New pickleball courts, exercise rooms, swimming pools and clubhouses are among the latest amenities at snowbird-friendly RV resorts across the Sun Belt.
New and newly refurbished RV parks are also expected to open this fall in Florida and California, while additional new parks are expected to open next fall in both Florida and Arizona, according to park operators and developers.
“Florida needs more parks,” said Gerry Herron, who plans to open 4 Lakes Campground on a 49.5-acre site 27 miles south of St. Augustine, Florida, in November.
The 52-site park will have RV sites that average 45-by-68 feet with full hookups, including cable TV and Wi-Fi service, plus newly planted trees. The park also has walking trails as well as four ponds with a combined surface area of about 12 acres, which Herron plans to eventually stock for catch-and-release fishing.
But while 4 Lakes Campground will initially have gravel campsites and milling-covered roads, more amenities are planned for next year, including a dog park, which Herron hopes to open by spring.
Meanwhile, Tom Reinard, and his parents, Cathy and Gary Reinard, are spending more than half a million dollars fixing up the former Jennings Outdoor Resort in Jennings, Florida, which they plan to reopen this fall as the Jennings KOA Holiday campground.
“It’s an amazingly beautiful setting,” said Cathy Reinard, whose family acquired the park earlier this year. “It’s a beautiful property. We feel great about it. We just have to get it where it needs to be.”
The Reinards know what they’re getting into. They previously owned and operated the Copake KOA in New York, which was one of the highest rated KOA Holiday campgrounds in the country. By the time of this writing, the Reinards had already redone their laundry room and were preparing to redo the park entrance, remodel their restrooms and the park store. One thing the Reinards don’t have to worry about are their RV sites, which can easily accommodate most rigs. “Our average site is at least 60 feet long and 35 feet wide, and all of them are pull-throughs. We will be adding even bigger deluxe patio sites sometime this winter,” Reinard said.
Meanwhile, Jennings Realty Inc. (a fifth-generation family-owned business based in Evanston, Illinois) and Rymer Companies of Minnesota were planning to break ground this year on Sunkissed Village, a 267-site RV resort in Summerfield, Florida, near Ocala, which is expected to open in the fall of 2019, according to Darla Sinnard, who manages Jennings Realty’s sister park, Bay Bayou RV Resort in Tampa.
In Coachella, California, the first phase of a 188-site condo-style RV resort, with sites for sale and for rent, was expected to open before the end of the year, according to Patty Nugent of Coachella Vineyards Luxury RV Park LLC. She said the park would be a high-end resort with lot sites starting in the mid-$200,000 range.
Across the country, two new resorts are also expected to open in Arizona by fall of 2019, including a 414-site RV resort in Camp Verde, roughly 40 minutes south of Sedona and 90 minutes north Phoenix. The as-yet-unnamed RV resort will be just west of Interstate 17 and just north of State Route 260.
“It’s a scenic location and what we think will be a great RV resort,” said Ryan Day, who handles national manufactured housing and RV resort acquisitions and development for Plymouth, Minnesota-based Provident Real Estate Ventures, which is providing financing for the project. The park itself is being developed by Red Moon Development & Construction of Scottsdale, Arizona, which plans to equip the resort with full amenities, including swimming pools, pickleball courts, walking trails, a dog park and desert landscaping.
Farther south, Carl J. Rygg is building Sonora RV Resort, a 70-site resort on a 20-acre site that he expects to open by fall of 2019. The $2 million resort is on the west side of State Route 85, about 13 miles north of downtown Gila Bend. It will include a 2-acre lake that will be suitable for swimming and kayaking. The park will also include several amenities, including a full-service restaurant, a 3,000-square-foot clubhouse as well as pickleball and tennis courts.
Sonora RV Resort abuts off-road trails, which guests can explore in their RZRs and other off-road vehicles. Rygg said he plans to provide guided tours of the desert backroads for people who would like to explore the desert but don’t have their own off-road vehicles.
Meanwhile, operators of snowbird-friendly parks in California, Arizona, Texas and Florida are investing in new amenities and improvements.
The Springs at Borrego RV Resort in Borrego Springs, California, recently converted its existing tennis courts into eight dedicated pickleball courts and built a separate tennis court in another area that’s sunken into the ground with retaining walls around it. Resort General Manager Daniel Wright said serious pickleball players prefer having dedicated pickleball courts, rather than courts that double as tennis courts because it’s too confusing with all of the lines on the ground for the different games. Tennis players also like having their own separate – and quiet – space to play, he said, since pickleball players and their fans tend to be a bit noisy.
“The improvements have spurred a very robust pickleball activity schedule, with dozens of players involved on a daily basis during the high season,” Wright said.
Several parks in Arizona have also been making improvements. These include:
Caravan Oasis RV Resort in Yuma: New owners have invested more than $250,000 in new landscaping, new gravel and other improvements to this 510-site park since December 2017, repainting the swimming pool area and remodeling all of the activity areas for pickleball, bocce ball and shuffleboard as well as the park’s 9-hole putting green and recreation room, said Manager Michelle Agrillo. She said the improvements were significant enough to prompt representatives from the “Good Sam RV Travel & Savings Guide” to elevate the park from a 9 to a 10 during the park’s latest inspection. The park also brought in 15 new park models, which it plans to rent and sell, and created a new lounging area with hammocks.
