Filed under: Activities & Attractions, Campgrounds & RV Parks, Destination Camping & RV Resorts, Nature & Wildlife, RV Campgrounds
Hilton of RV Parks
The same guy who helped to bring the NBA to Memphis is now driven to shake up the RV Park and campground industry with his fledgling enterprise, RVC Outdoor Destinations.
Andy Cates is eager to show RV owners and outdoor enthusiasts how different Catherine’s Landing, one of RVC’s five upscale developments, is from typical RV parks and campgrounds, reports Memphis Commercial Appeal.
Three-month-old Catherine’s Landing is nestled on 400 acres of a former dairy farm along the banks of Lake Catherine near Hot Springs, Arkansas.
The entrance is a long, gently curving ribbon of asphalt that eventually reveals the modern and striking welcome center/headquarters lodge, a stone, metal, and glass building, perched on a rise overlooking the campground and Lake Catherine.
Cates refuses to label his developments as RV parks, calling them “outdoor destinations” instead. He claims to have invented a new category for the industry, one that offers consistently beautiful natural spaces, upscale amenities, and fine-tuned customer service.
RVC clamors for the kind of “segmentation” in the RV park industry that hotels enjoy. Hotel travelers instantly know from seeing the signs for a Motel 6, Hampton Inn, or Hilton what to expect from each in service, amenities, and price.
RVC considers itself the Hilton of RV parks.
In addition to the KOAs, Jellystones, and the independent campgrounds, RVC seeks to distinguish itself from public campgrounds, also.
“A lot of state and federal parks have incredibly attractive outdoor environments, but an underwhelming service culture and operating culture,” 41-year-old Cates says.
The lodge has a store, wine and coffee, large fireplace with a flat-screen TV, washers and dryers, a fitness room, and even a “Wii-dia room” where families can play Wii video games on a large screen.
RVC doesn’t just provide Wi-Fi and coffee, he says. “We offer good Wi-Fi and good coffee.”
Planted among the 120 concrete RV pads ($40 to $45 daily weekdays, $42 to $50 weekends) are young oak, elm, and pine trees. The new grass turf has not yet been established.
A row of 25 RV sites line the bank of calm Lake Catherine. Construction of Remmel Dam turned a river into an 11-mile-long lake in 1924.
At Catherine’s Landing is a 13-slip dock, where pontoon boats and kayaks are available to rent.
Catherine’s Landing doesn’t accommodate tent campers, but does offer high-end camping—glamping—with five air-conditioned yurts ($50-$70 a night) clustered under a canopy of towering trees.
Atop the hill behind the welcome lodge sits 10 small cottages ($140 to $160 a night) that can sleep four people within their 400 square feet.
In future phases, RVC plans to sell the cottages and lease the ground they sit on.
Both the corporate and independent owners of other campgrounds might acknowledge how nice their new competition is, but question the business model.
After all, they’re receiving roughly the same per-unit revenue without nearly the costs RVC has born.
“On a per-unit basis, we’re way out there and we know that,” Cates says.
“If the consumer does not reward us, we’re in trouble.” RVC must enlarge its scale exponentially, creating a network of many dozens of outdoor destinations across the nation, he says. “We’re not doing this for just six properties.”
Eventually RVC may raise prices to befit its amenities, but for now the company is sharply focused on getting more and more guests.
RVC Outdoor Destinations
Located within beautiful, natural environments, RVC Outdoor Destinations feature services and amenities expected from upscale hotels, all located within minutes of great activities and attractions unique to each property.
Catherine’s Landing, an RVC Outdoor Destination, near Hot Springs, Arkansas.
Pine Mountain, near Callaway Gardens, Georgia, is a former KOA and independently owned campground renovated by RVC with 189 RV pads, six yurts, and two cottages. Opened in 2007.
Carrabelle Beach, on Florida’s Forgotten Coast, about an hour from Tallahassee with 80 RV pads, four cottages, and boat club. Opened in 2010.
Live Oak Landing, near Destin, Florida, on peninsula in Choctawhatchee Bay with 110 RV sites and 14 cottages. Opened in 2010.
Mountain Springs, 10 minutes west of Asheville, North Carolina featuring 13 log cabins. Plans are to build a full RVC outdoor destination with RV sites.
This is not another place.
It is THE place.
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