Throughout the country, RV parks have been correctly labeled as essential businesses, allowing full-time RV'ers to continue their lifestyle. However, different from other essential businesses, such as fast food restaurants and laundromats, RV resorts have maintained their pricing while reducing access to and the cost of maintaining their amenities.
Premium amenities is one reason some parks justify their prices. There can be heated swimming pools and hot tubs, spacious recreation halls with cable TV, libraries, exercise machines, dance floors, billiard and card rooms, exercise classes and much more. It doesn't take an MBA to realize that by eliminating or reducing these amenities without changing the price structure that supports them is a windfall.
Many full-timers are simply happy to have campgrounds to stay in, but as Thousand Trails members, we sometimes pay additional premiums strictly based upon the popularity and amenities of a property. For example, we recently stayed in an Encore property in Tucson, a resort included in our Thousand Trails membership. This resort adds a $20/day premium predicated on its high volume of reservations and the quality amenities included. When we arrived, however, its RV sites were less than half used and the amenities were mostly closed.
We had a similar experience in a private park in Williams, Arizona, at the beginning of the pandemic's first lockdown. Again, the rate was high, typical for a tourist park just outside of the Grand Canyon, but all national parks were closed, as were all resort amenities. In fact, the road TO the Grand Canyon was blocked about 30 miles away from its entrance.
Probably the worst thing about it is the number of paid staff and volunteers who have been let go or furloughed in the reduction of services, providing more savings to park owners and corporations.
As full-time RV'ers with limited ability to make an income, which is why we purchased the Thousand Trails membership in the first place, charging us the full rate or premium without any of the benefits they should cover is unfair at best and price gouging at worst.
Jack Huber is a novelist with 7 mysteries published, along with several books of poetry and photography. Now retired, he and his wife, Nadyne, are free to travel the country in their 32' 5th wheel and 1-ton Ford pickup.