Think for a minute of the scenarios prompted by the Covid-19 pandemic. First, there was the move away from cities in a quest for wide-open spaces. About the same time, many Americans realized they could work from anywhere. Next came a desire to vacation safely without ever getting too close to the public. Over the months following, there dawned a sense that life is finite, and it’s never too early to live your dreams.
When contemplating each and every one of these influences, is it difficult to understand why sales of recreational vehicles have skyrocketed over the past 14 months? When Covid hit, the RV quickly came to be regarded as the safest way to travel. That’s one way the virus added additional fuel to an already-booming demand for the RV lifestyle.
The RV Industry Association (RVIA) reports RV shipments grew 4.5% in 2020, despite a Covid-induced industry shutdown of almost two months. The RVIA is forecasting an increase of 19.5% RVs shipped this year. The projected 507,200 units would represent an annual record, surpassing the 504,600 units shipped four years ago.
“Demand for RVs and the RV lifestyle is at record levels,” Bobby Cornwell, executive director and CEO of the Florida Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds, was heard to say recently. “Even before the pandemic, we were seeing growing numbers of people in their 50s and 60s working from their RVs and enjoying the snowbird lifestyle.
“Now, with the pandemic, even families are realizing they can take the kids and enjoy the RV lifestyle more. All of this is fueling demand for more RVs, and more RV sites, in Florida and across the country.”
More Parks, Perks
When it comes to naming the hot spot for new RV parks, Florida easily captures the number one ranking, with Texas coming in a strong runner-up.
The National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds estimates more than 53,000 new RV sites will be constructed across the nation in 2021. The Sunshine State has recently seen the addition of 19 new RV resorts, along with more than 20 park expansions. That has brought to a total of 2,500 the number of RV sites coming online.
Citing even a fraction of the new RV properties is beyond the scope of this article. But here’s a tiny sampling of the best new Florida parks, and their crowd-pleasing features.
Gaining considerable attention is Cabana Club RV Resort in Auburndale, halfway between Tampa and Orlando. Opened in March, the resort offers 155 RV sites and 60 park model rentals. A zero-entry heated swimming pool, nine-hole artificial turf putting course, tiki hut and bar, splash pad, dog parks and a dog wash station are among the common-area amenities destined to appeal to RVers. The resort will continue to grow next year, when it adds a half dozen covered or shaded pickleball courts and multi-use sports courts, as well as 125 RV sites and 65 park models.
As natural a setting as its name suggests, Island Oaks RV Resort in Glen St. Mary, about 30 miles west of Jacksonville, will appeal to the RV-ing nature lover.
Slated to open in September, the under-construction park promises a swimming lake, waterways, a fishing lake with a dock, paddle boards and kayaks. Nature areas and ponds, as well as preserved wetlands, will also pepper the expansive 121-acre property.
Billed as South Florida’s most exciting RV resort, Torrey Trails RV and Golf Resort in Bowling Green, about 45 miles east-southeast of Tampa, should attract both golf lovers and nature-loving hikers. Built on the site of an existing golf course, Torrey Trails provides a nine-hole course that serpentines through mature oak trees, a 30-acre nature preserve and a three-mile hiking trail. The resort’s first 158 RV sites were unveiled this past winter, with another 21 sites coming online in 2022.
Clearly, more and more investors eyeing the trend lines are heeding Cornwell’s advice when he says, “This is a great time to own and operate an RV park in Florida.”