Can we call it a comeback? A surge? A return to glory days? When it comes to profitability, development and expansion of luxury motorcoach resorts, those in the business agree that there’s a lot to be positive about these days, but they are hesitant to break out the ticker tape and start ringing the bells.
“I would say we’re cautiously optimistic,” said Jerry Kidd, president of Kidd Group Communication Design, a Tallahassee, Fa.-based company with a 30-year history and deep ties to the luxury RV resort industry. “There’s a lot of interest in luxury resorts. Not that many have broken ground too recently, but we’re getting a lot of phone calls from people poking around, and I think that’s noticeable since it’s been so quiet since 2009. As far as we’re aware, we’ve had four years without any new resorts,” he told Woodall’s Campground Management.
“Our vision is that we’re going to build 10 of these resorts,” Kidd said. “We’re currently in negotiations in the smoky mountains and near Naples, Fla.”That’s about to change in Florida, thanks to The Fountains of St. Augustine, a planned 180-unit luxury motorcoach resort currently being developed by the Devcon Group, which works with the Kidd Group on communications on the ambitious project. Construction is underway on The Fountains, with plans to open this summer. In addition to a host of luxury amenities, the resort will feature class A lots with three sizes of optional dwellings: 500, 750 and 1,450 square feet.
Also in development in Jupiter, Fla., with plans for opening this year, is the Jupiter-Palm Beach Motorcoach Resort, a 100-site resort being developed by Preferred Motor Coach Resorts, an organization headed by Randall Henderson, former president of Outdoor Resorts of America.
The numbers are clear when it comes to a continued rebound in North American RV sales, with a return to pre-2008 levels in 2013 when 303,000 units sold. Then, another increase occurred in 2014 with 349,400 units sold, and experts are predicting another 3.1% increase for 2015. But tracking the development, expansion and lot sales or rentals at luxury motorcoach resorts on a national scale is much murkier territory, simply due to a lack of centralized research.
Those within the luxury resort market, however, are consistently reporting good news, including well-established resorts that have released strong financials for 2014 and optimism for the remainder of 2015. That is the case at owner-owned Mountain Falls Luxury Motorcoach Resort in Lake Toxaway, N.C., which is nearing completion of its third and final phase of development, an 86-site build out that will bring the total number of sites to 230.
“Our reservations were up 200% in 2014,” said General Manager Barbara Oldenburger. “There definitely seems to be a surge in luxury motorcoach ownership.”
Founded in 2000 under the Outdoor Resorts of America brand, Mountain Falls changed ownership in 2012 when the owners formed a property owners association and purchased the company. Thus far in 2015, the resort reports a 37.5% increase in reservations and has closed sales on 24 of the properties for sale in phase three.
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– Ty Adams