The upcoming winter season is shaping up to be at least as busy, if not busier, than last year for campgrounds, RV parks and resorts that cater to Winter Texans, according to the Texas Association of Campground Owners (TACO).
“Our members are reporting strong advance bookings that are at least on par with last year’s figures, while some parks are projecting occupancy gains of 5 to 15 percent or more,” said Brian Schaeffer, TACO’executive director and CEO.
Several park operators said they were pleased with the pace of winter reservations for the 2010-2011 season.
“Last winter was the busiest winter we’ve ever had, and as of right now, we’re looking to be about even or above last year’s figures,” said TACO President Doug Shearer, who owns the 95-site Parkview Riverside RV Park in Concan.
Don Temple, owner of Guadalupe River RV Resort in Kerrville, said he expects a busier winter, too, with occupancies up at least 10% to 15 % above last winter’s figures. “Reservations are steadily coming in and we’ve got lots of deposits, more deposits than last year. We’ve also got more rallies scheduled this fall,” he said.
Teri Blaschke, who co-owns Hidden Valley RV Park in Von Ormy, said her advance reservations were running well ahead of last year’s figures. “I would say that we’re expecting about a 25% increase (in business this winter), just looking at what we’ve got so far,” she said.
Koyote Ranch in Medina also anticipates a stronger winter season. “We’ve doubled the Winter Texan group in the past year and a half,” said Pete Cook, the park’s general manager. “I think we’ll be twice as busy this winter as we were last winter.” The six-year-old park features 50 RV sites, 31 log cabins, a 5,600-square foot home, which the park uses as a bed and breakfast inn, a bunkhouse and tent camping areas.
Meanwhile, Gwen Craig, who owns Rayford Crossing RV Resort in Spring as well as Timberline Ridge RV Village in Magnolia, said she expects her winter occupancies to be up about 5 percent, based on the latest reservation statistics. “We’re looking at 90% to 95% occupancy,” she said, adding. “We’re getting lots of new people, people who haven’t been with us before.”
Chicago-based Equity LifeStyle Properties, which owns and operates several RV resorts in the Rio Grande Valley, said its initial advance reservations for the upcoming winter were running 8% ahead of last year.
Other park operators said they expected their occupancies to be up only slightly this coming winter. “At the moment, we’re just a little bit up from last year,” said Ed Welliver, owner of Oleander Acres RV Park in Mission.
Jeni Wilson, manager of Bentsen Palm Village RV Resort in Mission, said her advance winter reservations were running about 1% ahead of last year. The park has 247 sites, including nine with 650-square foot casitas and four with park model rentals.
Tom Brooks, general manager of KOA in South Padre Island, said he expects his Winter Texan business to be about even with last year’s figures.
Some park operators said it was difficult to predict the strength of the upcoming winter season. “It’s hard for us to tell until the last minute because lots of people wait until the last minute (to make their reservations),” said Bonita Story, RV office manager for Llano Grande Lake Resort in Mercedes. Roughly half of the resort’s 1,200 sites accommodate transient RVers, she said.
The Texas Association of Campground Operators publishes and distributes the Texas RV Travel & Camping Guide to Texas each year. For more information about the directory or for statistics involving the latest camping trends in Texas and New Mexico parks, please contact Brian Schaeffer at (817) 307-0129 or visit http://www.texascampgrounds.com/ and http://www.texascabinrentals.net.