Texas has had its share of cold snaps this winter. But that hasn’t stopped Parkview Riverside RV Park in Concan from having its best winter since it opened a decade ago.
“We’ve had a few people who have left early because of the colder weather. But it really hasn’t cost us because it’s cold all over,” said park owner Doug Shearer. “Our bookings going forward now through May are well ahead of last year.”
Shearer, who also serves as president of the Texas Association of Campground Owners (TACO), added that private campgrounds and RV parks across the Lone Star State are having a good winter. “We had our board meeting two weeks ago and everybody is reporting excellent winter business,” he said, particularly in the southern parts of the state.
Here’s a sampling of what Texas parks are experiencing:
- Hidden Valley RV Park in Von Ormy: “We’re doing great,” said park co-owner Teri Blaschke. “Last year we were 70% full from December through February. This year so far we’re 80% full.”
- La Hacienda RV Resort in Austin: “We’re doing better than last winter,” said park owner Ken Butschek, adding that his park is rebounding from the recession. “In 2007, I only had 60 sites and we turned away about 175 winter reservations. So then we added 188 sites,” he said. Then the market fell into a hard recession. But despite the downturn, Butscheck had a net gain of 30 winter visitors last year and 45 winter visitors this year. “Despite the recession, we picked up a net gain of 75 winter visitors,” he said, adding that he has doubled the park’s gross revenue.
- Rayford Crossing RV Resort at The Woodlands: “It’s very, very busy right now,” said park owner Gwen Craig. “We are sold out to April 1.” Craig said some of her guests have also reserved sites as far out as 2014.
- Surfside R.V. & Resort in Port Aransas: “We’re doing real good,” said park owner Charles Rhea. “I’m just as busy as I was last winter and my reservations are looking really good through April. Today, I even made two reservations for summer.”
- Winter Haven Resort in Brownsville: “Business is as good as it always is,” said park manager Rosie McGowan. “We expect to be full through March.”
For instance, Parkview Riverside RV Park, a 95-site in the Concan-area Hill Country, has seen a 25% increase in advance winter bookings compared to last year at this time, said park owner Doug Shearer, who also serves as president of the Texas Association of Campground Owners. And because many RVers show up without reservations, Shearer believes his winter occupancies may ultimately be up 25 to 30 % compared to last winter’s figures.
“Reservations for the remainder of the year are strong with a full park of ‘Winter Texans’ expected for the months of November through April,” said park owner Gwen Craig of Rayford Crossing RV Resort at The Woodlands. “We have witnessed a very healthy increase with our Winter Texan bookings and have also seen a surge in local residents selling their home and trying out the full-time RVing lifestyle.”
The management of 50-site Sunset Point RV Resort in Marble Falls is equally upbeat about the upcoming season, according to TACO. “One hundred percent of the Winter Texans we had in 2008 are returning and we continue to take reservations for additional sites,” said park manager Ed Robinson.
“My winter months will be very busy,” adds Charles Rhea, owner of 45-site Surfside R.V. & Resort in Port Aransas. “January to April 15 are booked for monthly sites. Only a few nightly and weekly sites are still available.”
And while he isn’t convinced that the worst of the recession is behind us, Rhea is still moving ahead with improvements to his park, including an $8,000 bathroom renovation project, which he hopes to complete before his winter visitors arrive. “I’m eager for them to see the upgrades,” he said. “They will appreciate me putting money back into the park, back into them.”
Meanwhile, Winter Haven Resort in Brownsville, which includes 525-seasonal park model sites and 29 RV sites for nightly rentals, is completely booked up for the winter season, said Juan Estrada. He added that cold weather up north has already prompted some Winter Texans to return to the park.