Summer Season Park Improvements Noted
Convinced that their businesses are relatively recession proof, campgrounds are investing in capital improvement projects and, in some cases, expansions this year, according to a news release from the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds.
“Private campgrounds, RV parks and resorts know they are the most affordable vacation option. They also know they can retain their competitive edge against other travel and tourism options by investing in improvements and, in some cases, expansions,” said Rick Abare, executive director of the Maine Campground Owners Association (MCOA) in Lewiston.
Here’s a sampling of several parks across Maine that are making improvements this year:
- Balsam Cove Campground in Orland: This park, which expanded from 64 to 77 sites last year, has received permission to expand to 125 sites. “For this season we will have 98 sites and we will add the other 27 in 2011,” said Michelle Letts, the park’s owner. The park is also adding more family activities this year, including three additional horseshoe pits and 25-foot boat, which it is converting into a pirate ship with water cannons. The park is also adding a kitchen to its pavilion and plans to complete a basketball area by season’s end. The total cost of improvements is expected to be about $250,000.
- Beaver Brook Campground in North Monmouth: This 207-site park just completed installing a $250,000 waterpark, which includes two 26-foot-tall slides with over 100 feet of combined tube runs. The 10,000-square foot waterpark also includes a zero entry splash pad with fountains, water jets and a warming pool. Additional sprayground features, including a mushroom and an umbrella, will be installed later this summer. The waterpark area is designed in the shape of a clover to provide for separate areas for parents and children. The park has also made improvements to several of its electrical hookups and plans to unveil a new website later this month.
- Magic Falls Rafting Co. and Campground in West Forks: This park is upgrading its canvas cabin tents with metal roofs and plywood sidewalls.
- Red Apple Campground in Kennebunkport: Improvements at this park include a new dog run area with chain link fencing; new exercise equipment; a new 20- by 24-foot relaxation deck made out of permawood decking with vinyl railings and cruise ship style lounge chairs; a new relaxation hut with hammocks and picnic tables under a metal roof; and several new picnic tables. The park also upgraded five more of its campsites to 50 amp electrical service.
- Timberland Acres RV Park in Trenton: This family owned park, which celebrates its 25th anniversary this year, has just completed several improvements, such as completing a new laundry facility, retiling its shower stalls, building a new playground for children, grading and re-grassing many of its campsites and replacing its road front sign. Last year, the park remodeled its front office, replaced its pool liner and built recycle bins to encourage its guests to recycle.
- Troll Valley Campground and Resort near Farmington: This park plans to add 10 more campsites, most of which will be pull-through sites. The park also plans to add another septic system and add sewer service to 10 of its existing campsites. Some of the park’s electrical hookups are also being replaced. In addition, the park is making landscaping improvements and improved drainage to eliminate areas with standing water.
In New Jersey, meanwhile, several campgrounds across New Jersey have invested in new park model cabin rentals, swimming pools and other improvements in preparation for a busy summer camping season, ARVC reported.
“Several park operators are telling us that their reservations are running ahead of last year’s figures,” said Jay Otto, co-executive director of the New Jersey Campground Owners Association.
The campground business has already proven itself to be the most resilient segment of the travel and tourism business, and many parks are investing in improvements in an effort to attract even more guests.
These improvements range from upgrading electrical and Wi-Fi service to remodeling bathhouses, laundry facilities, swimming pools and camp stores. Some parks are also investing in park model cabins and other accommodations, which they offer as rental units.
Here’s a sampling of the types of improvements New Jersey park operators have made in preparation for this year’s camping season:
- Avalon Campground in Cape May Court House: This park has made improvements to its bathhouses and showers; replaced two aging trailer rentals with new rental units and purchased new playground equipment. The park has also replaced the surface areas around its pools with pavers.
- Baker’s Acres Campground in Little Egg Harbor Township: This park has improved its electrical service to more than 100 campsites and added cable TV service as well. The park has also widened several its roads and campsites to accommodate big rigs.
- Holly Shores Camp and Resort in Cape May: This park is rebuilding its swimming pool and decorating its pool area with a waterfall, lights and new decking at a cost of $125,000. The park is also spending $30,000 to improve its campsites with new landscaping.
- Camp Taylor Campground in Columbia: This park, which is also the home of the Lakota Wolf Preserve, is well known for providing its guests with educational talks on wolves, bobcats and foxes in addition to a natural setting that includes lake swimming. But realizing that many of its guests can’t leave their Internet connections for long, the park has expanded its Wi-Fi coverage this year. Wi-Fi service was previously only available at the camp office.
- Cedar Creek Campground in Bayville: This park has spent more than $100,000 on improvements this year, including $27,000 on a new rental cabin; $60,000 worth of improvements this year, including upgrading its electrical hookups to include 30 and 50 amp service; plus another $37,000 to upgrade the park’s sewer system.
- Colonial Meadows Family Campground in Egg Harbor Township: Bill and Barbara Hare, who have owned this campground for 35 years, are installing two new well pumps this year.