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Camping in British Columbia Embraces Luxury and Amenities

In the face of rising land costs and operational expenses, private campground operators in British Columbia are redefining the camping experience. They are investing in site upgrades and luxury amenities, focusing on cash flow. 

The timing aligns with a societal shift towards outdoor living, spurred by high housing costs and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Glamping, a blend of glamour and camping, has gained significant traction. Originating in yurts, tipis, and treehouses designed for social media appeal, it has exploded during the pandemic. 

Joe Bleackley, founder and CEO of Pathfinder Ventures Inc., which operates 366 sites in Parksville, Fort Langley, and Agassiz, notes that a good product can generate a two-year waiting list and command prices of CA$350 to CA$400 a night.

Pathfinder is considering adding glamping options, but its primary focus is amenity-rich RV sites. These sites cater to the modern camper’s desire for the comforts of home while enjoying the outdoors, as reported by Tri-City News.

The camping experience people seek today is vastly different from 20 years ago. High-speed internet and clean washrooms top the wishlists of campers, and they bring plenty of gadgets with them.

The amenities come at a premium compared to traditional tenting sites, which simply don’t make financial sense given the land values in RV-favored locations. While a tenting site might be a quarter acre, Pathfinder targets 10 RV pads per acre, each generating CA$10,000 revenue a year.

RV sharing through Airbnb and other short-term rental sites gained ground alongside glamping during the pandemic. As cities become denser and more vertical, it makes sense for urban dwellers to camp in cabins or glamping-type units. The more sophisticated the offering, the greater the revenue.

The BC Lodging and Campgrounds Association‘s annual occupancy and rate survey reports that full-service sites are on track for a 6.4% increase this year to an average of CA$63.80. 

Occupancy was also strong last year, surpassing 2021 levels through September. Bookings through the end of December point to a strong start for 2023 despite economic headwinds and staffing challenges.

International travelers typically rent RVs for 19 nights and stay at 14 locations throughout the trip. This spreads money around the province throughout the season in a way that domestic users typically don’t do. RVing allows people to stay in areas where money is needed, contributing to the local economy.

The steady cash flow, supported by fresh investment in amenities, makes RV sites a better use of the land than tenting sites. The cap rate on Pathfinder’s Parksville location would likely be 6% in the event of sale, indicating the value of these properties.

The camping industry in British Columbia is undergoing a significant transformation. The shift towards luxury amenities and the focus on RV sites over traditional tenting sites is a response to changing consumer preferences and economic realities. This evolution is not only enhancing the camping experience but also contributing to the local economy.

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Paige Dawn
Paige Dawn
April 3, 2024 4:03 pm

You know what? Luxury camping in British Columbia is really stepping up its game. Pathfinder Ventures makes me feel like I’m living the high life while still being one with nature.

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Hi, you might find this article from Modern Campground interesting: Camping in British Columbia Embraces Luxury and Amenities! This is the link: https://moderncampground.com/canada/british-columbia/camping-in-british-columbia-embraces-luxury-and-amenities/