GOG Campgrounds to become ‘outdoor resort’

RVC Outdoor Destinations will spruce up Garden of the Gods Campgrounds with high-quality lodging units like this yurt.

A Tennessee-based outdoor company has big plans to spruce up the aging Garden of the Gods Campgrounds and turn it into a high-quality outdoor resort.

RVC Outdoor Destinations bought the campgrounds this week and will immediately spend $200,000 on renovation, including improving tent sites, resurfacing pools, painting structures and improving existing RV site, said Andy Cates, RVC president.

The property, which has been bank-owned for the past 18 months, had lost some of its luster, he said. Beyond the immediate facelift, the company intends to renovate the existing cabins, build additional cabins and add more RV sites.

“We are fans of Colorado Springs and Manitou Springs,” Cates said. “We knew we wanted to get out to your neck of the woods.”

Cates would not disclose the sale price.

RVC is five years old and specializes in outdoor resort properties. The company owns properties in Georgia, Arkansas, North Carolina and Florida. Last year, RVC opened its sixth site in Hot Springs, Ark.

Cates said he has been studying Colorado’s tourism market and wanted to expand the business west.

Garden of the Gods Campgrounds — which has 175 sites and an indoor/outdoor pavilion – is near the entrance to the Garden of the Gods Park visitor’s center and has an existing data base of 12,000 active guests.

In recent months, the property was owned by Farmers Insurance Group Federal Credit Union; it was taken over by them when the previous owners went bankrupt.

“It has not had the focus, attention and capital it needs to be what it can be,” Cates said.

Cates said RVC’s company strategy is to build an outdoor resort industry like the hotel industry, where they are differentiated by amenities.

Eventually, RVC will rebrand the Garden of the Gods Campground as the Garden of the Gods RV Resort and offer some of the same upscale amenities as its other properties, including concierge service, dog parks, modern swimming pools, beer and wine bars and free Wi-Fi and cable.

Memorial Day weekend marks the beginning of the busy season for RVC, Cates said. The company will try to get the initial refurbishing done at Garden of the Gods Campgrounds in the next month without interrupting visitors.

Cates said he cannot predict the number of visitors this summer, but said the campgrounds are a proxy for Colorado Springs tourism. This season may be impacted by fuel prices, he said, but the company has had a strong first-quarter and showing signs of a solid Memorial Day weekend.

“We are optimistic about Colorado Springs,” he said. “You have a huge drive market. We think (people) will travel and stay longer – they will look for a better proposition.”