fighting for a transportation infrastructure bill, which is vital to connecting tourists and travelers to their destinations; and
• Seeking clearer guidance from the U.S. Department of Justice regarding the Americans with Disabilities Act regulations covering swimming pools and spas.
Those of you who wiggle out of family camping trips by claiming you’re just not into roughing it will have to find another excuse.
A range of camping options and innovations have made it far more comfortable to eat, sleep and otherwise spend time in the Great Outdoors.
“’Soft rugged’ is what so many Americans are seeking in their outdoor experience today,” says Jim Rogers, chairman and CEO of Kampgrounds of America, or KOA, which runs about 500 campgrounds around the country. So much so that he now refers to the camping industry as “outdoor hospitality.”
KOA has beefed up some of its campgrounds to include both basic and luxury cabins – the latter being the kind more often equated with family resorts than places to pitch tents. Rental costs $100 to $150 per night. Some sites offer coffee carts, pancake breakfasts, kids’ activities and entertainment.
Campers who want things a bit more – but not much more – rustic can browse the equipment lining the shelves at well-stocked outdoors stores (although some of the fancy new goodies may hike the price of that simple camping trip).
Take, for instance, REI’s Kingdom 8 tent, which is big enough to sleep eight. For $529, the tent is not just waterproof and bug-proof but also has moveable room dividers to create separate spaces with private entrances. Fill it with cots, airbeds and perhaps a ceiling fan created for tents, and you’re bound to get in a good night’s sleep. Toss in another $100, and you can add to it a “garage” to store food or gear — or use it as a place for the family dog to sleep.
Nifty outdoor stoves and cooking gear have made campfire-cooked canned beans and hot dogs moot, unless you really like them.
REI’s camp kitchen, for example, is a folding trove of food-prep workspace and storage – all of which can be carried around in a zipper bag. It even includes hooks for hanging up spatulas, and windproof screens so the elements don’t mess with your cooking.
Coleman, one of the biggest manufactures of camping gear, sells a camping oven that fits handily onto one of the company’s two- or three-burner grills.
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RVC Outdoor Destinations announced today (May 1) its expansion west with the acquisition of the Garden of the Gods Campground in Colorado Springs, Colo.
According to a news release, the roughly 200-site property is located near the entrance of the Garden of the Gods Visitor Center, with views of Pikes Peak, the most visited mountain in North America. The property has been the top RV and outdoor lodging destination in the region but has been under bank ownership since 2010.
RVC has begun stabilizing operations and will start renovating the property immediately. Renovations will include an overall upgrade of the property and its amenities, including enhancing tent sites and incorporating them into current on-property cabins for a unique camping experience, resurfacing pools, improving existing RV sites and adding eight new concrete RV sites.
In the coming weeks, RVC will rebrand the property from Garden of the Gods Campground to Garden of the Gods RV Resort, and will reflag it as an RVC Outdoor Destination by the start of 2013.
“The Garden of the Gods acquisition is a terrific addition to our portfolio of upscale outdoor vacation properties,” said Andy Cates, president of RVC Outdoor Destinations. “The upgraded camping experience we offer is resonating with guests. It fits with what a lot of people are looking for in a vacation these days because it is unique, affordable and allows guests to enjoy some of America’s most beautiful natural landscapes with amenities that truly make it a destination experience.”
In addition to its newly acquired Colorado property, RVC currently operates Outdoor Destinations and RV resorts in Arkansas, Georgia, Florida and North Carolina.
Best Parks in America has launched ‘The Best of Summer” contest encouraging RVers and campers to vote for their favorite campground and RV resort.
According to a press release, RVers and campers who vote for their favorite are entered into a drawing to win a free week of camping at their favorite Best Park in America.
“This seemed a great way to kick off the summer season, introduce the RVer and consumer to our affiliate parks, and have some fun at the same time,” said Deb Kohls, Best Parks’ vice president for guest experiences.
