RVC Outdoor Destinations, a leading provider of U.S. outdoor resort properties, announced today (April 17) that it has completed the renovation of Garden of the Gods Campground in Colorado Springs.
Now operating as Garden of the Gods RV Resort, the facility offers 173 RV sites, including six new executive pull-through sites, and 29 upgraded lodging units. In addition to renovating all of the buildings, various improvements and amenity additions include a new lobby, the Midland Trail gateway, a bark park and a fully remodeled Garden Studios & Suites. Other upgrades are a new pool deck, new fencing, road and landscape upgrades, upgraded Wi-Fi, a new business center and new picnic tables. Also, a new base camp area has been created that includes upgraded bunkhouses and family suites that surround a community campfire and grill.
After purchasing the property in 2012 and investing over $800,000 in improvements over the last year, Garden of the Gods RV Resort is one of the “most attractive outdoor hospitality properties in the region,” said RVC. The property’s logo, website, social media presence and signage have also been updated to better reflect the improvements.
“There is a lot of excitement about this renovation and I’m looking forward to all of the smiles the improvements will bring to our guests,” said Ian Horgan, General Manager of Garden of the Gods. RVC President Andy Cates added that “Garden of the Gods RV Resort is one of the strongest properties in the western United States. RVC is upgrading it from an already attractive and well located campground to an RV Resort by adding the right amenities and improvements.”
In addition to Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs, RVC currently operates outdoor destinations and RV resorts in Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and Tennessee.
Thousand Trails is giving outdoor enthusiasts a chance to get out and camp with the “Gear Up and Camp” sweepstakes. According to a press release, one camper will win a free week of camping and a camping gear package, with a combined value of $1,100. Sweepstakes entrants will also be entered for a chance to win one of four second place prize packages, and one of 30 third place prize packages daily.
The sweepstakes grand prize includes a week-long camping trip for the winner at any participating Thousand Trails or Encore RV resort campground. In addition, the winner will receive a package of camping gear, including the following: Rand McNally’s RV-specific GPS device – the RVND 7720 LM; $100 gas card; Strongback Chair; Coghlan’s Camper’s S’mores Grill and Corn Popper; Coleman Lantern; $50 MyRVMarket.com gift certificate; Thousand Trails sweatshirt, umbrella, window cling, backpack, blanket and travel mug; and a Duck Harbor Cool Weather Sleeping bag.
Four additional winners will be selected each week of the promotion to receive a second prize package that includes a week-long camping trip at any participating Thousand Trails or Encore RV resort campground and a package including a Thousand Trails backpack, blanket, travel mug, and window cling.
Thirty winners will be selected at the end of each day of the promotion to receive a Thousand Trails camping pack, which includes a backpack, blanket, travel mug and window cling. All in all, 35 prizes will be awarded throughout the course of the Thousand Trails Gear Up and Camp sweepstakes.
To enter, visit the Thousand Trails Facebook page at www.facebook.com/
Equity LifeStyle Properties Inc. (ELS), the nation’s largest operator of RV parks and manufactured housing communities, is seeking to expand its RV footprint this year.
During a conference call to investors on Tuesday (Jan. 29), ELS President Marguerite Nader said the company’s RV footprint “appeals to both the Baby Boomers who are just considering retirement and those who are well under way into retirement.”
She said ELS, which serves RVers through its Encore and Thousand Trails resorts, has “an extremely loyal and vibrant customer base ranging from members who had been with us for more than 20 years to annual customers who have spent a decade with us to the RV customer who is just starting out exploring the RV lifestyle. We can meet the demand of the RVers for a quality, affordable vacation experience.”
Nevertheless, the data show these sites are underutilized, she implied.
Its right-to-use membership continued a four-year decline in 2012 and totaled 96,687 at year-end, down from 105,850 in 2009. Company guidance projects the number to decline to 95,000 this year. Members enter into right-to-use contracts with the company, which entitle them to use certain properties on a continuous basis for up to 21 days.
Paul Seavy, CFO, noted that membership dues revenue in 2012 was 4.4% less than 2011 and approximately $500,000 below company guidance. “We continue to see net attrition in the member base,” he said.
