Thousand Trails

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Considering various camping memberships, Passport, Escapees, Thousand Trails. Does anyone have a Thousand Trails membership? If so, what is your experience? The basic camping membership can pay for itself with one trip to the Keys in my case or Orlando for a week, etc. What is your experience with check in, site selection, extra fees?
 
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WA, MT or somewhere else!
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We had a nationwide Thousand Trails membership for about 20 years, but dropped it 3-4 years ago because of the deteriorating conditions at their "preserves." Since the "venture capital" folks bought the company, maintenance has gone steadily downhill. There are fewer employees as well, so many services are negatively impacted.

Coupled with that, TT is now leasing out the prime sites in their parks on an annual basis, so many of the best sites are unavailable, even when they are not being used. They are all chained off and have "private site" signs posted.

We liked TT in the early years of our membership, but found that things really went south, starting 8-10 years ago.

If you decide to try TT, better go in with your eyes wide open and your expectations set pretty low.

TJ
 
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Thank you.
 
Joined
Nov 3, 2019
Messages
457
Location
Florida
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TOW/TOAD
Demco KarKaddy 460SS and VW Passat
Fulltimer
No
Interesting Thousand Trails went through a BK in 1991, a couple of High Leverage buyouts, one of my previous employers KKR then on to a Texas firm and is now owned by Equity LifeStyle Properties a REIT.

"Equity LifeStyle Properties is a real estate investment trust (REIT) traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol "ELS." Our size, national scope and status as a publicly traded company afford us benefits unavailable to smaller, private owners. We have access to capital that allows us to grow, and to expand and upgrade existing communities. We are able to streamline our management operations, owning multiple communities in the same market areas. Our broad presence in 32 states and British Columbia protects the company from economic downturns in any one market. Furthermore, our reputation allows us to attract and retain some of the best employees in the business. "

They own both Thousand Trails and Encore as well as other parks and MH communities.

"There’s always something new to see, or do, or learn at our more than 185 RV resorts and campgrounds across the country. And the social nature of our events and activities provides an ideal foundation for building long-lasting friendships among guests. Whether they bring the RV, pitch a tent or rent one of our many cottages or cabins, guests can count on our dedicated on-site management teams go the extra mile to ensure they feel right at home.

Our RV resorts and campgrounds operate under two well respected brands: Thousand Trails and Encore RV Resorts."
 
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Location
WA, MT or somewhere else!
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40'
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Interesting Thousand Trails went through a BK in 1991, a couple of High Leverage buyouts, one of my previous employers KKR then on to a Texas firm and is now owned by Equity LifeStyle Properties a REIT.

"Equity LifeStyle Properties is a real estate investment trust (REIT) traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol "ELS." Our size, national scope and status as a publicly traded company afford us benefits unavailable to smaller, private owners. We have access to capital that allows us to grow, and to expand and upgrade existing communities. We are able to streamline our management operations, owning multiple communities in the same market areas. Our broad presence in 32 states and British Columbia protects the company from economic downturns in any one market. Furthermore, our reputation allows us to attract and retain some of the best employees in the business. "

They own both Thousand Trails and Encore as well as other parks and MH communities.

"There’s always something new to see, or do, or learn at our more than 185 RV resorts and campgrounds across the country. And the social nature of our events and activities provides an ideal foundation for building long-lasting friendships among guests. Whether they bring the RV, pitch a tent or rent one of our many cottages or cabins, guests can count on our dedicated on-site management teams go the extra mile to ensure they feel right at home.

Our RV resorts and campgrounds operate under two well respected brands: Thousand Trails and Encore RV Resorts."
Leave it to the marketing folks to paint a rosy picture! My previous comments were based on numerous, personal, on-site experienceS. We would have loved to remain members if things were like they were 20 years ago. They are not!

TJ
 
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Not disputing your experience, just thought that this was interesting information. This was the last thing I expect in a REIT portfolio.
 
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Not disputing your experience, just thought that this was interesting information. This was the last thing I expect in a REIT portfolio.
Wasn't challenging your comments, @JoeHogan; just remarking on how marketing folks (of which I was one many years ago) can paint rosy pictures. And, as you say, this is an unusual portfolio item for a REIT since TT owns very little "real estate." Most of its "preserves" are on leased land.

TJ
 
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I am a TT member and got a sweet deal on a Elite Connections membership. That being said I have only stayed at a couple TT CG in the midwest toward FL. In FL (there is only 3) I primarily stay at TT Orlando to visit my Sis and BIL who full time and TT is part of their retirement plan. TT Orlando currently has 900 sites and are currently adding 163 sites on the land they own. More to come based on the land I've seen that they own. So the REIT obviously sees the investment value in the Disney area.
 
Joined
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Location
WA, MT or somewhere else!
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40'
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2014 Honda CR-V
I suppose the situation may vary with geographic area. Our experience was primarily in the Western states.

TJ
 
Joined
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457
Location
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I have been digging a little deeper on this topic and found a Broker the resells TT memberships. Campgroundmembershipoutlet.com. Kimberly explained the many facets of memberships to campgrounds including the various TT contracts, Camping Pass through "LifeTime" membership. These contracts are tailored to appeal to the various camping styles of potential members use. Here is the fact sheet that is currently distributed.

This outline gives a rough idea of the different Membership Contracts available in the PreOwned market. These benefit contracts may or may not currently be available new from TT based on the current market strategy currently being marketed by TT.

The main benefit of a new contract is that it can be sold or transferred to a new beneficiary while the pre-owned contracts most likely do not have that feature. New contracts can be financed while pre owned must be paid in full when purchased. The benefit of Pre Owned is you might find a set of features currently not available from TT currently.

It is important to understand that there is no guarantee of any type of campground spot or availability of any camping spot at all with any of these contracts. Florida typically fills up very early in the reservation season. From what I have read, you have to be flexible, detiremand, and persistent when making reservation in season. That said you have to be at the Park at 12 noon to get the best selection of available spaces. These spaces are first come first served.

From comments by experienced TT travelers, you are best served by knowing the campground spots and where you might like to stay before you get in line at the campground. This helps yo find and secure an appropriate camping spot. And yes, typically there is a line that forms at 12 noon sharp. And I have also been informed that if you arrive early, before noon, you will be turned around and asked to leave the premises.

So there is a fairly steep learning curve in most aspects of the TT camping process from reservations, to arriving at the campground.

As mentioned earlier in this thread, there are significant variations in the TT campground facilities. Consequently why we would choose to add the Trails Collection to increase our choices in any area served. Also depending on where you like to travel, these campgrounds are on the East and West Coast and along the Sunbelt.Not many in the midwest. And fewer in the west areas.

Now does it make sense to bother with any of this?? We can recoup the cost of the Basic Camping pass with the Trails Collection in about 20 nights or three weeks at a campground if the typical average rate is about $40 per night. We typically do not stay anywhere for more than a week. With the Trails Collection we can avoid the 7 days exclusion period subsequent to a stay longer than 4 days by going from TT to Encore and then back to TT. Again you have to learn how to work their system to get the most out of a contract.

If you considered a TT contract, based on our current camping style a Basic Camping Pass with the Trails Collection is the most cost beneficial for us. Now we have to determine when would be the appropriate time to purchase. TT does offer incentives off season, like 20% off the first year.


The attached document is available from: campgroundmembershipoutlet.com
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