Florida RV Parks Report Increasing Number of Snowbirds

As Florida heads into its peak winter season, many RV parks and resorts are reporting increasing numbers of snowbirds who are showing up at the last minute without reservations, while others are splitting their time between resorts in different parts of the state.

“The Baby Boomers are coming now,” Lynda Phelps, owner of Up River RV Resort in Fort Myers, said in a news release.

And unlike snowbirds of years past, who would book sites for the whole season, Phelps said Boomers are more likely to book campsites at the last minute, often calling from the road.

“They are more tentative, probably because they are just getting their feet wet” in seeing what Florida has to offer, she said.

But even if they only make a reservation for one night, Phelps finds that her winter guests often wind up staying for a week or more, once they get an idea of her park’s amenities, which include a heated swimming pool and spa; a 9-hole non-regulation golf course; tennis; bocce ball; and fishing and kayaking along the Caloosahatchee River.

But even though today’s winter visitors are more spontaneous, Phelps said her winter business levels are strong.

“Our business is up over last year,” she said. “We’re having a good season.”

Tim Deputy, general manager of Sun N Fun RV Resort in Sarasota, said his business is way up from last year’s figures, with a 20 percent increase in RV site rentals and a 27 percent increase in park model rentals. He said the park is “fully booked” for February and March.

He attributed the increase in part to the resort’s new indoor pool and wellness center, which was completed in time for the winter season.

Life is good at Ramblers Rest RV Resort near Sarasota, Florida. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

“It’s just insane,” Deputy said. “I’ve never seen so many people working out in the resort.”

John Parkhurst, manager of Holiday Travel Resort in Orlando, said occupancies at the 935-site park are consistent with last winter’s figures, though he is also experiencing a large influx of snowbirds show up at his park without reservations.

“We’re getting people who are staying longer,” he said. “They come in for a month and they stay longer.”

Carefree RV Resorts, which operates 28 resorts in Florida, is seeing growing demand for RV site rentals this winter.

While the company’s daily, weekly, and monthly occupancies are flat this month compared to last January, daily, weekly, and monthly RV site rentals are up three percent and four percent, respectively, in February, said David Napp, the company’s CEO.

Across Florida, business levels appear to be strongest along the West Coast, with parks in other areas of the state reporting business levels that are either flat or slightly down from last winter’s figures, said Bobby Cornwell, executive director of the Florida Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds.

Chris Long, a general manager and partner at Central Park of Haines City, said occupancies are down three to four percent at his park this winter, which he attributes in part to “jumpers,” snowbirds who split the winter in different parks to see what the different regions of Florida have to offer. But while his overall occupancies are down this winter, Long is seeing exceptionally strong demand for park model rentals at his park.

“Either they have an RV and gave it up or they want to try it before they buy a park model or another RV,” he said, adding, “The rental market is strong.”

Bill Harvey, who owns and operates Cross Creek RV Resort in Arcadia, said his business is about six percent ahead of last winter’s figures.

“The activity is very strong,” he said.


Florida Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds

Camping at Clerbrook RV Resort near Clermont, Florida. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The Florida Association of RV Parks & Campgrounds (Florida ARVC) is the professional trade association for RV Park and Campground Owners in Florida.

The association is the Florida affiliate of the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds, the national voice of the outdoor hospitality industry.

Address: 1340 Vickers Road, Tallahassee FL 32303

Phone: (850) 562-7151

Website: campflorida.com

Worth Pondering…
My parents didn’t want to move to Florida, but they turned sixty and that’s the law.

—Jerry Steinfeld

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Five Things You Need to Know Today: January 20

Since I like things to come in fives (and tens), here are five things YOU need to know TODAY!

1. Virginia State Parks Set Overnight Visitation Record

Let's Go RVing to Shenandoah River State Park. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Virginia State Parks celebrated its 75th anniversary in 2011with contests, special events, and near-record attendance. They also hosted more overnight visitors than any year in history. Overnight attendance in state park cabins, campgrounds, and lodges increased three percent to 1,055,875, up from 1,022,698 in 2010.

