It was at the recent 2022 KOA Convention & Expo in Orlando where Milton/Gulf Pines KOA Holiday was recognized as one of the campgrounds deserving of the Founder’s Award and President’s Award. The principles and standards that led to the win, however, have been practiced by the team for a long time.
In a conversation with Modern Campground, the Milton/Gulf Pines KOA team emphasized two things that led to the success: collaborative effort and pursuit of excellence.
While Kampgrounds of America (KOA) established strict standards to select this year’s winning parks, Milton/Gulf Pines KOA always strives to meet the expectations of both campers and team members.
“People come back over and over, not only [because of] being a KOA park, but the fact that they know what they’re going to get at Gulf Pines,” Park Manager Dede Rhyne said.
Visitors to the park can find solace in booking any of its spacious RV sites, tent sites, or cabins. The park features different types of RV sites such as its executive concrete sites with tables, chairs, and gas grills. The KOA’s spacious cabins, meanwhile, are kept well-maintained by the campground’s friendly staff.
A destination in itself, recreation opportunities at Milton/Gulf Pines KOA include access to nature trails and on-site amenities for the family to try such as a heated swimming pool as well as an 18-hole mini golf course, putt-putt, cornhole, and a clubhouse.
Young campers are never bored with a playground, arcade, and a newly added swing set to enjoy; and property management group IVEE Group helps the team ensure that experiences are always enhanced for all.
For Dede’s husband and co-manager Rodger, seeing campers enjoy amenities “brings me joy to see them use it and to know that we did the right thing. And we’re constantly improving on the playground,” he said.
In the future, the KOA campground will also see an improved community firepit and a bigger Kamp K-9 area for the furry campers. The operators are also considering a new sand volleyball area.
Despite being an old park, Dede said the KOA campground has always been maintained and improved.
“This is a very old park, but it has been maintained, and they’ve always put the money into this park to keep it where it needs to be. And so we followed all KOA’s [standards] and exceeded what they expected from the park,” she shared.
When asked for the secret to success beyond just the amenities, Dede, Rodger, and IVEE Group Director of Operations Scott Knepp all echoed the same answer: the credit goes to the team.
“[O]ne of the things that makes them such great operators is that they listen and they care and they ask questions—and that’s everything from their guests, working with the reviews, to their team, [and] their leaders that regularly meet with their team and inquire and hear about their experiences,” Knepp shared, adding that the couple works hard to develop a culture at the KOA park.
Throughout every camping season, Milton/Gulf Pines KOA sees satisfied campers, but also happy “work kampers”. The workcampers each have a gulf cart that is customized to fit their personality, decorated by Dede and Roger “in a fashion that makes it fun and celebratory and speaks to their personality and their individuality,” Knepp told Modern Campground.
“…so they take a lot of pride in their work campers,” he added.
Standards set by the IVEE Group are another factor to the win, per Dede. What can be considered a stepping stone to excellence were the years of mentorship the park manager had under the wings of Regional Manager Carrie Brown. During her years of training at another campground managed by the group, Dede learned to focus on one thing when it comes to hospitality: it’s all about the camper.
“That is the most important thing. They are our guests, but they’re also our primary focus—it’s them—and giving them an experience that they paid for and having them leave satisfied,” she said.
Sharing the company’s mission, Dede said they strive to “serve people, create memories, deliver exceptional experiences, improve value by enhancing their experiences.”
“And I think that says all in our mission and making a positive difference in these lives, but not only the people that come to our camp, but it’s also the communities that we are part of and our work campers,” Dede said.
Conveniently located on Gulf Pines Drive Milton, Florida, Milton/Gulf Pines KOA Holiday is a family destination that offers RV sites, tent sites, cabins, and amenities for families.
Visit https://gulfpinesrv.com/ to learn more about the KOA campground.
Featured image courtesy of Milton/Gulf Pines KOA Holiday.