Wednesday, February 21, 2018
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20171019 AlamoPalms mgr RockyRamirez n Ida 3756Local resorts report increased reservations again this year

Alamo Palms Mobile Park Manager Rocky Ramirez and resident Ila Wisdom, a Fort Worth native, stand on her front porch next to a bottle tree. Wisdom is planning an early returning Winter Texan get together on Friday in her yard at the park. Ramirez, like many managers across the Rio Grande Valley, is expecting an increase in reservations for the 2017-18 season.

Don Wilson remembers when he and his wife Jeni were making their first stint as park managers a few years ago at Bentsen Palm Village RV Resort in Mission. They oversaw the park, which has approximately 245 RV spaces.

“The park would be full and there would be a waiting list of as many as 30 people wanting to get in,” Wilson said. “That's a good problem to have.”

The Wilsons, who moved to the Valley from Las Vegas, then took a few years off to travel in 2011 and came back in June 2015. They noticed something had happened. A strange quiet, comparatively speaking, had engulfed the resort. The park had fewer Winter Texan visitors than before.

“Don't know what happened during that two- or three-year period,” Wilson said. “People were saying all sorts of things...people just weren't here. But it wasn't just here, it was all over. Everything was dormant. I asked the owner what he thought – we just didn't know.”

Then things picked up last season Valleywide and, according to park managers who were recently interviewed, there is even more of an upswing this year than the Valley has seen in a quite some time. Park managers are clearly excited.

“I think we are going to be above the market average when it comes to residency this year,” said Rocky Ramirez, park manager at Alamo Palms Mobile Park in Alamo. “I think the increase in part is due to keeping our product up to date and fresh. We're always adding things and listening to what our residents enjoy. The market has been relatively flat the past two years and I think we're having a good swing upwards to the market.”

Many resorts and RV parks are saying the same thing. Dora Alvarado, one of three park managers for Bit-O-Heaven RV and Mobile Home Park said that there is a definite increase in reservations already.

Wilson at Bentsen Palm Village said the park is 100-percent booked for January and February while also being about 75 percent booked in December. Last year, he said, the park was booked overall at about 80 percent. He's already expecting to see an increase to that number this year.

“This year is going to be better than last year and we are happy with that and the owners are also happy,” Wilson said. “When we were here before, we would be full from December through March and we would have a waiting list. We want to get back to that – the way we are going, next season we might be close. We're liking it right now.”

Ramirez started as the park manager in August for Alamo Palms. The 39-year-old McAllen native has spent 20 years in the hospitality business, mainly with hotels. He said that this upswing in residents means it's a time to shine and to turn first-time visitors into annual guests.

“This is a time to shine. We are going to get some new people and we get a chance to wow them,” Ramirez said. “It's all about the service and, at this park in particular, we have a bevy of activities and amentities – and I'm here to serve our residents. That's what I really enjoy.”

Park managers across the Valley agreed that there's a younger generation of Winter Texans on the market and some of those may be displaced this year from Florida, where most of the state is still recovering from hurricane and tropical storm damage. Managers said they are also noticing an uptick of French-Canadians.

“Residents would pay top dollar in the Florida market and they are going to see that they will be paying half the price with the same type of amenities and getting the same or better service down here,” Ramirez said. “Here we've created an environment of family and friendship. The ones who come down year after year come down to see their [Winter Texan] friends again and hang out with them.”

There are a lot of things for Winter Texans to do in the Valley at a variety of public venues. Plus, we work hard to create more amenities in our resorts that our residents are interested in, he said. “That's what we do, serve our residents. It's all about that.”

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