Sun-N-Fun Basks In Awards & Florida Sun
When Sun-N-Fun RV Resort in Sarasota, Fla., was crowned 2013 Mega Park of the Year from the National Association of RV Parks & Campgrounds (ARVC) at the association’s annual convention last November, they likely had to perform some creative space management on their awards shelf at home to make room for it. Sun-N-Fun has won that title three times now, along with accolades such as Best Family Recreation Place in Sarasota from Family Living Magazine, the ARVC Plan It Green Award, the Sarasota Chamber of Commerce’s Investing in the Future Award, and ratings and recognitions as long as your RV sewer hose.
That doesn’t stop General Manager Tim Deputy from savoring this award any less. He’s been at Sun-N-Fun for 13 years now after a career in the restaurant industry and has found the change of pace to be exhilarating. “It’s always exciting here,” he said. “There’s never two days that are the same.”
That’s not surprising, given that the term “Mega Park” most certainly applies here. Sun-N-Fun RV Resort, which was acquired by Carefree Communities in early 2013, is a 177-acre property with about 1,500 sites collectively for RVers and park model RV vacation homes to rent or own, and the sites are just the tip of this colossal iceberg. There are venues for sports such as tennis, basketball, volleyball, lawn bowling, Bocce ball, horseshoes and shuffleboard, as well as two doggie “bark parks;” studios for crafts and artisan hobbies such as stained glass making, painting and woodworking; special event areas and programs that allow them to host RV rallies, weddings, birthday parties and corporate retreats; health and wellness structures such as the fitness center with its exercise rooms, yoga studio, sauna, steam room and Neuro Gym; a day spa and pet grooming salon for pampering; and recreational areas that include pools, hot tubs, splash pad, a poolside bar & grill, playgrounds, a lake and marina for fishing and boating – and yes, much more.
Like most southern Florida RV resorts, Sun-N-Fun has been a “snowbird-driven” campground for most of its 54 years, according to Deputy, with RVers coming from the Great Lakes states and Canada starting in October and staying through March.
And like other resorts, they were pretty empty during the summer once the snowbirds went home. But Deputy looked around one day during “a period where we weren’t doing anything,” and said, “Hey, guys, we’ve got great facilities; we might as well use them. There’s people out there just dying to have a day of recreation.” That’s when the resort expanded its amenity list and program of activities and starting marketing heavily to families and locals. Looking at that expansive list, one might think that Sun-N-Fun exploded its offerings to be all things to all people, but Deputy said they simply identified the two audiences they wanted to serve and then went after them in a “mega” way by selecting each addition to the grounds or schedule as a deliberate draw for one or the other – or both.
“There’s something like 20,000 RVs registered in the state of Florida, and they’re not all Prevosts,” he said. “These are families, and they’ve got travel trailers and RVs of all different sizes. There are a lot of RVs out there; people just don’t realize it.”
For the full profile, pick up January's Woodall's Campground Management.