Right-to-use annual payments dropped to $47,662,000 in 2012, down about $3 million from 2009.
“Increasing utilization can be achieved by increasing our annual customers, increasing our member count and promoting additional transient business,” Nader said. “I believe in order to realize this increased utilization, it is necessary to expand our customer base through deeper relationships with distribution channels, to increase marketing campaigns for our properties and to focus on the younger customer demographic.”
This effort will encompass determining the best ways to communicate with customers from social media to grass root efforts and understanding the amenities that drive their decisions to stay at a particular property, she added.
At the same time, ELS sold approximately 10,200 Zone Park passes during the year, including approximately 1,200 membership activated as a result of the RV dealer program, which was launched in 2012.
The Zone Park Pass program, which allows access to up to four zones of the United States and requires annual payments, started in 2010 with 4,487 members. The program grew to 10,198 members in 2012 and is expected to reach 12,000 this year.
At the end of December, ELS acquired two RV resorts in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas for $25 million, or approximately $14,000 per site.
Also, ELS sold the former Cascade property in Washington State, which yielded a sale price of $49,000 per RV site. The high return prompted one investment caller to ask Nader whether the high return made the company management think its RV resorts might be more valuable than first thought. Nader implied “no,” because the sale “was a unique situation.”
Nader said there are no other RV park sales currently in the pipeline “but we certainly look at offers as they come in.”
Earlier, ELS reported favorable results for the fourth quarter and year-end 2012. Fourth-quarter funds from operations or FFO were $50.3 million, or $1.11 per share, up from $44.8 million, or $0.99 per share in the year ago quarter.
Net income available to common stockholders totaled $24.3 million or $0.58 per share, compared to a net loss of $200,000 for the same period in 2011.
Total revenue for the fourth quarter increased to $171.93 million from $162.32 million in the year ago quarter. Property operating revenues, excluding deferrals, were $167.9 million, compared to $161.1 million in the same period of 2011.
Best Parks in America affiliates are ready for the camping and RVing season reporting overall enthusiasm for getting outdoors is improving over 2011.
According to a press release, the Memorial Day holiday beginning May 25 kicks off the summer season with campers and outdoor recreation enthusiasts booking reservations at Best Parks in America RV parks and campgrounds. Many of the 66 Best Parks in America affiliates report that bookings for RV sites and cabin rentals are ahead of 2011. And with Memorial Day weekend indicators of high occupancy at many parks, it looks like consumers are anxious to get outdoors.
Anaheim Resort RV Park near Disneyland in California still has a few sites left for the long weekend and Pine Acres Resort in Oakham, MA reports the Memorial Day weekend is nearly at capacity and that bookings for the summer season ahead of last year. Gas prices haven’t dampened enthusiasm for camping with Holiday Trav-L Park in Virginia Beach, Va., and Keen Lake Camping and Cottage Resort in Waymart, Pa. Both resorts are reporting campers are coming from closer locations and staying longer.
“Trends at Best Parks affiliates clearly indicate that the consumers are anxious to get outdoors and spend quality time with family and friends, enjoy the natural environment found at RV parks and campgrounds, and enjoy leisure time closer to home . . . and we encourage leisure travelers to contact Best Parks when planning their vacation”, says David Gorin, president of Best Parks in America.
Best Parks in America is a national network of 65 outdoor hospitality properties. For more information, visit http://www.bestparks.com or call 714-698-9509.
Don’t call it a trailer park. What developers want to build in northern Cape Coral, Fla., is being pitched as an upscale RV resort appealing to owners of high-end motor coaches.
The Fort Myers New-Press reported that the multi-million dollar project, which would be the first of its kind in the city, is in its infancy. The public feasted their eyes on some maps and designs for the first time Friday (May 18) during Cape Coral City Councilman Kevin McGrail’s town hall meeting at the Northwest Regional Library.
“Anyone who’s seen it pretty much knows the area,” McGrail said. “They’ve already handled a lot of the brush in the area. Right now, it’s basically a cleared field with barbed wire and a lake.”
