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Q: RV Park Designers ( Answered,   0 Comments )
Subject: RV Park Designers
Category: Sports and Recreation
Asked by: ann100a-ga
List Price: $2.00
Posted: 06 Dec 2002 14:04 PST
Expires: 05 Jan 2003 14:04 PST
Question ID: 120515
I am looking for a list of RV park planners, designers or architects
(whatever the correct term is).  This could be individuals or firms. 
I need a list, an individual name or firm will not do-and preferably
within the U.S., but not exclusively so is okay.
Subject: Re: RV Park Designers
Answered By: kutsavi-ga on 06 Dec 2002 14:47 PST
Hey there Ann100a,

There doesn’t appear to be an organization of RV Park
Designers/Architects out there.  I was pretty surprised at this.    I
did, however find you a list of four designers, and some really good
additional material on starting up your own park.  The Stockwells,
listed below, have a great website, and as they were recommended by
RV-ers Online, I think that I’d be sure to at least contact them and
ask a few pointed questions.  Hope this is what you were looking for;
if you need clarification or more information, let me know!

RV Park & Campground Consultants

David Gorin & Associates
“Serving the Outdoor Hospitality Industry”
PO Box 3270
McLean, VA 22102
PHONE: (703) 448 6863
FAX: (703) 448 1721
CONTACT: David Gorin, Principal

Imler Consulting & Publishing, Inc.
2445 Harvard Street
Sacramento, CA 95815
PHONE: 916-920-0166
FAX: 916-920-1163
CONTACT: John F. Imler
CTA Architects & Engineers:

CTA Architects Engineers
800. 780. 7455


RV Park Consulting, (Recommended by RV-ers Online)

“Rich & Barbara Stockwell have been in the RV Park business since
1993. They developed Fidalgo Bay Resort in Anacortes, Washington on
waterfront property they had owned for many years. Previously they did
real estate development, developed and sold an international insurance
corporation, marketing, sales and marina development permitting.

Stockwells have done extensive research on the RV park business.
Washington State governmental agencies recommended Fidalgo Bay Resort
as a "model" to people wishing to develop a RV park. Rich and Barbara
have been assisting potential and existing parks with concepts for the
permitting process, developing business plans, design concepts,
construction, operations, software, team building, customer relations,
web pages and financing for nine years.

The "lessons" learned by the Stockwells were very expensive. Their
objective is to help others research the viability of the project.
Locations and layouts, may or may not be feasible to build or expand
upon depending upon municipalities as well as the age old "location,
location, location". The RV Park industry is changing rapidly with the
"big rigs" requiring long sites, good turning radius, modem hookups,
no trees to brush nice rigs, and on. Let us help you to be successful.

We don't charge for the initial time it takes for you to become
comfortable with us.

It is our objective to help make building, retro-fitting an older
park, or just new additions, a positive, state of the industry,
revenue bearing enterprise for you.
We wish to attract all the RVers to come and enjoy your property and
endeavors fully.

Rich & Barbara Stockwell
Call RV Park Consulting 
at (360) 202-5500 today!”

Here’s an excellent article from RV-ers Online:

Considerations in Building an RV Park

“We frequently get inquiries on the "Park Owners" side of our web site
from readers that are interested in building an RV park -- and want to
know how to get started. We usually try to respond to these inquiries,
but our reply always makes it clear that we don't consider ourselves
as experts in RV park constructions. In our travels we do make it a
point to discuss the "business of RV park ownership and management"
with park owners and managers. And we've published a number of
articles about what we consider the essential elements of a successful
RV park or campground. In that sense we may qualify as "students" of
RV park construction, ownership and management. But the best advice
for the development of specific properties will always come from those
who have fine tuned their skills in RV park management, and are now
available on a professional consulting basis.

With that disclaimer, we'd like to pass along a few thoughts that we
think are germane to those who write to us to ask our opinion on
"starting an RV park". By doing so here we will answer those queries,
within the limitations first noted, within the scope of our experience
and "amateur competence". We list below the considerations we think
would be park owners would want to consider and evaluate before
launching an RV park.