All RV parks and campgrounds in the Best Parks in America national network offer highly rated, modern unique amenities from water slides for kids to dinners and dances for adults. Most parks also offer cabins and cottages so that everyone can enjoy a great outdoor experience at every Best Park. Each park is committed to providing the highest quality experiences such as activities for children and adults, kayaking, fishing, swimming, canoeing, social events, shuttle services and more.
For more information, visit http://www.bestparks.com or call (714) 698-9509.
City plans for a campground in picturesque Bradley Park in Tomahawk, Wis., have some residents in uproar, and some on the defensive.
Talk of a campground in part of Bradley Park began in the last few years. Today, it has some residents of Tomahawk divided, WJFW-TV, Rhinelander, reported.
“It’s come to our attention that this parks committee is proposing a seven-acre, KOA-style campground,” says Bill Paulson, from Tomahawk.
“None of that’s been passed, approved. It’s just an idea,” says Don Nelson, chairman of the Tomahawk Parks and Recreation Department.
The idea upsets those who think the park’s majestic white and red pine trees are too valuable to the park to part with.
“When you start destroying part of the park, these campers are going to start scavenging firewood, cutting trees down; there’s going to be garbage,” says Paulson.
Nelson says they don’t intend to make it a clear cut campground and would minimize tree removal. He also says they won’t force the idea on the city.
“We’re not going to move ahead on something the majority of the townspeople don’t want,” says Nelson.
There’s also differing opinion, as to what exactly the city wants.
“The people of this city tell me one thing, and only one thing: leave this park alone,” says Ray Zindrick, from Tomahawk.
“We had lots of interest in creating a campground in Bradley Park,” says Nelson.
But there is one thing they agree on.
“It’s a cathedral, it’s a chapel, it’s an experience that’s humbling because you know you’re walking through something…. this is what Tomahawk used to be like,” says Zindrick.
“Yeah, this is a crown jewel for Tomahawk. How many communities would die to have a park like this?” sasy Nelson.
It’s clear everyone involved, regardless of how they feel about a campground, is passionate about the park. They just have different aspects of it they’re committed to.
The owner and operator of the Boardwalk Beach Resort in Panama City, Fla., is considering a luxury RV park for the area, but some neighbors aren’t happy with the plans.
WJHG TV reported that some of the condo owners at the Boardwalk Beach Resort are opposing Royal American’s request for some zoning changes to build the RV park. They say it could have a negative impact on their condo values.
When Boardwalk Beach Resort owners bought their condos years ago, they were expecting to be part of a huge beach front resort.
“We were told there would be four buildings,” condo owner John Bienkowski said. “Three additional ones besides the one we’re standing in front of today. Plus a number of amenities to make it like a park atmosphere, but with four buildings.”
Those plans were shelved when the real estate bubble burst several years ago. Instead, Royal American now wants to use some of its land to build an upscale RV park. Company officials say they want to attract tourists with luxury RVs to generate some revenue until it makes sense to build permanent structures on the land.
Royal American Marketing Director Amy Harris released a statement saying that their research shows that luxury RV owners is the demographic they want to attract to Panama City Beach. She also points out Okaloosa County recently approved a similar RV park for Okaloosa Island.
The company has requested a zoning change from Panama City Beach.
“It seems like we’ve been getting more, as this request is, is going from a district that allows some commercial use to an RV park. And it seems like RV parks are the land use of the day lately,” Panama City Beach Director of Planning and Building Mel Leonard said.
But some Boardwalk residents and their neighbors aren’t thrilled with the new trend.
“We just didn’t see the new plans being anything that would enhance the area. We thought that we would take a greater hit than a lot of people have already economically, because we don’t see it doing anything to enhance the value of our individual units or the property,” Bienkowski added.
The zoning change request was scheduled to go before the Panama City Beach planning board February 13th. But late Wednesday afternoon Royal American officials pulled it from the agenda to give more time to explain their plans to the owners.
Woodall’s Publications has released its 2012 Woodall’s North American Campground Directory. According to a press release, the 2012 directory contains information for more than 8,000 privately owned and 6,000 public parks across North America.