Now it’s time to get feedback from residents, he said. Their aim is to create a self-contained area for motor coaches, cottages and villas, not a campground. Those living there would get use of all the facilities, including a clubhouse, tennis courts, pool and possibly paddle boats.
The property’s zoning, now agricultural, will need to be changed after approval by the City Council.
“Unless this is handled correctly anyone with a flat piece of land can open a trailer park,” McGrail said. “The job of staff is to craft land-use and zoning terminology to move this forward without opening up a can of worms.”
But he said the timing is right, coinciding with plans for a Burnt Store Road expansion in 2014-15. He sees the resort as a positive driving force for a commercial corridor in that part of the city.
Those who’ve been prepping the property are calling the development The Resort at Burnt Store Lake. They want the atmosphere to maintain a relaxed environment for families.
Stella Peters, president of the Northwest Cape Coral Neighborhood Association, said it was premature to speculate but looks forward to finding out more about the resort at this morning’s meeting.
“We’re anxious to hear what they have to say,” Peters said.
The resort is expected to connect to Charlotte County utilities until the city of Cape Coral is ready to service it.
For almost a year, those involved have been assembling properties that equal an estimated 200 acres, said Henry Albrecht, broker and owner of Cape Coral’s Gulf Gateway Realty, which has been working with the developer.
“That lake up there was a quarry but also the largest (lake) in the entire city of Cape Coral,” Albrecht said. “It’s a great location given Burnt Store is going to be widened … we’re really trying to be specific with the language to make this a high class place that draws people from all over the country.”
Their hope is for the resort to contain 350 to 400 units.
Long before Andy Cates established RVC Outdoor Destinations in 2007, he solidified his commercial real estate background at Trammel Crow Co.
The experience has helped Cates grow his Memphis-based operation of upscale, resort-like campgrounds for the last five years. For Cates, outdoor hospitality and commercial real estate have plenty of business parallels, The Daily News, Memphis, reported.
“Ultimately, the land valuations, land development and property management absolutely directly carries over,” he said. “That commercial real estate skill set is clearly helpful and required in this.”
RVC claims to have created the “outdoor destination” hospitality model – providing a variety of lodging options such as RV sites, cottages and yurts, all set within unique natural environments.
“We really weren’t and haven’t been banging the drums on telling our story until really the last year,” Cates said. “We’ve spent that timeframe building our culture and our operating platform, and obviously developing properties. Now, we are aggressively spreading the word about what we’re doing and seeking to expand as we redefine an industry that really hasn’t changed significantly in decades.”
For example, RVC recently announced its acquisition of the Garden of the Gods Campground in Colorado Springs, Colo., marking the company’s seventh location. The 200-site property has been the top RV and outdoor lodging destination in the region – with views of Pikes Peak, the most visited mountain in North America – but has been under bank ownership since 2010.
RVC paid all cash, closed quickly and is investing a significant amount of money into the property – an initial $200,000, as well as that much more and then some during the “reflagging process.”
“It was as much of a renovation analysis as understanding what that property already does in the market,” Cates said. “The fact that it had a large database and a strong, very loyal customer base, was both attractive and also a challenge in that we need to communicate quickly with that group of customers that the property is being revitalized.”
That process also entails bringing Garden of the Gods up to RVC standards. RVC currently operates six properties in Arkansas, Georgia, Florida and North Carolina. Amenities offered in those communities include concierge service, a “bark park” off-leash area for dogs, modern swimming pools, boating and fishing rentals, coffee, beer and wine bars, free Wi-Fi and cable, and a gift shop.
In many ways, Cates said, RVC is attempting to create another product class within commercial real estate. His goal is similar to what was done with self-storage some 20 years ago, when the concept itself grew dramatically and scaled, or when Kemmons Wilson launched Holiday Inn in Memphis in the early 1950s.
“It effectively created full-service hotels as a specific segment of the commercial real estate world,” Cates said. “You had the Holiday Inns and the Hiltons and the Marriotts and those brands take what had been a mom-and-pop lodging business and create consistency and high standards and strong marketing to drive traffic. And that’s not happened in outdoor hospitality.”
