Criteria for Campground and Amenity
[Adapted from postings from our friends John & Sally on rv.net]
There aren’t many. When we travel, we do so with specific destinations in mind. Where we stop along the way can vary drastically in the level of amenities and services offered. Like the difference between spending the night in a Super 8 or Motel 6… or a “W” Hotel. If we’re not yet where we want to be, so what? It’s only for a night… two at the most. Having a rather high pain threshhold, I can pretty much stand anything for that long. That said, there are some definite no-nos and yes-yesses upon which we base our more positive reviews and, therefore, for which we have preference. OK, which I prefer, since Sally is the one who usually determines our final destination and I map out how to get there and where to stay along the way. I’m also usually the one driving at the end of our travel day, ergo, the one to go into the office and get us checked in. Where we are on a trip – be it at the beginning, middle, end or on our way home – also plays a role in how good/unacceptable we might find a particular campground or resort.
Here’s what we look for in every campground:
Customer Service – Personal service at Check-in is important. I know it’s probably getting to the end of your day when I roll in at 3 or 4 PM and I understand that you’ve likely had a long one of dealing with gadabouts like me. If all goes well at your check-in desk, it WILL be the end of MY day. I’ll even venture that you didn’t have to drive your 45-foot desk and computer for seven hours and through Phoenix rush hour traffic to get to work today, did you? And you won’t have to do that tomorrow, either. When I park my rig in front of your office, I try to decompress a bit for a minute or two before presenting my road-weary face to you. However, if I don’t answer your questions instantaneously or I’m not Johnny-On-The-Spot with my credit card, it will happen. Maybe not as quickly as you’d like, but it’ll happen! Just asking for a little compassion, please?
Wide Access Roads/Pull-throughs – With our 45-foot coach tow-dollying a Town & Country minivan, the longer we have been on the road for a day, the wider the access roads should be and the more we would really prefer a pull-through site; especially if we’re staying but for one night. No, we don’t need – nor expect – a runway-sized entrance gate. Granted, there are times when Sally and I, as a testament to our teamwork, could back the rig in between the end tables in your living room and still not knock over the lamps. Other times, not so much. Also, if it’s the end of a long driving day and we’re not yet where we want to make an extended stay, we usually just want to park, hook up (usually just water and electric for one night), eat dinner and go to bed without unhooking the toad. Which prompts my next criteria:
As Near-To-Level-As-Possible Sites – I realize that many establishments have some logistical problems getting a campsite level, particularly in more moutainous regions of the country. Today’s larger coaches can demand some serious real estate in getting a site level. I get that. That isn’t the problem. When my leveling jacks lift the tires off the ground, THEN it’s a problem. Nevertheless: You know your campground… Don’t be afraid to tell me that the lovely, private, wooded waterfront site that I think I want is smaller and shorter and that I probably won’t be able to get level… Or put out the slides. Tell me this; I can take it. I might also accept the larger, longer site with the less appealing view for the same reason.
All Hook-ups on a Pedestal… On the “Road Side”! – Most newer campgrounds are making this one happen, and Bravo to them for it! At the very least, putting electrical, water & sewer connections in a consistent place on each site throughout the campground makes us full- and nearly-full-timers sit up and take notice. Taking notice also means we are more likely to return. Which brings us to:
A Minimum of 30, Preferably 50-Amp Electrical Service – Especially in the Summer… Out west… In the desert… Or in Florida!… Or anywhere South of the Mason-Dixon Line in July and August! We have three roof ACs and need to run at least two of them when the temp is pushing 100° just so we, the dogs and the cat can merely survive. Cold beer only goes so far!
Water pressure – Not so much for the sinks but for shower… Yours AND ours. If your campground doesn’t have a hot tub, this is our next best choice.
Hot Tub – Not a deal-breaker if you don’t have one. I’ll just take a hotter, longer shower to melt away the kinks from a long day of driving. If I’m deciding between two campgrounds in the same town along my journey, the one with the hot tub gets my reservation. It also best be clean and operational or its non-functional state will end up online!
Clean and Functioning Bathrooms — Yes, we have a “bath-and-a-half” in our rig. We can pee ‘n’ poop twice as much as we can take a shower. But we’re also older and kinda-sorta fat people. We do use our rig’s shower if nothing else is available. However, if campground showers are there which would allow us to spread out a bit more than the rig allows, we may prefer to use them. Size isn’t even an issue; their being clean, private (WITH locks on the outside doors!) and the hot water readily flowing, is.
WiFi Service – Very rarely is this a issue for us staying/not staying at a campground. Yes, I know… Bandwidth costs YOU money. Uh… It costs ALL of us money and ISPs/Cell Providers certainly aren’t doing anything to hold down what they charge, either! BUT: If you are going to market your campground with cries of “Free WiFi For Our Guests!” splashed all over the interwebs, then I strongly suggest you deliver on it. None of this lame, pokey, unstable one-router-for-forty-campsites BS, either! Yes, I will still patronize a campground if they don’t have WiFi, but with that in mind, I’ll know in advance what to expect and have alternatives (AT&T iPhone and a Verizon Hotspot) available. There are days/evenings when I don’t even want or need to get online. There are also times, especially on an extended trip, that I might need to get online and do stuff… So that the credit card I just handed you will pay you since I have to pay them.
Keep Your Website Up-to-Date – You no longer honor Good Sam, FMCA, AAA or PassportAmerica? Why are the logos still on your website? You changed your 40 pull-through sites to 80 back-ins? Then why are the 40 pull-throughs still listed on your website? Many web hosts include annual or semi-annual updates to your site in their cost. Your website is often the tipping point as to whether I pick up the phone and make a reservation (By The Way: I only phone in reservations and rarely, if ever, do so online) or not. I have been known to print out a website, or a specific portion/page of it, and have placed it under the nose of the nice lady/gentleman at the front desk after they’ve said, “No, we don’t do/have that,” I simply show them the page and reply, “Your website says you do.” About half the time, they honor what the website says. The other half of the time, I don’t go back.
It’s the “Little Things” That Count! – Is it your policy to escort a guest to their site? If someone should request a particular site when making a reservation do you do everything possible to make sure that site is available when they arrive? Do you have once-a-week, or more, siteside garbage collection? Do you accept mail and/or sign for UPS/FedEx packages for your guests? Is all of this included in the price of my site? It’s stuff like this that can add a few stars to your RVParkReviews.com rating and keep me and many future customers rolling down your driveway!
“Dog Friendly” Should Also Mean “Friendly Dog”! – This one is not directed toward campground owners, rather, it is directed toward my fellow campers. It’s also probably where I’m going to veer pretty far afield of many an RVer: I take my critters on the road… But I don’t want someone else’s animals going ballistic outside my rig everytime a leaf falls to the ground. Leave your pets at home, have them boarded, or have them obedience-trained.
No Sales Pitches!!! – This is, obviously, directed at the myriad of “Owner Resorts” that keep popping up all over the place. One of the reasons we have a motorhome is so that we will have a “HOME” to wherever we decide to “MOTOR”!! It’s that simple! We have no interest in buying a site that we might use once or twice a YEAR!