Editor’s Note: A family-friendly resort popular in Europe is setting up shop in Elkhart County in northern Indiana, an area highly dependent upon the RV industry and hard hit by the recession. More than $205 million will be invested to create Family Holiday Village Elkhart Inc., which includes nearly 600 family villas, a tropical water park, shopping facilities, spa and restaurants. Family Holiday Village expects to create 500 jobs and additional 500 construction jobs. Elkhart County has allocated $10 million in Recovery Zone Facility Bonds for the project.
Elkhart County today (Jan. 11) announced $10 million in assistance through Recovery Zone Facility Bonds. This assistance will be used to fund the first of three holiday villages. The first holiday village site will be located in Elkhart County, according to a news release from the Economic Development Corp. of Elkhart County.
Family Holiday Village Elkhart Inc. (FHVE Inc.), its European partners and investors plan to invest over $205 million in a family holiday village in Elkhart County. The project will launch in 2010, immediately after Elkhart County was targeted as a critical site to be supported by President Obama’s Stimulus Package. The region was severely impacted during the global economic recession and is seeking economic diversification through business attraction.
The village, modeled after successful European holiday villages, will offer more than 100 different activities and services for entertainment and leisure including an enclosed tropical water park, shopping facilities, spa and restaurants. Approximately 600 family villas will surround the Village Center. Rental units will average $55 per person per night. The site location for the village is the American Countryside Farmers Market located just south of Elkhart.
FHVE Inc. estimates the construction costs of the village to be $205 million. FHVE Inc. also estimates that the construction of the village will create 500 jobs during the building phase with yet an additional 500 permanent jobs to support the operation of the holiday village. Once in operation, the village is expected to generate $135 million in revenues per year and draw more than 1 million tourists to the local area every year.
Mike Yoder, a commissioner for Elkhart County, said, “Elkhart County has decided to allocate $10 million in Recovery Zone Facility Bonds because this project will create not only a significant number of direct jobs in Elkhart, but will generate new business for companies servicing the Holiday Village and produce significant tax revenues for the County over the years to come.”
The bonds will be issued through one of the leading financial institutions and are expected to be available in the second quarter of 2010. The Family Holiday Village Elkhart will seek additional support for the project from the state of Indiana.
The Family Holiday Village concept has been successful in Europe for the past 20 years and has held a strong market share regardless of economic downturns. Currently, occupancy levels in Europe in similar villages remain high, at around 85% year-round and are highly profitable. It is also one of the sectors in Europe that continues to expand.
The family holiday villages are aimed at the needs of urban residents who wish to escape city living and spend quality time with friends and family. Guests are able to relax in a private and environmentally friendly surrounding that combine the privacy of secluded villas with over 100 outdoor and sporting activities, shopping, dining and quality spa treatments and a range of family activities.
A team of experienced professionals
The group behind this development consists of local business people in Elkhart that currently operate the American Countryside Farmers Market in Elkhart. They have teamed up with the International Leisure Consultancy Group (ILCG), which will be responsible for the development and operation of the villages, and Carpathia Global Capital as its co-investor and financial advisor.
The village will include:
- 600 secluded villas, in a mix of 4-, 6- and 8-person villas and 60 apartments, fully equipped and furnished, offering privacy and luxurious facilities at an expected rental rate of $55 per person per night.
- Two large covered glass domes in the Village Centre, accommodating extensive entertainment and leisure facilities, including a commercial and shopping plaza and a large covered water park.
- Artificial lakes scattered throughout the Village will enhance the relaxing atmosphere.
The catchment area includes major metropolitan areas of the U.S. Midwest, a huge potential market for the holiday village. It greatly exceeds the market conditions of similar European operations, which have enjoyed an overwhelming success in the past. It is expected 85% of the visitors will come from outside of the state of Indiana, primarily from Illinois and Michigan.
Similar Family Holiday Villages in Europe have been attracting relatively more guests during economic downturns, as people are inclined to stay closer to home and live on a constrained budget.
The management team has extensive experience in the leisure industry and in developing and managing similar Holiday Villages with leading pan-European corporations. They have all held key positions at family holiday villages in Germany, the United Kingdom, France and the Netherlands.