1. Location. And as many in the real estate business would likely say,
"location, location, location". The success of most RV parks is found
in capitalizing on the attractiveness of the park's location to
potential guests. Generally parks tend to be somewhere along the
spectrum of "overnight parks" to "destination parks". It's essential
to know where a proposed new park will be along that important line.
Some locations, usually close to major highways (though hopefully not
so close as to be unduly noisy) will be situated conveniently for
those who are "en route" travelers. The more well traveled the route
by RVers, obviously the better the opportunity. Other parks settings
represent places RVers will like to go for recreation. Beaches, lakes,
scenic country settings, and access to major recreation activities
such as golf, hiking, bird watching, or the cultural attractions
offered by major cities. Overnight parks need to be geared for the
short term visitor, with amenities and conveniences geared to cater to
overnight guests. Destination parks are often more "resort oriented",
and the park itself may well contain or be adjacent to the types of
features that RVers seek when looking to enjoy a popular area for
several days to months. As a practical matter, most potential park
locations will have elements of both overnight and destination parks.
But it's crucial to analyze where along the spectrum the location best
"fits", so that park design and marketing efforts can be properly

2. The Target Audience: Once the analysis suggested about location has
been made, it needs to be refined to consider the type of RV guest
that would most likely be attracted to it. Here we encounter
considerations of what type of guest the park is most likely to
attract -- the answer to which will be greatly influenced by park
design. Do you want primarily short term guests, whose need will be
primarily for basic accommodations? Or are you seeking to entice
larger, high end RV owners by offering a design and park amenities
more essential to this segment of the RVer population? Here's where a
careful marketing analysis is critical, because it is essential you
know in advance which "type" of park will have the most appeal to your
"natural RVer audience". The term "natural RVer audience" is meant to
describe the type of RVer most likely to be attracted to an RV park at
that particular location -- and of the design you have decided is
optimal for that location. We could write an entire thesis on this
concept, but for simplicity we simply wanted to identify this
essential factor. By ensuring your park design, and future marketing
efforts, have a focus on your "natural RVer audience", you'll have
identified another of several factors that will influence your
success. Most new to the business of developing an RV park will likely
want some expert help here.

3. RVers versus Residents: While it may seem too simple to require
consideration, this is a crucial factor that requires careful front
end analysis. Some people own RVers to enhance their travel
experience. Others own them because they need a place to live. Of the
latter group, some are full timers. They will typically have sold
their traditional home, and are enjoying "life on the road". These
folks clearly belong in the category of RVers who own their RV to
enhance their travel experience. Others whose only home is their RV
have chosen the RV as a practical and economical residence. Typically
these folks live and work in the local community, the only difference
from others in the community being their particular home has a set of
wheels. Some parks cater to those whose RV is primarily used as a
permanent residence. Other parks focus only on RVers (including full
timers as previously defined) who are using their RVs to enhance their
travel experience. Many parks will have elements of both "residents"
and "travelers" -- but it's a juggling act that needs to be considered
with great care. RV "travelers" enjoy being in the company of others
who are enjoying that type of RV lifestyle, and in some cases will
avoid parks that give the appearance of being mostly permanent
residents. Because most parks are seasonal, it's not uncommon to find
an increase in "residents" during the slower off-season months -- for
the practical reason of keeping some income stream during slow
periods. However many parks will significantly decrease or even
eliminate "residents" during the peak season, both to get the benefit
of the higher daily or weekly rates, but also to ensure the park is
attractive to RV "travelers" in season. To the extent a park caters to
both travelers and residents, we think they are most successful when
strict rules are enforced concerning the appearance of RVs and their
immediate surroundings. Note: for the balance of this article we will
focus only on parks that cater entirely or primarily to "traveling"

Park Design and Layout: Parks built 10 or more years ago often find
that they are simply not designed to accommodate today's much larger
and wider RVs. The notion of slide out rooms -- which sometimes number
as many as 3 or 4 -- was simply not contemplated when designing RV
spaces through the mid-90's. And the bigger, longer, taller rigs now
require wider interior roads, with adequate space for making turns.
Trees are usually a welcome part of the landscape. But if they are not
trimmed so as to easily accommodate the tallest of rigs, they will
cause owners of the increasing percentage of "big rigs" to stay away.
It's simply too expensive to repair the damage -- even if cosmetic --
inadequately trimmed trees can cost. And as the average size of RVs
has increased, so to has been the demand for pull through spaces,
rather than back in spaces. It's a fact of life that not all RVers are
expert at maneuvering their rigs. And they'll invariably select parks
that have a deserved reputation for being "big rig friendly". Even
those with much smaller units appreciate parks that are easy to
navigate and have spaces that can be easily accessed without
"obstacles" -- either natural or man-made. Back in spaces come in two
distinct flavors: Easy and challenging. The trick is to make them
"easy". Here's where the layout needs to provide sufficiently wide
interior roads to permit the considerable road width to back very long
rigs, especially large fifth wheel units, easily into a space. And
it's far easier to back into a well slanted space than it is a space
that is perpendicular to the roadway. Finally park designers will
invariably appreciate that RVers can back into a space if the backing
turn is made towards the driver's side, since the driver does not have
to rely entirely on the mirrors to accomplish the backing maneuver.