The directory features 310,003 changes and updates from the 2011 edition, including over 14,000 detailed listings of campgrounds, RV dealers and service centers and attractions, GPS coordinates, physical addresses and detailed campground information. It also features full-color state and provincial maps, at-a-glance charts showing parks that welcome big rigs, have internet access (including Wi-Fi), welcome pets, and parks and campgrounds that are considered “green-friendly,” based upon the criteria of the National Association of Campgrounds and RV Parks (ARVC) in conjunction with “Leave No Trace.”
Included in the 2012 edition is exclusive new editorial on “One Tank Trips,” which guides readers to amazing trips using only a tank of gas. Also new is the use of QR codes allowing RVers and campers to connect with the campgrounds, RV parks and resorts found in the directory. Located throughout the directory, these QR codes can be scanned by smart phones and will connect users to exclusive content.
Woodall’s also redesigned its Travel Section for 2012, and filled it with tons of tips and recommendations about each local cities and attractions within each specific state. Another added benefit to the directory are Camping World coupons, placed within its pages, which are good at any Camping World SuperCenter nationwide, providing savings to Woodall’s readers.
In conjunction with the release of the new 2012 directory, Woodall’s Publications is also releasing its list of top-rated privately owned RV parks and campgrounds in North America through its 5W/5W rating system. Of the 8,000 privately-owned parks listed in its 2012 North American Campground Directory, 363 parks earned the highest and most coveted designation in the Woodall’s rating system.
“Privately owned campgrounds and RV parks covet the 5W Woodall’s rating, valuing it as the industry’s long running standard and most respected rating system,” said Ann Emerson, vice president and publisher. “We are very proud of the 363 campgrounds that have achieved a 5W rating for 2012.”
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Sun Communities Inc. announced Tuesday (Jan. 10) that it has priced an underwritten registered public offering of 4 million shares of its common stock at $35.50 per share. The sale will yield $142 million at the stated price.
As part of the offering, the company granted the underwriters a 30-day option to purchase up to an additional 600,000 shares of its common stock. The offering is expected to close on Jan. 17, subject to customary closing conditions, Thomson Reuters reported.
The company intends to use the net proceeds of the offering to fund a portion of the purchase price of three recreational vehicle communities located in Florida that it agreed to acquire, as previously disclosed, and to repay outstanding debt. The company expects to use any remaining net proceeds of the offering to fund possible future acquisitions of properties and for working capital and general corporate purposes.
Sun Communities Inc. is a real estate investment trust based in Southfield, Mich., that owns and operates RV parks and mobile home communities.
In his younger years, Bruce Sugarek was a welder in the oil fields in South Texas. At 82, he is now retired – well sort of, the Bee County Bee-Picayune reported.
“I am more tired than retired,” he said chuckling.
He is among the numerous other residents now providing housing for the workers of the Eagle Ford Shale industry. Throughout this area, small RV parks have popped up in once vacant lots.
In Saturday’s Bee-Picayune, five companies listed RV parks with open spots in the area. County Judge David Silva said he has seen these parks sprouting up throughout the county.
“You can’t drive between Beeville and anywhere that you won’t see RV parks and signs,” Silva said. “Some people have them next to their houses and some of them don’t. Everybody seems to be getting in on the action.”
Ron Fritz, with the county’s community affairs department, said that since January, 14 new RV parks have been built. This is up from, well, zero during the past few years.
“This is something new to Bee County,” Fritz said. “These things are popping up like mushrooms because of the people working in the Eagle Ford Shale kingdom.”
The county first began seeing the influx of people at the first of the year when the Eagle Ford drilling kicked into gear.
“The whole problem was the lack of housing in our area,” Fritz said. “Guys were staying all over and driving over here to work in the field.”
For some, the opportunity to cash in on the need for housing was too tempting to pass up. Bruce Munoz opened his RV park off U.S. Highway 59 only a few months ago and it’s already full.
“I have people still calling me,” he said. “I don’t have any more spaces open.”
That could change though.
“That is why I am thinking about in the future making it bigger,” he said. “But that is in the future.”
All of his residents are oil field workers but he hopes that when the boom subsides, he will be able to continue operating the park — just with a different clientele.