After getting a great deal on 56 acres of woodland property right on U.S. 17-92 in Polk County, Joe and Christina Ganley are banking on the growing demand for ecotourism to open Campfire Resort.
The resort is planned to include up to 200 fully amenitized RV lots, cabins, tree houses, "glamping" tents and primitive camp sites, along with luxury bathhouses, a resort pool and clubhouse. The first phase, which includes the utility infrastructure and first 61 lots, is approved for construction.
"We could do five lots per acre, but we're going for a lower density," Joe Ganley told GrowthSpotter on Thursday. "We want to keep the natural landscape in place and have larger sites with more privacy. We have a lot of hiking trails and lakes on the property."
He said the target customers are theme park visitors who are looking for a Fort Wilderness-style experience at a more affordable price. Rates at Campfire Resort would range from $59 per night for an RV site to $200 per night for a cabin.
The tents would be fully furnished and climate controlled, comparable to the facilities at Westgate River Ranch, he said.
The bathhouses would be designed with rustic exteriors and hotel-quality finishes inside. Each unit would have laundry facilities, men's and women's communal restrooms and a half-dozen private family restrooms.
"It will feel more like a hotel with granite counters," Ganley said. "When families go camping, they don't want to send their kid into a building to shower next to strangers."
The Ganleys and their other investors bought the land in 2015 for just $235,000.
"The previous owner had paid $3.5 million for it back in 2006," he said. "I think they were planning to do single-family homes, but then the market crashed."
The site is about a half-mile south of the Providence golf community and abuts an existing RV park that caters to snowbirds. Ganley, managing director of Orange Real Estate Capital, said the investment for Phase 1 is about $2.5 million.
"Right now we're getting contractors in place and finalizing our financing," he said. "We have a utility agreement with Polk County, and we're extending water and sewer lines to the property. The closest utilities are about a half-mile away."
That extension is expected to cost about $600,000, but Polk County will reimburse the resort $475,000 per the agreement. Duke Energy will provide electrical service for the development.