Site Size: Here's the ultimate trade off. The same property that can
accommodate perhaps 100 sites that will give a feeling of being quite
close together, may only accommodate 60-75 sites that will feel
"spacious". Without question RVers strongly prefer spaces that provide
adequate room, a feeling of uncrowded spaciousness, and to the extend
possible some landscaping that provides both a defined "property line"
and a degree of at least perceived privacy. Sociological studies have
concluded that RVers will have a very strong sense of "ownership" of
their space. This is perhaps why our own surveys reveal that at the
top of the list of RV park guest dislikes is other people "walking
through their site". This keen sense of an RVer having his or her own
space is also revealed by the frequent insistence that they be
assigned to a particular site within the park. Economically smaller
sites mean more spaces, which should translate to more RVers per night
that can be accommodated, and more revenue. Right? Well, not so fast.
More RVers will pass up parks with sites they deem are too close
together ("packed in like sardines"); and they won't be willing to pay
as much for these smaller sites. Yet in some circumstances a careful
assessment of the "natural target audience" before the park is
designed may help provide some useful indication of where a park
should be in terms of "site size". Surely any park that wants to cater
to the "RV Resort" crowd will need to ensure the sites are comfortably

Which Amenities to Include? Our sense is that as more parks have
offered an more complete set of amenities, RVers have begun to expect
them. Water, sewer, and up to 50 amp power is becoming the minimum
requirement for most big rigs. Cable TV is nice, but an increasing
number of rigs now have satellite access. A telephone is becoming
increasingly important -- not for phone calls, but for modem access.
Typically where a site phone is available, an RVer will expect to pay
a reasonable extra nightly fee for its use. It would seem foolish
today to build a park which did not include a phone line to each site,
even if only a very few would be initially activated. Clearly
tomorrow's requirement will contemplate ways to accommodate high speed
data transfer -- even though it is difficult to forecast with accuracy
what infrastructure needs that may require. Most of the better parks
today offer modem access for laptops in one or more public places
within the park, often an office, clubhouse, or laundry room. Yet with
increasing demand for modem access, and increasing demand for longer
online times, this solution will for many parks in the future be
perceived as "inadequate". A clubhouse is extremely important to
attract group business -- rallies held by various RV clubs and
organization, or sponsored by manufacturers, dealers or others. This
can be a lucrative business for parks, but can only be captured if it
offers an attractive clubhouse facility with accommodations for social
events. (In our view the ability to capture a continuing stream of RV
club rallies will increasingly become a key to financial success.) A
laundry room with sufficient machines to handle the anticipated
traffic has become a normal expectation. And of course the key
facility will be the bathroom and shower facilities. This usually
rates as the "most important" consideration for most RVers. What's
looked for here is not just a clean, modern design, but frequent
quality maintenance to ensure they remain in that condition.

Family Attractions: Here's another example of why its so crucial to
correctly forecast what a park's potential "natural target audience"
will be before proceeding. It may be true that 20 years ago the
profile of RVers equated to "retired". Not so these days, as
increasingly younger families are finding the may pleasures of family
weekend outings, or summer vacations, using the incredible number of
new RV types and options available today. Some parks have found that
families with young children are a prime target audience, and have
included a number of amenities that appeal to children. Yet others
have concluded that if their clientele has too many children present,
their more senior guests may soon be heading for other places that
have cultivated a clientele of more mature years. Indeed, in some of
the most popular snowbird parks in the sun belt states it's not at all
uncommon to find RV resorts that either prohibit children altogether,
or strictly limit when and how long they can be in the park. It seems
logical to conclude that parks attracting primarily young families are
likely to lose business among RVers who do not travel with children;
and parks that cultivate a more senior clientele are less likely to be
attractive to younger families. Therefore when planning the types of
amenities to be included in a new park, it's essential to make
informed judgements. Playgrounds and game rooms full of coin operated
amusement devices will attract children; parks with horse shoe pits,
pool tables, and club houses are more likely to attract other than
young families. This is not to suggest that a careful "mix" is not
possible; but it does point to the need for a very careful front end
analysis of just how that might be accomplished.

