Editor’s Note: Ocean City, Md.-based Blue Water Development began making waves in the RV resort sector in 2009 when a planned shopping center investment property turned into Castaways RV Resort and Campground in Berlin, Md. Owned by Jack and Todd Burbage, Blue Water was originally started to build housing, shopping centers and hotels, something they still do, but due to the Great Recession Blue Water began to look at managing, developing, redeveloping and building RV resorts.
Since then the company has opened 5 resorts, while selling Castaways to Mich.-based Sun RV Resorts. Currently, Blue Water owns Flat Rock Bridge Family Campground in Lebanon, Maine; Hampton Lodge Campground in Coinjock, N.C.; Chincoteague Island Kampgrounds of America (KOA) in Chincoteague Island, Va.; The Resort at Massey’s Landing in Millsboro, Del.; and the Chesapeake Bay KOA Resort & Beach Club in Cape Charles, Va.
Woodall’s Campground Management, sister publication of RVBusiness, spoke with Rafael Correa, Blue Water’s CFO, about the company’s growth over the last nine years and the ways they try to stay ahead of the curve and keep campers coming back.
Below is the edited conversation.
WCM: How does Blue Water stand out from the crowd?
Correa: We have what we call the ‘Blue Water Standard.’ It really starts with an intimate understanding of what our responsibility is to our customers. We realize that people save their money and their vacation time. They’re saving things that are of value to them in order to break away from the day-to-day activity, get a brief respite and reconnect with family. And because of what they’re investing, whether be that time, money or both, we view ourselves as having an incredible responsibility to deliver on the promise of their hopes and dreams.
Think about all the time we spend planning and dreaming about our next vacation. And because of that, really what the Blue Water Standard encompasses are all the tools that we use to deliver on that dream. It starts with amenities and all the core components of a campground that make it accessible, functional and fun. Full hook-up sites, activities in the arcade, water features, water slides, beaches, tiki bars, restaurants, coffee shops, ice-cream shops and full-service camp stores. So, you really want for nothing when you’re on one of our properties. And that really happens in the design and development stage of any project that we go after.
Then, ultimately when it comes to delivery there is a service element. So, we want everybody to know they’re an absolute priority. And again we impress upon our employees the importance of delivering on that promise of a great vacation.
WCM: How do you get buy-in from your employees? That buy-in that makes them enthusiastic about delivering the ‘Blue Water Standard?’
Correa: As any organization grows it becomes more and more challenging for the original inherent mission and values of an organization to permeate all levels. So, we’ve had a concerted effort recently as our portfolios have grown rapidly to define exactly what it is we are here to do and how we do it. So that it can be communicated effectively across all levels of the organization. Our mission, just to put it in words specifically is ‘to provide memorable experiences, appreciating the value of the time our guests have entrusted to us in places as unique as they are.’
WCM: How do you select a site for a resort or go about selecting a resort to purchase? Are there key things officials at Blue Water are looking for?
Correa: Site selection is critical and probably the first step in the process is ensuring the property has a water feature or water element. That is essential. The Blue Water name really ties itself to that and it’s not to say it has to be a naturally occurring feature, our Chincoteague Island KOA just completed a $7 million water park. That includes a lazy river, tower slides, racer slides and more. So, where the water isn’t immediately accessible, because at the Chincoteague Island KOA we’re on the bay but don’t necessarily have swimming access, we create the water feature in-house.
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