Cates said RVC would like to eventually have an outdoor destination property in Memphis, but as with commercial real estate, the economics and the timing have to make sense.
“I think that it’s our backyard and our home and I think there’s a high likelihood that we’ll have a presence here, but it’s got to be the right fit for everybody,” Cates said. “We’re hopeful we’ll have something to talk about here in the next year or so.”
Because with fluctuating fuel prices, RVC doesn’t see as much reduction in travel or planned vacations as it does with the scope of vacations and the distance to that location.
“A lot folks are focused on what’s within three to four hours of the specific vacation market,” Cates said. “And there’s absolutely a more demanding value proposition by the consumer – everybody in the United States is demanding more for their dollar than they ever have. We welcome that because we feel passionately that we can provide a phenomenally good experience for a very reasonable amount of money.”
The Elks Club was packed with citizens for the Greater Pine Island Civic Association (GPICA) meeting last week. The majority were there to hear from Robert “Smokey” Smeja about his plans to develop 57 acres on Pine Island in South Florida into a Class A motorcoach resort, Windjammer RV Resort, the Pine Island Eagle, Bokeelia, reported.
“We’re here tonight to hear his presentation,” said Phil Buchanan, legal consultant for GPICA. “There is currently an approved plan to build 300 condos on the property, which predates the Pine Island plan. Smokey is seeking to change that to 200 high-end RV lots and include amenities such as a clubhouse and lake. That’s still a lot of density for this property. I’m sure the audience will have lots of questions.”
Smeja began his presentation noting he was a long-time resident of the island who had purchased the land along with approved plans for 300 condominiums including duplexes and seven three-story buildings.
“It has occurred to me,” he told the crowd, “that a better use would be for a destination RV resort using the same road layout and proposed lake. The RV lots would be sold individually. Development of the condominiums would take a long time whereas this project could be completed in 1 to 3 years.”
Smeja went on to explain his concept and showed a 12,000-square-foot clubhouse, walking paths, conservation lands and buffer zones on a concept plan.
“I’m even going to put a couple beaches on the lake, which are not shown on this plan. If you offer the amenities, these people will come.” he said.
“I’m here to find out if you, as an island, want to be involved in a 305-condo project or an RV resort project,” he continued. “I have so much invested, I have to build something and I think the resort is a much better fit for Pine Island.”
The ensuing comments and questions covered concerns ranging from skepticism about Smeja’s claim that affluent RVers would buy the lots and come for just winter months, to questions about septic and water use, traffic issues, having the proposed RV resort degenerate into “a Pink Citrus” and potential impact on property values in adjacent communities such as Pine Island Cove and Pine Island Village.
GPICA President Roger Wood had his gavel in hand and used it on numerous occasions when comments became heated.
Throughout the discussion period, Smeja reiterated that he had to build “something” by August of 2013 and thought the RV resort was a better use of the acreage.
Debbie Iannucci, president of the Pine Island Village Homeowners Association, noted that her members had voted not to support the building of Windjammer RV Resort, primarily because they did not believe it was compatible with nearby residential uses and because of the impact on the community from traffic.
After some 45 minutes of questions, comments and discussion, a motion was made from the floor that the Greater Pine Island Civic Association not approve the re-zoning request at this time. The motion passed with 45 supporting and 1 against.
After the meeting adjourned, Smeja indicated he would be proceeding with the project, noting, “I had hoped to convey to my neighbors that I had a far better plan than the one I purchased. I need to follow up with the adjacent communities to see what they want. So far, it’s just been a concept.”
GPICA member Buchanan pointed out, “It’s a long way from over. We need to look at more plans and have future meetings, but convincing the neighbors it’s a good idea doesn’t look too likely to me. But despite the neighbors’ objections, I do suspect something will be built there sooner or later. That’s just the way things work.”
Best Parks in America, a national network of 65 of the highest rated RV parks and campgrounds in America, announced the availability of its newest affiliate directory, RVing & Camping at the Best Parks in America. The directory is available free at all participating parks and can be ordered from the website, according to a news release.
