b'Parks that cater to snowbirds are expecting a busy winter as more Canadians head south.Photo: Island RetreatSnowbird Parks Prepared for a Busy Winter, Many Anticipate Seeing More Canadians, Too nBY JEFF CRIDER Meanwhile, demand for RV sites at the 368- cember, Metz-Santos said that is not unusual.manager. Sunbelt park operators generally anticipatesite Torrey Trails RV and Golf Resort in Bowl- Business is also up at several RV parks andIn California, The Springs at Borrego RV Re-a strong winter season as snowbirds make theiring Green, Fla., continues to grow. resorts in Texas.sort in Borrego Springs, a desert resort north-way south, including Canadians who couldntBusiness is exploding, said Amir Harpaz,At Miller Creek RV Resort in Johnson Cityeast of San Diego, is also running at full steam.previously travel easily into the U.S. due towho co-owns and operates the resort. Not awe are on schedule to see more Winter Tex- Our seasonal business is as strong as it COVID restrictions.single site is available, and our season has beenans/Snowbirds than last year, park operatorever has been, said Daniel Wright, the parks Many parks across the Sunbelt still have va- extended beyond the traditional season length.Spence Collins stated in an email to WCM. Al- assistant manager. We are putting the finishing cancies they would like to fill, however. SomeIn fact, we are having a lot of requests for thethough we did see a small dip in advance book- touches on 37 new sites which will bring us to of the highest occupancies are reported by2024 season already.ings when gas prices were climbing, we are200. Demand has never been greater for the popular Sunbelt parks that have a loyal base ofThe snowbird business is also strong in Al- now filling up for winter and are still receivingwinter/spring season. winter guests.abama.calls about Winter sites. We believe our contin- Scott Cory is seeing similar demand at Ven-In Florida, for example, the 300-site BayWe expect a busy winter season in Ala- ued winter success is partly due to our manytura Ranch KOA in Santa Paula.Bayou RV Resort in Tampa and the 267-sitebama, and advance bookings are putting us onpark amenities as well as being located off HwyVentura Ranch has only a portion of its Sunkissed Village RV Resort in Summerfieldtrend to reach similar occupancy levels as last281 between Johnson City and Blanco.sites set aside for long-term guests. (But) for are both sold out for the upcoming winter sea- year, said Amanda Metz-Santos, who man- The park has 90 sites.the 2022-23 season, we have already seen ear-son. ages RV resorts in Alabama.For its part, the Texas Wine County Jelly- lier bookings of sites and confirmations. Ven-Both resorts were booked by May/June ofWe are full and (have) a waiting list for Feb- stone Park in Fredericksburg is seeing ad- tura Ranch is sold out for long-term sites and 2022, said Darla Sinnard, a regional managerruary and March in both of our RV parks nearvanced winter bookings at comparable levelshasthelongestwaitlist(sincethepark for both parks, noting that returning snowbirdsthe Alabama beach, she said, referencing theto 2021 at this time, according to park manageropened). typically secure their reservations for the next173-site Island Retreat RV Park and 97-siteStacie Underhill.Cory added, however, that while Snowbirds winter before they depart in the spring.Luxury RV Resort, both of which are in GulfThe winter business at By The River Camp- rent most of the long-term sites, the strongest Sinnard added that snowbirds who wereShores.ground is slower than that of the past two win- growth rate has been for sites that are rented to displaced by damage from Hurricane Ian haveWe anticipate our transient park, Birming- ters, but the 23-site park has also had manypeople who are working. needed to find other parks to spend the winterham South RV Park, to be just as busy as lastchanges, including an ownership change, aMeanwhile, Scottsdale, Ariz.-based Roberts season.year as well, which sees a lot of Snowbirds forweb domain change and a rate increase. Resorts is seeing rising occupancies at its RV New and recently expanded parks werean overnight stop when heading down South,Right now, we have 23 sites that we rentresorts in several Sunbelt states, according to more likely to have spaces available during theshe added.for Winter Texans and only about 14 of themScott McGee, the companys vice president of upcoming winter season. Sunlight Resorts stillWhile all three parks have vacancies in De- rented, said Ilana Callahan, the parks generalRV operations. had space available at two of its new proper- In Texas, we are outpacing last years ties. Its Resort at Canopy Oaks in Lake WalesOctober to March occupancy by about 5% had 36% occupancy for November and 47% in a modest increase, but a welcome one, December, while occupancies at its ChampionsMcGee said. Demand for seasonal stays Run RV Resort in Ocala were 15% for Novem- has remained strong in the Houston and ber, 16% for December, 40% for January, 50%Austin markets. Our Alabama location, Lake for February and 31% for March, according toOsprey RV Resort, is also seeing a 5% in-Trey Lemon, Sunlights marketing director.crease over last year. If our pace in Texas Anothernewpark,the204-siteBolivarand Alabama continues to grow as it has so Beach Club & RV Resort in Crystal Beach,far this year, we anticipate our occupied which opened last summer, also has plenty ofnights to exceed last years season by about availability heading into the winter season. We8% year over year. In Arizona, we anticipate are not as booked as we would like since worda strong January to March winter season, as is spreading about us, park operator Joshoccupancy is already in the mid-90 per-ONeal said in an email to Woodalls Camp- centile across our four locations. This level ground Magazine (WCM). However, businessof occupancy is expected but was achieved at the park is likely to pick up soon as the parkMany sunbelt parks have been expanding to meet themuch earlier this year since there were no officially became the Camp Margaritaville RVdemand of snowbirds and full-time traveling workers. lingering travel restrictions for our Canadian Resort Crystal Beach on Nov. 21.guests. WCM28 January 2023Woodalls Campground Magazine'