Written by: Anna Sibal
01/25/2014 9:30 AM
Snowbirds are a special breed of RVers. They don't just drive down South to enjoy the milder winters in the Sunbelt States and to escape the harsher northern cold. They travel South so they can relax and have fun. And they can be very particular with what they want. After all, most of them are retirees who have built nest eggs over the years and are more specific about what will make them comfortable and more discerning about the quality of service they are getting.
Given these general characteristics snowbirds have, we wondered if owners of RV resorts in the South catering to these winter visitors do anything special to make their seasonal guests feel cozier during their stay. Thus, we got in touch with a few of these owners and asked them how they prepare for their snowbird guests.
Lake Wales RV and Campsite, Florida
Florida is historically the primary destination of snowbirds, and Lake Wales RV and Campsite in the city of Lake Wales is one of the many Floridian RV resorts that see a good lot of them. This 13-acre, family-owned RV park expects some 56 winter visitors in their respective RVs this season, along with those who have permanent units that they leave at the park for half the year. They start arriving November and tend to pack the campground by January. Many of them stay for six months and book their stay from one year to the next.
While these seasonal visitors come later in the year, the Lake Wales staff members begin preparing for them as early as April. Aside from upping their daily maintenance efforts, they do any painting, repairing and landscaping necessary to keep their grounds and facilities attractive to their guests. They also compile a calendar of weekly events from December to March ranging from dances, band performances, pot luck dinners, bingo nights and other such activities to keep their guests entertained.
Lake Wales RV and Campsite has seen a lot of folks pass through their premises over the years, and the owners think every single one of them is different with their own different stories that make them memorable. One particular guest they fondly remember is a gentleman in his 90s who arrived from New York with a travel trailer strapped on the back of a semi-trailer bed. He hadn't made a reservation prior to checking in. He drove to the office, saying he just needed a place for the winter and could the park take him in. When asked if he needed assistance to park his rig, he said: "The day I need help is the day I stop snowbirding!"
Live Oak Landing, Florida
Another Florida RV resort that gets a lot of snowbird traffic is Live Oak Landing in Freeport. An RV resort in the RVC Outdoor Destination Group, Live Oak Landing expects approximately 100 guests in 50 rigs arrive at their premises in November. These snowbirds usually stay at the park until April.
The Live Oak Landing staff members like to keep their facilities clean and upscale all year-round, so they do the required maintenance tasks on a daily basis. Come October, though, as soon as the summer crowds depart, the staff start preparing the park for the snowbird influx. The staff also get ready to act as concierge, assisting the guests as to what to see and where to go in Freeport and the surrounding areas. Additionally, they line up dinners and other events to keep the guests entertained.
Live Oak Landing doesn't really have special activities for its seasonal guests. But then again, most of these visitors come to the resort to fish and enjoy the quiet. So the staff members often organize groups for the resort's on-site fishing charter as well as give the guests room to relax in peace.
The Live Oak Landing staff consider all their winter visitors as family. When asked about their most memorable regulars, they pointed out a couple who always brings out the karaoke machine when their group arrives. They always brings energy to the resort. They also recall having a retired gentleman who drove a big rig that towed a 60ft-large 5ft wheel, and pulled his Yukon staying at the park. Despite the size of the rig, he did fit nicely into the site.
Maverick Ranch RV Park, Texas
Florida is not the only prime destination for snowbirds. The great state of Texas also plays host to a population of snowbirds every winter. Many of them travel to the Big Bend area and stay at RV resorts like Maverick Ranch RV Park in Lajitas.
Maverick Ranch is one of the facilities of Lajitas Golf Resort and Spa. The RV park hosts a minimum of 15 snowbirds every winter. They usually arrive in November and leave in April. Because the resort is open year-round, the staff don't wait for the winter season to prepare for their winter guests. Maintenance is done on a daily basis.
Right now, Maverick Ranch does not have special activities set for its snowbird guests, though the staff hope to implement some in the future. That doesn't mean there's a dearth of things to do at the resort. The winter visitors can enjoy horseback riding, bird watching, hunting, skeet shooting, and - of course - playing golf. They can also use the resort as a base for visiting Big Bend National Park nearby.
Does Maverick Ranch have a winter guest that the staff remember fondly? There's one that bakes the best cookies and breads who have been coming to the resort for many, many years. As for outrageous RVs, the staff members recall an RV with the ocean floor and mermaids painted on the side.
Snowbirds are truly a special breed of RVers. They know what they want, and they only stay at RV parks and resorts where they know they will get exactly what they want out of their winter holiday. And why shouldn't they? They have certainly earned the privilege.
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