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The Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation plans to break ground northeast of Phoenix, Ariz., in less than two weeks on an RV park that marks another step in the tribe’s economic-development strategy to become a full-service tourist destination, according to The Arizona Republic.
A more significant and expensive move in that direction will occur in March when construction begins on a previously announced 250-room hotel and conference center.
The tribe, whose lands are outside Fountain Hills, Ariz., plans to open the 150-space, 19-acre park for recreational vehicles late this year and the hotel in fall 2005, said Michele Crank, tribal spokeswoman.
The ground-breaking for the $3.2 million RV park is scheduled for Feb. 4. It will include a clubhouse, swimming pool and spa located across Arizona 87 from the tribe’s Fort McDowell Casino and near the Verde River, the newspaper reported.
The hotel will be to the west and within walking distance of the casino. Its price is not final.
The tribe also plans to expand its popular We-Ko-Pah Golf Club by 18 holes. No time frame has been established.
“I think the RV park is going to be an enhancement to our tourism industry,” Crank said.
Don Weintraub, general manager of the upscale CopperWynd Resort and Club in Fountain Hills, likes the tribe’s RV park and hotel plans.
“The proximity of a project going up in the general Fountain Hills area brings more exposure (and) brings some more critical mass to the Fountain Hills area as a destination,” Weintraub said.
While opinions vary on RV parks, “the fact is that there’s a proliferation of RVs in the country these days and let’s face it, an RV’s not exactly a cheap piece of equipment,” he said. “So from that perspective, I don’t see any problem with it at all. It brings more potential spending to the local area.”
Tribal officials plan to hire a management company to operate the park, Crank said, adding that the hotel will carry the Radisson name.
There are no casino expansion plans, Crank said. The casino has 775 slot machines, 15 poker tables and 16 blackjack tables, according to the state Department of Gaming.
Harold Marshall, owner of Green Acres RV parks in Mesa and Tempe, expects the tribe’s park to do well with the casino’s proximity.
The demand for RV campground spaces is just starting to pick up after a slow start to the winter season, said Marshall, whose parks have a combined totalof about 150 spaces.
“I think the economy probably has something to do with it,” he said of the vacancies his and other parks have had this season.
The state has about 1,000 RV parks with roughly 175,000 spaces, according to the Arizona Office of Tourism and Arizona State University Center for Business Research. More than half of those are in the Phoenix-Apache Junction area, with 541 parks and 102,500 spaces.
W.E. O’Neil Construction Co. of Arizona and Leo A Daly architects were awarded the contracts for the RV park and hotel.
George Hulstrom, vice president of marketing and business development for O’Neil, said the park’s location near the river would be attractive.
Officials with the nearby Out of Africa Wildlife Park on tribal land, say it will be relocated because it needs more space, not because of the RV park.
The tribe, whose reservation spans 24,000 acres, also operates Fort McDowell Adventures, Fort McDowell Farms, Ba’ja Gas Station and Fort McDowell Yavapai Materials.