(L-R) New Bern KOA Holiday Operations Director Bonnie Day; KOA CEO Pat Hittmeier; New Bern KOA Holiday Manager Pat Holtzclaw; and KOA President Toby O’Rourke

The New Bern KOA Holiday in North Carolina has literally weathered a lot of adversity in 2018.

According to a press release, the campground, owned by Joel Tomaselli and managed by Pat Holtzclaw, has consistently been at the top of the list of Kampgrounds of America Inc. (KOA) parks for the past few years, and Tomaselli had invested heavily in the campground to enhance his guest’s camping experience.

That work led KOA to name the New Bern KOA Holiday as its “Campground of the Year” for 2019 during the 2018 KOA Convention currently running in Fort Worth, Texas.

“When we were selecting our campground of the year in August, the New Bern KOA Holiday seemed like the natural choice,” said KOA President Toby O’Rourke.

Then Hurricane Florence visited the North Carolina coast on Sept. 14.

The campground received severe storm damage, as well as weeks of flooding. But Tomaselli and his staff have rolled up their sleeves and got right to work rebuilding the park.

“After the hurricane hit, we really didn’t see a need to change our minds about our campground of the year selection,” said O’Rourke. “It’s actually now a wonderful story of growth and investment for the past several years, coupled with the devastation of a hurricane and the rebirth of the park that is going on right now.”

Tomaselli was unable to make it to the convention for the award’s ceremony. The award was accepted by Holtzclaw and Bonnie Day, operations director at the park, who both reported that the campground, while not fully operational, is still accepting guests.

“There are no facilities, including our accommodation units, open on the property because they have all been gutted,” explained Day to Woodall’s Campground Management. “But we are open to insurance adjusters and workers in the community who are helping to rebuild. Our goal is to have the camp store back open by the end of the year.”

In 2018, the New Bern KOA Holiday received a perfect score on KOA’s annual Quality Assurance Review. Since 2014, both camping nights and revenues on the park have nearly doubled. Tomaselli received the KOA Rising Star Award in 2004 for his work at New Bern and his second KOA property at Wilmington, N.C.

In recent years, the campground has added enhanced Wi-Fi, new “KOA Patio” sites, gazebo tent shelters, a new floating dock and completely refurbished all of the campground’s deluxe cabins.

“While it’s heartbreaking to see the amount of work that will need to be done to bring this campground back to its past glory, we are confident that Joel and his team has what it takes to make this campground better than it was before, and do it quickly,” said O’Rourke. “We think our campers will enjoy watching this KOA campground of the year come back to life in 2019. The New Bern KOA Holiday has earned its place of honor at KOA.”