The easy-to-read directory format and size makes for easy traveling with the directory. In addition to the park listings, the directory features a selection of camping recipes courtesy of http://www.campingcafe.com. From s’mores to grilled salmon, there’s a recipe for every taste and place.
“We are pleased to provide a convenient way for avid outdoor enthusiasts to plan their leisure vacation trips,” said David Gorin, president of Best Parks in America. “For years, the camping vacationer has had to ‘guess’ whether the park would have the experience they were looking for. We are taking the guesswork out of vacation planning by providing a resource of highly rated RV parks and campgrounds that focus on great camping experiences.”
The directory also offers information on Best Guests in America, the complementary loyalty and rewards club for travelers who enjoy visiting the best parks as they travel. Membership in Best Guests is free always and members receive special VIP treatment whenever they check in at one of the Best Parks. Readers can join Best Guests immediately by visiting http://www.bestparks.com and clicking on the Become a Best Guest tab.
For more information contact Deb Kohls, vice president of Best Parks in America, at (714) 269-1264.
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.”
Best Parks in America (BPA), a national marketing and business development network serving the RV park, campground and outdoor recreation destination industry, announced the affiliation of Normandy Farms Family Campground, Foxboro, Mass.; Lakewood Camping Resort, Myrtle Beach, S.C.; and Twin Fountains RV Park, Oklahoma City, Okla.
“The addition of these terrific parks to the Best Parks network of outstanding parks is a major step towards the national expansion of Best Parks and its ability to meet consumer demand for high quality outdoor recreation destinations and travel parks,” said BPA President David Gorin.
“With the expansion of the Best Parks program in late 2011, starting off 2012 with the addition of these resorts is an indication that we are heading into a period of new growth for the network. We look forward to expanding the network this year and working with many park operators of highly rated parks who would benefit from affiliation,” said Gorin.
Amenities offered at the new affiliates include:
• Normandy Farms is a luxury camping destination established in 1971. The resort offers a peaceful setting, an extensive and exciting activity program, spacious full service campsites, deluxe, onsite cabin and yurt rentals. The resort’s five star amenities include a 20,000-square-foot recreation lodge with adult and activity lofts, arcade, a heated indoor pool, sauna, and fitness Center. Guests also enjoy three outdoor pools, three jacuzzis, a gift shop, camp store, business center, complimentary WiFi, a snack bar, two large playgrounds, a stocked fishing pond, an 18-hole disk golf course, as well as bocce, basketball, and volleyball courts, soccer field, nature trails, and two softball fields.
• Lakewood Camping Resort is a family owned and operated resort located along a half-mile stretch of sandy beach in Myrtle Beach. Lakewood Camping Resort has been in business for more than 50 years. Lakewood Camping Resort was named Mega Park of the Year for 2010-2011 by the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds. Established in 1959 by Carl and Marion Perry, the resort offers 2,000 campsites and 135 rental villas and more than 790 villas owned by individuals from all over North America and Canada. All sites feature electrical hookups, free Internet connections, free cable, 14 full-service bath houses and onsite laundry facilities. Lakewood also offers guests a wide range of amenities including an indoor pool with spa, an Olympic size outdoor pool, two kiddy pools, five stocked fresh water lakes, golf cart rentals, beachfront playground, conference center and meeting facilities with a full service kitchen and catering.
• Twin Fountains RV Park: Owned by Dow McCarty, Twin Fountains RV Park was began development in 2004, making it the newest Best Parks affiliate. Opened in October 2006 with 81 sites, the park was immediately successful and has been expanding at a rate of 10% to15% each year and now offers 152 full service RV sites. In 2010, Twin Fountains added an exercise room with additional storage area to the 7000-square-foot building which houses the office, recreation room, store, rally room, and a pizza parlor. In addition to the physical fitness center, the park’s expanded amenities include a swimming pool, hot tub, children’s play deck and water falls. The spring of 2012 will see the construction of a new miniature golf course. And plans are for the addition of a pet exercise area in the near future.
For information, please contact Deb Kohls, vice president, Best Parks in America at 714 269 1264, or firstname.lastname@example.org.