Cherry Hill Park: An Oasis of Sanity in D.C. Area
Cherry Hill Park, a high-volume urban facility well known to many nationally in the RV park and campground business, has its roots in a late 1920s chicken farm, general store and gas station outside the nation’s capital in College Park, Md., where people traveling along Route 1 would camp behind the store for the night.
“That is how we got into the campground business,” said owner Mike Gurevich, whose great-grandparents, Jacob and Rose, owned the original property. “Cherry Hill Park is the most recent version of our family business. My grandparents, Morris and Anne, were farmers and moved to the campground in the early 1950s. In the 1960s there was increased interest in camping and the new Capital Beltway opened up the availability of more property. By the middle of the decade Cherry Hill Campcity was very busy with visitors to Washington D.C.”
As a result, Gurevich, along with his wife, Linda, parents, Joan and Norman, brother, Gerry, and sister, Sharon, decided to build a new state-of-the-art campground. In 1989 they closed the old campground and opened the doors to Cherry Hill Park, located about a mile away. Today Mike and Linda own and operate the family business as the fourth generation.
Cherry Hill Park caters primarily to Washington, D.C. visitors and has come a long way from its chicken farm days.
“From the moment we decided to build Cherry Hill Park, our goal was to build a first-class, state-of-the-art camping resort,” says Gurevich. “We are always looking to improve with that goal in mind. We are rated by Woodall’s as 5W/5W and by Trailer Life 9.5/9.5/9.5. We were twice awarded ARVC’s Campground of the Year in the large campground category, and we want to stay among the leaders in this industry.”
Cherry Hill, at the same time, recently hosted the annual spring Campground Association Management Professionals (CAMP) meetings and the national issues conference sponsored by the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC). The park also regularly hosts the Maryland Association of Campgrounds meetings.
Meanwhile, it’s become sort of a media mecca. “Good Morning America” was on site due to a recent rally in D.C. and previously paid a visit to the park during the 2009 presidential inauguration to interview guests.
Access to public transportation is a key advantage for Cherry Hill’s guests.
“On weekdays over 25 buses stop at our bus depot traveling between the campground and the Washington Metrorail,” Gurevich said. “The Metrorail then takes people to the Mall area. In each of the past two years we have purchased for our guests over $300,000 in Metro fares. We also sell Gray Line tours to our guests, for those that want guided tours. While we get a commission from tours and not from Metro, we do not push one way over the other. Our goal is to help our guests sightsee the city in the manner best for them. As long as that is good, everything else will take care of itself.”
Campers typically stay between four and six days at Cherry Hill — an average of about 10,000 families a year. Last year, in fact, the Gureviches sold their one millionth camper night. Travelers, of course, come from all points on the map.
“Only about one third of our business is from regular repeat customers,” Gurevich said. “The rest is primarily from first-time visitors.”
In building Cherry Hill Park the Gureviches wanted the campground to be more of a resort than the previous version.
“As we are not in rural Maryland anymore, we must be efficient in our use of space. Consequently, our sites are comfortable but not spacious,” Gurevich said. “We are located adjacent to the beltway, but we take pride in our grounds. We like to be an oasis of sanity in a big metropolitan region.”
Cherry Hill boasts two ponds with fishing and fountains, lots of gardens and a nature trail, three bathhouses, two heated pools, hot tub, sauna, exercise room, café, laundry, game room, TV, outdoor movies, and two playgrounds. The park also operates a large conference center for meetings, parties and rallies. All RV sites are full hookups with cable TV and nearly all have 50-amp service with free Wi-Fi throughout the park. Cherry Hill also welcomes tents, including scouts, Trek America and Sun Trek.
Cherry Hill Park is a “Plan-it-Green” member and recycling is second nature.
“We do a tremendous amount of recycling and recently we have installed large solar projects including a 9.9 KW photo-voltaic system for our office/store and a solar water heating system for our conference center and pool area,” Gurevich said.
That said, Cherry Hill looks to expand in the future with more lodging facilities.
“We have been going through the zoning process in order to build luxury cabins, a lodge, indoor swimming and mini golf,” Gurevich said. “There has been a lot of growth in lodging options in recent years, and we feel that the luxury cabins, even a rustic lodge, are natural extensions of the campground industry.”
Visit www.cherryhillpark.com for more information, or call (301) 937-7116. Cherry Hill Park, 9800 Cherry Hill Road, College Park, MD 20740.