October 16, 2009 by Leanne Phillips
Although the RV industry in general may not be aware of it, Cal-Am Resorts boasts the largest network of RV parks in the state of Arizona with seven high-end resorts.
“We consider ourselves 5-star and provide every amenity,” said Marc Franklin, Cal-Am chief operating officer. “We offer every type of club and sport, as well as personal health services like massage, hair, nails and spa. Every year we put in major projects to keep up with personal tastes.”
Among Cal-Am parks are:
* Sunflower in Surprise.
* Canyon Vistas in Gold Canyon.
* Val Vista Village, Mesa Regal, Sunlife, Apache Wells and Valle del Oro, all in Mesa.
Mesa Regal, with 2,005 sites, is the largest RV park in the state.
This year Cal-Am is in the process of adding eight pickle ball courts, six bocce ball courts, and a tennis court, as well as re-surfacing eight of its existing tennis courts with a new synthetic professional material. Two new spas, one at Val Vista Village and one at Valle del Oro, are also in the works. “We are finding more and more residents are wanting hair, nails, and massage and they want it on site,” Franklin said.
“We have our own catering and restaurants and we have top entertainment – we like to call it ‘Branson without leaving your rig,’” he added.
In addition to regular entertainment, Cal-Am offers a concert series. This season’s lineup includes Vicki Lawrence; BJ Thomas and Gary Puckett; Legends of Surf Music featuring the Beach Boys and Dean of Jan and Dean; the Oakridge Boys; and Shania Twin.
“We’ve also used our size to really be able to wow our guests with how we decorate our ballrooms when we have parties,” Franklin said. “Because of our size we can have five times the decorations. We rotate themes at the resorts so it doesn’t get stale over the years. Our residents can have an exciting party atmosphere when they come to the event. We view that as a fun, competitive advantage.”
The Arizona season is typically strong from Thanksgiving to Easter, but with colder weather often arriving sooner, Cal-Am has created a fall season. From Oct. 1-Jan. 5 residents can take advantage of a bargain price of $795 for the entire period. “We throw in five parties at the properties during that time period – Oktoberfest, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s,” Franklin said. “I don’t think there is a price out there that can touch it.”
Cal-Am adds pull-through sites each year at its parks – 100-foot pull-throughs have been added this year at Val Vista Village. “The demand was there, the minute we cut the ribbon they were full,” Franklin said.
Keeping up with technology is something Franklin believes all RV parks find challenging. “Everyone seems to be grappling with Wi-Fi,” he said. “There is a strong demand for computer resources. We are working to create Wi-Fi hotspots around common areas, pools, and public buildings, and we have ever-growing computer clubs. We have rooms at our resorts with 40 computers. Satisfying the technology desires of our clients is a challenge.”
With more than 700 employees, Cal-Am continues to grow and is always looking to expand. “Our market is the retired or soon-to-be-retired active adults, generally 55-plus in age, who are either RVers now, and might be purchasers of a resort home in the future,” he added. “We reach our market through print ads, radio, trade show booths, and most important—word of mouth from our satisfied customers.”
Cal-Am does not offer cabins or tents, but does have a number of park models in its RV resorts, as well as its own internal sales division. Cal-Am’s membership discount programs are Good Sam, Passport America, Camp Club USA, Happy Campers, and Coast to Coast/Good Neighbor
“We are growing and we are keeping fresh and we are attracting the modern RVer and keeping our existing RV clients happy at the same time,” Franklin added.