“Year after year, Virginia State Parks continue to host record numbers of visitors,” said Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation State Parks Director Joe Elton.

The 2011 overall attendance of 7,836,246 visitors was the second highest in the state park system’s 75-year history, down slightly from the record-high attendance of 8,065,558 in 2010.

Because Virginia State Parks generally are in less developed areas, they remain an important economic stimulant in rural communities when millions of visitors spend tens of millions of dollars on local goods and services.

For more information about state park activities and amenities, or to make reservations in one of the 25 parks with camping facilities or 18 parks with cabins or family lodges, call the Virginia State Parks Reservation Center at (800) 933-PARK or visit virginiastateparks.gov.

2. The Ultimate RV

Check out this futuristic luxury recreational vehicle from Marchi Mobile. Taking a rather futuristic leap is an RV which offers luxury and comfort, along with flexibility of space. The slightly strange-looking RV is based on the strikingly futuristic truck designs of Luigi Colani. Like Colani’s trucks, the eleMMent RV sports some truly crazy looks and over-the-top parts.

The 38-foot-long, 13.5-foot-tall RV boasts around 500 square feet of usable interior area, making it larger than some apartments. The push of a single button causes a large “sky bar” to rise from the top of the vehicle, letting residents and guests party under the stars in style.’

Link here.

3. Snowbirds Can Vote By Mail

Lake County (Illinois) registered voters who spend part of the year outside of the county (usually winters) may enroll in the Snowbird Voting by Mail Program. Those enrolled will automatically receive an application for ballot by mail for the elections specified. Illinois law requires individuals voting by mail to complete an application for ballot before each election, and a ballot will be mailed to the voter only after the Clerk receives the signed application.

Visit the County Clerk’s VotingbyMail website to download a fileable Snowbird Voting by Mail Program enrollment form. Voters may also request a form by contacting the Elections Department at (847) 377-2406.

4. Lazydays Gator Fest

Lazydays in Tucson, Arizona hosts its first annual Gator Fest, a weekend of music, food, and fun. Meet the folks at Lazydays, see a live alligator up close and personal, check out new RVs, feast on BBQ, listen to live entertainment, and have a great time.

Beginning today (January 20) from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., there is a ‘meet and greet’ manager’s reception for campground guests.

Tomorrow (January 21) 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.: Lunch to find out if gator actually tastes like chicken. Gator bites and BBQ chicken will be available. The live alligator will be there too, but it won’t be cooked. Take time to enjoy the RV displays, seminars, driving courses, and more.

Sunday (January 22) 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.: Car show begins at 9 a.m.–Corvette, Classic, Exotic, Land Rover, and Mustang.

Breakfast burritos will be served 11 a.m.; BBQ chicken lunch available from noon until 2 p.m..

Stay at our campgrounds for this event! We have a special rate of $69.95 for Friday and Saturday that includes breakfast for 2 on Saturday. Plus, when you pay for your Friday and Saturday night campsite you can choose to stay either Thursday or Sunday for free. Make your reservation at the Lazydays RV Campground now by calling (800) 306-4067.

Lazydays Tucson is located at 3200 East Irvington Road, Tucson, AR 8571

5. Whooping Cranes Wintering in Kansas

Wildlife officials say five whooping cranes are spending the winter in south-central Kansas. The five endangered birds have been on private land surrounding the Quivira National Wildlife Refuge and Cheyenne Bottoms State Wildlife Area.

Dan Severson, Quivira’s refuge manager, said in a news release Tuesday (January 17) that the birds include a family of three, one juvenile crane, and a single adult.

The birds usually stop in Kansas on their way to the Texas coast, but these birds appear to be settling in. Severson says it’s possible the birds are staying because of the ongoing drought, combined with a mild winter. He says that leaves a steady source of food and water in the area.

Have a great weekend.

Until next time, safe RV travels, and we’ll see you on the road!

Worth Pondering…

Experience, travel—these are as education in themselves.

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