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Phoenix RV ‘Village’ Attracts Unique Clientele

February 25, 2013 by · Comments Off on Phoenix RV ‘Village’ Attracts Unique Clientele 

It’s Wednesday afternoon, and Pat Valsvik is playing party host. She is sipping on her Seagram’s 7 Crown and Diet Pepsi and joking about husband Lee’s shirt, which reads “If at first you don’t succeed, look in the trash for the instructions.”

When Pat, 73, and Lee, 77, used to picture retirement, they knew exactly what they didn’t want.

“We always used to drive around on the highway with our Cadillac going 80 miles an hour and these people with those RVs are tooling around at 50, and I said, ‘I’m never doing that,’” she said, laughing.

So when it came their turn, they spent a few years traveling and staying in apartments. But “in apartments, people go in, shut the door and they’re done for the night,” Pat said. So they bought an RV and a yellow Labrador puppy, Harry, and set out to find a park that would allow both.

That was eight or nine years ago. Pat, Lee, Harry and now Max, their black Scottish terrier, have found their niche at Desert’s Edge RV Village, an RV park unlike most.

Located on West Williams Drive just east of Interstate 17 in Phoenix, the village is home to a population of transient travelers, unlike the typical trailer park’s older, more-permanent demographic.

The majority of RV parks in Arizona are age restricted, allowing only visitors who are 55 or older. The majority also allow “park trailers,” also called park models, the relatively permanent housing generally associated with trailer parks.

Desert’s Edge is all-ages and does not allow park trailers, a pairing of rules that lends itself to a diverse mix of visitors.

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Arizona Parks Match or Exceed Last Winter’s Business Levels

January 17, 2012 by · 1 Comment 

RV parks and resorts in popular snowbird destinations across Arizona are reporting occupancies consistent with last winter’s figures, with some parks experiencing slight increases in occupancies over last winter.

“I think that, if anything, we see a little comeback in the economy. Even one or two percentage points is a little bit of a boost in the economy,” Jo Ann Mickelson, executive director of the Arizona Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds, said in a news release.

“We are having a very good year,” said Jim Beach, general manager of National Mobile Development, which owns the 1,800-site Mesa Spirit RV Resort in Mesa. “Our reservations were up 2% to 3%, but my sense is we’re up a little bit more than our reservations told us we were.”

Wendell Johnson, general manager of the 1,863-site Palm Creek Golf & RV Resort in Casa Grande, said his occupancies are also up. “I would say that right now we’re about 3% over last year, and we had one of our best years last year,” Johnson said. He added that Palm Creek will be filled to capacity or very close to it by the middle of February. “That’s when we hit our maximum,” he said.

Saundra Bryn, who operates Desert’s Edge RV Village in Phoenix, said her business has also been trending upward in recent years, though last year was especially busy at her park because her winter snowbirds were supplemented by insurance adjusters, roof and dent repair specialists who spent several months at her park after the city experienced a major hailstorm.

Further south, winter business levels are also in synch with last winter’s figures at the two Rincon Country RV Parks in Tucson, according to park operator George O’Leary. He added that the winter snowbird business remains strong in southern Arizona, particularly at parks that are continuing to improve their facilities and amenities.

Parks in the Yuma area are also having a good winter, including Rolle’s Lynda Vista RV Park. “Things are busy,” said park manager Ruth Conti. “I haven’t had a cancellation in years.”

Mickelson, for her part, owns J and H RV Park in Flagstaff. But even though northern Arizona is in the midst of winter’s grip, she’s already receiving reservations for the coming summer.

“I’m having lots of reservations and inquiries coming in every day now,” she said. “That’s a good sign. That’s what we want. I feel people are thinking about what they want to do, whether it’s for the winter months or the summer.”

Arizona RV Park Installs ‘Putting Purple’

May 25, 2011 by · Comments Off on Arizona RV Park Installs ‘Putting Purple’ 

Yes, folks, the "green" is purple!

Phillip Harison has been coming to Desert’s Edge RV Village in Phoenix almost every winter for 15 years.

Harison loves the Arizona sunshine and the park’s amenities, which include a heated swimming pool and spa and exercise room. But he has also been lobbying park owner Saundra Bryn for years to put in a putting green, according to a news release.