The Gila Bend KOA Journey in Gila Bend: This 130-site park, which won this year’s Medium Size Park of the Year Award from the Arizona Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds as well as KOA’s 2018 Rising Star Award, has just added three, 150-foot-long pull-through sites, two of which have their own fenced dog runs. “It’s been a big hit,” park co-owner Scott Swanson said of the private dog runs, which are designed for overnight travelers.
Leaf Verde RV Resort in Buckeye: This 377-site park installed a new exercise room with two treadmills and a step climber and made numerous cosmetic improvements, such as re-landscaping the park entrance and erecting wooden gates to hide the park’s dumpsters.
Monte Vista Village RV Resort in Mesa: This 950-site park, which won this year’s Mega Park of the Year Award from the Arizona Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds, is being expanded by Chicago-based Equity LifeStyle Properties (ELS), which owns the resort. While an additional 237 sites are being developed, ELS has built a brand-new welcome center as well as a recreation area with a swimming pool, hot tub, cabanas, fire pits and barbecue grills. The park has also created a fresh woodshop area to complement its popular silversmith and ceramics stations.
Paradise RV Resort in Sun City: This 949-site park, which is owned by ELS, was completely redoing its swimming pool, spa and deck areas, and planned to have the improvements completed by the time you read this, according to Scott Mathews, the park’s general manager.
Willcox/Cochise KOA Holiday in Willcox: This 60-site park is investing more than $1 million in improvements, equipping every site with 30-50 amp electrical service, 48-channel cable TV and fiber-optic Wi-Fi, according to park co-owner Dennis Crull of Timberline Development Corp. in Pagosa Springs, Colorado. “We have 500 megabits per second coming into our park,” he said. “We have both 2G and 5G Wi-Fi.” Other improvements include new ADA-compliant restrooms, a remodeled laundry facility with new equipment, two new deluxe cabins, three deluxe RV sites, and a renovated store and check-in area. The park also remodeled a maintenance building into a clubhouse with a commercial kitchen. At the time of this writing, the park was building a new gunite swimming pool and spa.
In Texas, Sun Belt parks making improvements include Lake Conroe RV and Camping Resort in Willis, another ELS park, which now has an upgraded marina and boat ramp, and a recently opened, tree-lined RV section with pull-through sites as well 67 new concrete slabs, 50-amp hookups, a creekside walking trail, a picturesque park and a revitalized dog run with obstacles.
The Jellystone Park in Kerrville is also renovating its River Rock Pub & Pizzeria and installing 13 new cabins, while the Jellystone Park in Canyon Lake has added new “Red Carpet RV sites” with 30/50 amp electric and cable TV service, and extra-large concrete pads, according to Tessa Wiles, director of marketing for Grand Rapids, Michigan-based Northgate Resorts, which owns both parks.
In Florida, RV resorts making improvements include the 300-site Bay Bayou RV Resort in Tampa, which expanded 53 of its sites to as much as 100 feet in length with 100-amp electrical connections, according to Darla Sinnard, the park’s manager.
“These expanded sites have been extremely popular,” she said. “If I had 50 more sites like that, I’d sell them tomorrow.”
Last year, Bay Bayou upgraded its bathhouse with granite countertops, all-new fixtures and a special nonslip floor tile that has a rough surface to provide excellent traction even when it’s wet. “We’re very safety conscious here,” Sinnard said.
Other Florida parks making improvements include ELS’s Tropical Palms RV Resort in Kissimmee, which is 4 miles from Walt Disney World Resort. The park’s 100 cottage rental units have been recently upgraded. The cottages include full kitchens, flat-screen TVs and private decks, and come in a variety of floorplans to accommodate any size group. Pet-friendly cottages are also available.
50-plus More Snowbird Parks
Looking for other RV resorts that cater to snowbirds? The following parks all earn top marks. If you don’t see your favorite listed, add yours to the comments section below.
Blue Sky Ranch RV Resort
CalAm (multiple locations)
Del Pueblo RV Park & Tennis Resort
Desert Gold RV Park
Distant Drums RV Resort
Mission View RV Resort
Phoenix Metro RV Park
Pleasant Harbor Marina & RV Resort
Quail Run RV Park
Rincon Country West RV Resort
Bakersfield River Run RV Park
Cava Robles RV Resort
Chula Vista RV Resort
Fountain of Youth Spa RV Resort
Indian Waters RV Resort
Mission Bay RV Resort
Newport Dunes Waterfront Resort
Olive Ave RV Resort
Pala RV Resort
Rio Bend Golf & RV Resort
Big Cypress RV Resort & Campground
Boyd’s Key West Campground
Craig’s RV Park
Cypress Trail RV Resort
Florida Grande Motor Coach Resort
Little Willies RV Resort
Naples Motorcoach Resort
Pelican Lake Motorcoach Resort
RiverBend Class A Motorcoach Resort
Silver Lakes RV & Golf Resort
Whisper Creek RV Resort
Creekfire Motor Ranch
Crossing Creeks RV Resort & Spa
Crossroads Travel Park
Eagles Roost Resort
Lake Pines RV Park and Campground
Pine Mountain RV Resort
Red Gate Campground and RV Park
River’s End Campground
Scenic Mountain RV Park & Campground
Sugar Mill Creek RV Resort
Alsatian RV Resort
Ancient Oaks RV Park
Buckhorn Lake Resort
Colonia Del Rey RV Park
Colorado Landing RV Park
Galveston Island RV Resort
Gulf Waters Beach Front RV Resort
Pecan Park Riverside RV Park
Stone Creek RV Park
Tropic Island Resort
The Vineyards Campground & Cabins