SOUTH HAVEN, Mich. — The Jellystone Park in South Haven has won the Camp-Resort of the Year Award for the Central Region.
Parks owners Susan and Kyle Novotny received the award from Leisure Systems Inc. (LSI), the Milford, Ohio-based company that franchises 80 Jellystone Parks across the U.S. and Canada.
The award is LSI’s highest award at the regional level. It is given to Camp-Resorts whose facilities and operations exceed all Jellystone Park standards. Recipients must be Pinnacle Club members, meaning they rate 95 percent or higher on the annual LSI assessment of their facilities and operations. Award recipients also must have achieved strong growth in business, implemented sustained improvements and be leaders in the industry.
“We try really hard,” Susan Novotny said. “It’s constant hard work.”
The Novotnys built their campground from the ground up, starting with 26 campsites and five cabins.
But even from the beginning, when their park was known as South Haven Family Campground, the Novotnys aimed for quality and won all around A ratings in consumer surveys by GuestRated.com the first five years they were in business.
“We always wanted to be a Jellystone,” Novotny said. “But we had to be of a certain size, have a swimming pool and other amenities to meet their requirements.”
But by 2014 the Novotnys had expanded to the point where they could join the Jellystone Park franchise network, and they’ve continued to expand and improve their park ever since. They currently have 95 campsites as well as 35 cabins and cottages, including seven cottages that can each sleep 12.
“We find that a lot of times families like to get together and share a cottage,” Novotny said. “For next year, we’re hoping to add about 20 more RV sites as well as paintball. This year we added laser tag.”
The Novotnys’ continual investments have been good for business.
This year, their occupancies and revenue were up “15 to 20 percent,” Novotny said, adding that their park is seeing significant increases in business during the fall shoulder season.
“We are seeing more people camping in the fall,” Novotny said. “We were full just about every weekend.”
Much of the Novotnys’ fall business is due to the growing popularity of their Halloween themed weekends, which include campsite decorating and costume contests and trick or treating.
“We added another Halloween themed weekend for a total of six this fall,” Novotny said.
Jellystone Parks are famous for providing fun, family activities and themed weekends that include everything from crafts and games to wagon rides. Birthday parties with the bears and daily appearances by Yogi Bear are also very popular.
Themed weekend activities at South Haven are scheduled from April through October, including Easter egg hunts with Yogi Bear, special activities for Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, Mardi Gras themed weekends with parades, cookouts and dances; pirate themed weekends; and Christmas in July themed weekends with campsite decorating and holiday themed crafts.
For more information, please visit www.southhavenjellystone.com.
SOURCE: Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park Camp-Resorts press release