New Owner Revives Scenic Redwoods RV Park

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May 20, 2010 by   - () Leave a Comment

One of the campsites at Santa Cruz Redwoods RV Resort, Felton, Calif.

Rich and Sarah Martin snagged a prime location at Santa Cruz Redwoods RV Resort near Felton, Calif., giving them a close-up view of the scenic San Lorenzo River.

"It's a beautiful spot," said Rich Martin, a firefighter from Denver vacationing along the California coast for his 40th birthday.

Six months after new owner Larry Andrews announced plans for long overdue repairs, the 84-space RV park at 4980 Highway 9 looks like new, according to the Santa Cruz Sentinel. The campsites are leveled with newly installed electrical connections. Overgrown areas have been cleared to make room for tent sites and picnic tables made from the resulting lumber.

The clubhouse sports a new deck overlooking the river. The bathrooms sparkle and the park office, now painted red, announces the new name.

Last December, when Andrews bought what was River Grove RV Park for $1.5 million following foreclosure, it was in a sorry state.

Designed more than 30 years ago, it was operating as a membership park, with members paying as little as $5 to $10 a night. Facilities were rundown and the septic system needed replacing.

All that has changed under Andrews.

His vision is a camping resort catering to families with modern amenities like Wi-Fi, which travelers today demand, and cable.

He plans to invest $400,000 in improvements over the next two years, according to James Urquhart of Petaluma-based Campground Management Group, retained by Andrews to run the park.

A playground, amphitheater, campfire pit, bocce courts and dog park are scheduled to be finished by Memorial Day.

"It's a lot of blood, sweat and tears," said Andrews, a Rancho Cucamonga resident who made his first visit to Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park on Wednesday. "This is something I'd like to keep in my family for years to come."

Joyce Hahn, the petite and gregarious new manager, hasn't had a day off since she arrived April 7 from Phoenix.

"There's so much to do," she said, leading a visitor on a tour of the prime spots by the river.

Hahn, who has experience as a teacher and as a chief financial officer, tried the RV lifestyle and got hooked herself, giving her a new career.

Overnight rates have gone up since the upgrade. RV owners will pay $55 to $85 per night, tent campers $35 to $45, with river views commanding a premium.

Campers who had memberships will be offered an introductory discount, according to Urquhart.

A lot of spaces were empty this week, but Lynn Holland, 67, of Brentwood, interviewed next to his 35-footer, called the makeover first-rate and the rates reasonable.

"It's a killer deal compared to the competition," Holland said, noting Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park has no electrical, water or sewer hookups and charges $35 a night.

Looking out at the redwoods, he added, "There's so few places on earth like this."

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