12 - February 2018 Woodall’s Campground Management ON CAMPGROUNDS Reports from the field: Bob Ashley Most campground owners would love to have the occupancy that Sea Breeze RV Community Resort in Portland, Texas, experiences across the Nueces Bay from Corpus Christi. “Westayoccupied100%ofthetime,” said Manager Nellie Kelley-Schuster, whose in-laws Dora and Otto Schuster own the 24-year-old, 160-pad park. “OurWinterTexansareveryloyaland we have 100 people on our waiting list,” Kelley-Schuster said. “We call it a com- munity resort because there’s a small town feel to it. And we’re close to Corpus.” Sittingon16acres—someofitheav- ily wooded — the Schusters added 14 sites to Sea Breeze two years ago and plan to expand further. “We have room to expand to 37 sites within the next two years and we will add a new bath house and laundry,” Kelley-Schuster said. When tourists aren’t pouring into the area, Sea Breeze can rely on construc- tion workers to fill the gap. “The corporations down here — Bechtel and Exxon — are very active,” she said.“They bring people in and out all the time, and there’s a shortage of housing in the area. “Wegetalotoftraffic,peoplemoving in and out,” Kelley-Schuster said. Amenities include a 2,000-square- foot club house with outdoor fire pit, free Wi-Fi, pool with Jacuzzi, fenced dog park, daily scheduled activities and fishingpiers.OnSaturdays,theparkhas a full breakfast for $4 for its guests. Over the holiday, Sea Breeze visitors were treated to a Christmas Eve dinner, with seven turkeys and three hams, along with all the fixings. “We do something special for every holiday,”Kelley-Schustersaid.“Families are a big demographic here and when people are here we want them to think that they are home.” Sea Breeze got hit by Hurricane Harvey in mid-August, which lingered in the area for an extended period. “We had a lot of damage from the hurricane,” Kelley-Schuster said. “It took us a month to get going fully again, although we were able to get people back in here after 10 days. We are still cleaning up.” The area also has had three freezes this winter, which is unusual. “Those cost us a little business,” she added. * * * * * Sitting along the Mississippi River in Vidalia, La., 10-year-old Riverview RV Park took a hit over the new year when frigid weather swept through the south. “We had tons of cancellations,” said LynnMarchbanks, manager of the 135- full-service-site park in far western Louisiana, across the river from Natchez, Miss. “Peoplewereworriedthattheirpipes were going to freeze up north if they left home or they didn’t want to find cold weather when they got here,” said Marchbanks. Nonetheless, Riverview anticipates an active snow bird season. “We will get busy all the way through the spring,” Marchbanks said.“We are a gateway to New Orleans and there is a lot of tourism around the Natchez Trace.” Sea Breeze RV Community resort features views of Corpus Christi Bay. below. “Oftentimes, people will just sit on the riverwalk and watch the boats and tugs go by,” she said. * * * * * Activities are paramount at Sarasota Bay RV Park in Bradenton, Fla. “We have more than 80 clubs or activ- ities,” said Tammy Forester, who has managedthe241-site,55-plusparkfor10 years.“Our visitors are always busy.” Activities include themed dinners, pancake breakfasts, craft shows and movies. Sarasota Bay is open year-round, but business slows down quite a bit during the summer season. “Since we are a 55-and-older park, we don’t get many rentals in the summer,” Forester said. “Most people don’t like the heat.” During the winter, it’s a completely different story. “We already are fully booked (until) March,” she reported in early January. That’s mostly because Sarasota Bay takes reservations with deposits a year ahead, beginning in March.“We know by March 10 what vacancies we’ll have next year, and we have a waiting list that will fill those up,” she said. Vacancies among year-to-year visitors don’t follow a trend, Forester said. “It can be two one year and 10 the next,” she reported. Park amenities include a heated pool, rec hall with a fully equipped exercise room and professional shuffleboard court. Interior roads are blacktop and pads are concrete with the exception of a group of transient sites that are used for unexpected circumstances. The park’s boat docks on Sarasota Bay are usually rented by people who stay year after year. Sarasota Bay has a strict no-pet policy thatincludespetsthatmightbeexpected to be contained in the RV. “That includes cats,” Forester said. WCM Editor-at-Large Bob Ashley is aCentralIndiana-basedfreelancewriter/ editor and a 25-year newspaper veteran who has focused on the RV industry and national recreation issues for the past 19 years. He received the 2013 “Distin- guished Service in RV Journalism” award from the Recreation Vehicle In- dustry Association (RVIA). WCM AlthoughMarchbankssaidRiverview “doesn’t cater” to children, the park’s playground was doubled in size last year. The park employs as many as eight workcampersduringthewinterseason, which has its pluses and minuses, Marchbanks said. “Along with the work campers comes retraining every year,” she said. “Right now we have four couples, four individ- ual men and one single lady. In the summer, we don’t need as many be- cause it gets hot and humid around here.” In addition to its full-service 50-amp sites, Riverview has two fully equipped cabins, another 50 pads with sewer and 20/30-ampand58othersthatwerebuilt to house FEMA trailers after Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005. They are, however, infrequently used. “They are narrow and bunched to- gether,” Marchbanks said. “They weren’t made for leisure camping.” Riverview sits on a bluff above the Mississippi with a 1 1/2-mile riverwalk Sea Breeze Resort Survives Hurricane Harvey, Keeps Busy