Barriers to Development: We suspect many would be RV park builders
under estimate the obstacles to constructing a new park caused by
regulations and permit requirements. While most new businesses pose
some permit issues, RV parks will often have far more issues to deal
with. Environmental concerns have resulted in lengthy and expensive
permit processes, often with public opinion and even political issues
thrown in for added complexity. Part of this is caused by an outdated
-- but for some quite real -- impression of an RV park (or even RV
Resort). Going back 50 years or more, the term was always "trailer
park". And the term "trailer trash" referred primarily to itinerant
persons who primarily for economic reasons lived in a house trailer.
Unfortunately the images of the past still haunt the new, modern RV
industry -- an industry that now caters to an entirely new breed
comprised in significant part of high end buyers, and units that not
infrequently cost more than a lavish home. With those lingering
images, however, it can be difficult to engender community support for
a new RV park, even though the economic impact on the surrounding
community can be extremely positive. With these daunting "barriers to
entry" it's not surprising to hear predictions from the National
Association of RV Park and Campground Owners (ARVC) that in the future
the difficulty of building new parks may well lead to a shortage of RV
park spaces. Older "mom & pop" RV parks will be bought out and
refurbished by new corporate owners. And potentially these new "chain"
parks will offer significant competition to smaller, less
sophisticated individually owned parks. While these are unknown and
not easily foreseeable outcomes, they at least deserve the
knowledgeably consideration of individuals wanting to own an RV park.

Park Management: Probably the single most important aspect of any RV
park is the quality of the management and staff. First and foremost it
must immediately project a friendly, helpful image. The old adage "you
don't get a second chance to make a first impression" applies in
spades here. RV parks are in the hospitality business -- and unless
they both understand that fact and gear their entire operations to it,
they will not be successful. This has implications for hiring,
retention, training, and even pay rates. While a complete discussion
of this is beyond the purpose of this article, we've published an
earlier article that we think outlines the importance of cultivating a
friendly, inviting, and professional image for an RV park. Beyond
issues of projecting an attitude, todays park owner must have a
thoughtful business plan, strong internal accounting and computer
systems, and a carefully planned marketing strategy. Effective use of
the internet as a marketing tool is, we think, increasingly essential.

Summary: We end where we began: We do not consider ourselves expert in
RV park design or management. However our many years of RVing
experience, augmented by the continuing exposure to reader opinion
gained by maintaining these pages, provides us with an appreciation
for what we consider some of the more fundamental considerations for
those contemplating entry into this business. Surely any aspiring RV
park owner would want to take advantage of all existing resources
available. These would include discussions with existing park owners;
membership and active participation in ARVC and/or the local state RV
park owners' association, and even staying tuned into the
conversations that comprise this web site. But an identification and
understanding of the issues germane to RV park development and
management is still not enough. What is truly needed is a careful
application of these considerations to a specific parcel of property
being considered as the site of an RV park, and an evaluation of all
relevant considerations applicable to that specific location. This
latter undertaking may well benefit from an objective professional
evaluation of a qualified expert, and prove a valuable preliminary

Clarification of Answer by kutsavi-ga on 07 Dec 2002 07:29 PST
Hello again Ann100a, 

We are supposed to put search terms used in with our answers, and it
completely slipped my mind to do so before I posted my answer.  In
Google or any search engine, you might want try the following terms
yourself to see what comes up:

“rv park” design

designing “rv park”

recreational vehicle park design

design architecture “rv parks”

building “rv parks”

“rv parks” engineering architecture

owning “rv park”

Clarification of Answer by kutsavi-ga on 07 Dec 2002 07:58 PST
Hi, it's me again...sorry to keep coming back, but while doing
another, unrelated search, I came across some very interesting
information on a class in campground design offered by Northern
Arizona University.  Here is the URL and some information:

Course Description: Planning, design, and operation of recreation
facilities and adjoining areas. On-site visits supplement course
principles (3 credit hours). Prerequisite: PRM 220
Course Facilitator:
Charles Hammersley, Ph.D.

It says that there is a course prerequisite, but professors will often
let you simply "audit" a course, in other words merely sit in on the
course.  If you are interested, you should contact Professor
Hammersley and the address above.

There are no comments at this time.

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