“Every time when I arrived in the fall, I would whine, ‘Where’s my putting green?’ “ Harison said.

Bryn finally relented and hired Atlanta, Ga.-based Southwest Greens to install a putting course, which was completed a couple of weeks ago. But she did it her way.

“It’s purple!” Bryn exclaimed with a smile. “It’s a putting purple!”

Tom Stuckenschneider, a 16-year sales veteran for Southwest Greens, says Bryn’s putting course is likely the only “putting purple” in Arizona, and possibly North America, for that matter, which suits Bryn just fine.

In addition to being her favorite color, the “putting purple” nicely complements her park’s purple fences as well as its purple table legs and tablecloths. It also echoes the colorful grandeur of Arizona’s mountains and skyline at sunrise and sunset. It also affords numerous marketing opportunities.

“I’m going to have T-shirts and visors made that say, ‘Have you played the putting purple at the purple park?” Bryn said, adding that she is also planning to host putting tournaments.

Harison, for his part, is quick to assert he had nothing to do with the color selection for Bryn’s putting course. But he says he’ll be the first to try it out.

“I do expect one thing,” Harison said, “The hole will stand out more because of the color. I’ll be interested to see if this helps me concentrate better on distance.”

“I think it will be a wonderful addition to the park,” said Inge Gosnell, a snowbird from Illinois who spends the winter at an RV site right next to the putting purple. “People will definitely notice it when they come into the park.”

Gosnell added that Bryn can develop a side business supplying golf clubs for RVers who don’t have their clubs with them or would simply like to try their luck on a putting purple.

The entrance to Desert's Edge RV, Phoenix, Ariz.

Traveling ‘Hail Team’ RVers Fill Phoenix Park

November 9, 2010 by · Comments Off on Traveling ‘Hail Team’ RVers Fill Phoenix Park 

Entrance to Desert's Edge RV Village

Desert’s Edge RV Village has already filled up for the winter season.

But snowbirds aren’t the only ones who are making the 213-site their temporary home away from home. Joining them are more than 30 insurance adjusters and dent repair specialists who plan to make the park their temporary home while they help local auto body shops repair an estimated 500,000 or more vehicles that were damaged three weeks ago in the worst hailstorms to hit the Phoenix area in more than 50 years, according to a news release.

And just as building contractors, carpenters and roofers flock to places that have suffered significant storm damage to homes and businesses, there is a contingent of traveling auto body repair specialists who specialize in hail damage.

“They call us ‘The Hail Team,’” said Andrea Dearborn, a traveling dent repair specialist from West Virginia. “We travel all over the country and all over the world, wherever there is significant hail damage.”

This year alone, Dearborn has repaired hail-damaged vehicles in Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvania, each time using her RV as her home away from home while she pounds out the dents in people’s vehicles. She has also traveled with other “Hail Team” members in recent years to Germany, Mexico and Greece, acting on leads from their network of insurance adjusters and weather reports.

“Hail Team” members typically partner with local auto body repair shops to help them keep up with the workload, though they will also rent out additional garages if they need more work space.

“We have our own tools, and we can literally set up shop in an afternoon,” said Neal Dimmit, a dent repair specialist from Palm Harbor, Fla., who travels from job-to-job with his wife and 120-pound Alaskan husky.

And with the downturn in the economy, some dent repair specialists have also found they can supplement their local business income by taking their dent repair services on the road. That’s the approach currently favored by Kurt Weilbacher of Baton Rouge, La., who works with a partner to manage dent repair assignments in Baton Rouge and in Phoenix, while using their RV as their temporary home and office.

And while America’s “hail season” typically runs from March to October, the early October storms created so much damage in the Phoenix Valley that the “Hail Team” expects to spend the next four to six months before their work is completed.

All of this is good news, of course, for Desert’s Edge RV Village Managing Partner Saundra Bryn, who noted that advance reservations for the upcoming winter season were already running ahead of last year’s figures.

“Hail Team” members, for their part, like staying in the comfort of their own RV while they do their work, and they like the friendly outdoor hospitality that campground owners provide.

“The people at Desert’s Edge are so nice and the park is so well taken care of,” Dimmit said.

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