b'and wastewater treatment services torestaurants.Both TheReefandAunt Longtime Florida Park Operators Offer Practical Advice help market sales of land.KatesattractguestsatNorthBeach Floridas longtime park operators have words of wisdom to share with park operators across NorthAt one time, our family-owned aboutCamp Resort as well as other residents America, which can be helpful to newcomers to the private park business, as well as park operatorsa mile of waterfront along both the in- and visitors to the island. with children or grandchildren moving into management positions in the business:tercoastal waterway and the ocean, saidNorth Beach Camp Resort offers bas-From Fran Myers, owner of the Red Coconut RV Park in Fort Myers Beach:Ken Usina, a third-generation co-ownerketball, bocce ball and shuffleboard, butEducate yourself: Attend tourism and campground association meetings to learn as much as youand operator of the North Beach Campmost guests simply come for the beach can about the tourism and private park industries and how they are changing.Resort. In fact, the bridge connecting St.and to get away from it all. Were kind ofBring your park up to date: These days, Myers said, the folks who are coming in with those bigAugustine to North Beach is named thedisconnectedfromtherestofthe 40-foot rigs are CEOs and they want every service imaginable. You have to learn to accommodate theFrancis and Mary B. Usina Bridge inworld, Ken Usina said. different people that come in.recognition of their efforts to developWhile spring and early summer areProvide the best service you can: Your guests are the most important thing you have. Make sureNorth Beach.typically the busiest at the park, this past they have the best service and the best vacation they can possibly have, Myers said.North Beach Camp Resort initiallywinter was very busy, too, with lots ofConsider comping campsites to reporters and bloggers who can promote your park. had 30 sites, which were built in a circle.people checking in every weekend. On From Frank and Ken Usina, owners of North Beach Camp Resort in St. Augustine: The park has since expanded to 150 sitesone Friday in December, for example,Be true to yourself and create your own niche. For the Usina family, this has meant not on-ly offeringand Usina is currently expanding thethe park had about 75 check-ins. Thats a campground with a scenic setting but restaurants that reflect their familys northeast Florida heritage,half our park, Ken Usina said. as well as their Menorcan roots.TheUsinasarealsonoticingthatMake sure you have money behind you: If you cant afford to stay in business and not makemore guests are young, working people. money, you better not do it, Frank Usina said, adding, We are very fiscally conservative. Because ofWeve certainly had more working fam-that, when COVID hit, we had to briefly shut down. But we were able to take advantage of that and doilies this year, Ken Usina said. I see a lot some construction activity that we would otherwise have had to close for. more working families with their com-From Henry Boyd Hamilton, owner of Boyds Campground in Key West: puters.Involve your children in every aspect of your business so they can develop their skills, particularlyEight members of the Usina family if you would like to groom them to take over the business someday: We have kids working in every as- currently own and operate North Beach pect of our business, including accounting, the front desk, and community involvement, Hamilton said.Camp Resort and its associated busi- Be willing to let go and trust the generation behind you to make the right decisions with your busi- nesses. We have close to 100 employees ness: We grew up in one era and the next generation in another. We have to be able to trust that the nextNorth Beach Camp Resort is adding 70 sites.between the two restaurants. The camp-generation knows how to appeal to people of their generation more effectively, Hamilton said. He citedparkbyanother70sites,thefirstofground has about 20, said Ken Usina, changes in marketing as one example, noting the evolution from billboard advertising to online marketing.which they hope to have ready by thiswho manages the overall business and winter.investments while his wife, Traci, over-This is a very popular park, Kensees reservations and daily operations. Usinasaid,addingthattheislandisRed Coconut RV Park inheavily wooded, like a state park, withFort Myers Beach oak, magnolia and red cedar trees andTom and Fran Myers initially raised there is ample space between camp- their family in Toledo, Ohio. sites, which give guests plenty of privacy.ButfrequentfamilytripstoFortWe have a lot of trees and vegeta- Myers Beach eventually prompted the tion, which inhibits our ability to put inMyers to relocate to their favorite vaca-Wi-Fi. But people dont come here fortion destination and, eventually, to pur-Wi-Fi, he added.chase the Red Coconut RV Park, one of While the park is not on the beach, itFloridasoldestcontinuallyoperating spans most of the width of the islandprivate parks, which dates to 1932, when and is within a few hundred yards ofit was known as the Red Coconut Trailer both the Atlantic Ocean and the inter- Camp, according to early news reports. coastal waterway between North BeachThe Red Coconut is one of only a very and St. Augustine. We do have directsmall number of RV parks in Florida that access to the river behind us and thehave campsites along the white sand ocean in front of us, Usina said. Sun- beaches of the Gulf of Mexico. rise is on the ocean and sunset is on theThe Red Coconuts early guests in-river.cluded Mina Edison, wife of Thomas The Usina family has expanded NorthEdison, who entertained a church group Beach Camp Resort every decade or so.at the park in 1933. Other improvements have included util- My mother started coming to the ity upgrades, the installation of a heatedRed Coconut in the 1960s, said Fran swimming pool and the opening of aMyers. Then when my boys were little, second restaurant in 1989, which servesshebroughtthemonvacationhere. seafood as well as meat, poultry andThen we started coming once a year, pasta dishes.then twice a year and then three times a Originally called Comptons, after itsyear. first chef, the restaurant closed in 1999Myers eventually realized her family as a result of Comptons declining healthneeded to decide whether they wanted and hurricane damage. But the Usinato stay in Toledo or move to Fort Myers family reopened the restaurant in 2002Beach, which is located on Estero Island, as TheReefandithascontinuedina narrow island off the coast of Fort operationeversince,offeringoneofMyers,abouttwo-and-a-halfhours northeastFloridastrueoceanfrontsouth of Tampa.The Red Coconut RV Park is famed for its white, sandy beaches along the Gulf Coast. 30 November 2021Woodalls Campground Magazine'