FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. — J&H RV Park has won the Park of the Year Award in the small park category from the Arizona Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds. It was the third time the 85-site park has won the award in its 35-year history.
“My husband, Harvey, and I were very pleased to win this award again,” said Jo Ann Mickelson, who also serves as executive director of the association.
The award winners are selected by an independent panel of judges who look for parks that deliver extraordinary guest experiences as a result of all-around excellence in operations, professionalism, marketing, customer service and industry involvement.
While Jo Ann Mickelson has had a leadership role with the Arizona ARVC since 1995, including two terms as president and a six-year-term on the board of the National Association of RV Parks and Campground, she and her husband have also continually worked to make improvements to their park.
Last year, for example, they updated the electrical utility connections to accommodate today’s largest RVs. They also replaced several aging walkways and made their restrooms ADA complaint.
Four years ago, J & H RV Park also become one of the first RV parks in the nation to ban smoking. They did this after one of their campers had to be rushed to the hospital because of health problems caused by second-hand smoke.
But, while the Mickelsons braced themselves for a negative reaction from the RVing public when they imposed the smoking ban, the response has been just the opposite.”
People love our smoking ban,” Jo Ann Mickelson said. “They come stay with us specifically because we do not allow smoking.”
No smoking is allowed inside or outside RVs at J & H RV Park. The rule applies to any kind of tobacco product as well as e-cigarettes. The sole exception is a small patio area where smokers are allowed to have a puff, if they must. But it’s far enough away from the other RVs so as not to be nuisance for non-smokers.
“We don’t try to treat smokers as second class citizens,” Harvey Mickelson said. “But we want them to respect the rights of others who don’t smoke. One of our guests went to the hospital in 2012 because of second hand smoke and we don’t want that to happen again.”
Always interested in his guests’ safety, Harvey Mickelson also offers to park their rigs if they think they could use the assistance. But he has a sense of humor about it, too. A sign on the door of J & H RV Park describes the service as follows: “Marriage Saving Valet RV Parking Available: Inquire Within.”
As the Mickelsons and other campground and RV operators know all too well, most Americans have difficulty parking their RVs, especially if they have to back their units into a campsite.
And when you combine the size of their vehicles with their lack of parking skills, especially when backing up, frayed nerves and a shouting match between husband and wife is the likely result, not to mention a few damaged utility pedestals, fences, trash cans, water faucets, tree branches and other things that might be in way.
“When we tell our guests that they will have to back into their campsites,” Harvey Mickelson said, “some look at each other like, ‘Are we going to have a fight?’”
Mickelson, who worked as a truck driver before going into the campground business, soon found it was easier to simply offer to park their RVs or help guide them.
But he finds a lot of humor in the difficulty spouses have when it comes to communicating with one another how about how to park their RV.
“I tell people I’ve been thinking about teaching classes — One on how on how to give directions and another on how to receive directions,” he said.
Joking aside, Mickelson has seen enough RV parking incidents in his park to know he can minimize damage by parking the rigs himself.
“Over the years, we’ve had to change from chain link fences to wood fences to masonry,” he said, adding, “Masonry doesn’t move when you back into it.”
The Mickelsons have also had to reconfigure their campsites as RVs have gotten bigger. When they opened their park in 1982, they had 85 campsites. But as RV manufacturers started to produce larger and larger RVs, they found they had to remove more and more campsites to create longer and wide campsites. “We’re down to 52 sites,” Jo Ann Mickelson said.
But because they have kept up with consumer demands, the Mickelsons are keeping busy. Jo Ann said this could be their busiest season yet.
More information on J & H RV Park is available at www.flagstaffrvparks.com.
SOURCE: Arizona Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds press release
For information on other campgrounds in Arizona, visit GoCampingInArizona.com.