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Westwind RV's 'names' open to community
A warm welcome is what keeps flocks of Canadian and American snowbirds coming back to Westwind RV & Golf Resort for the winter months year after year.
But for the 2013 season, the park is also rolling out the welcome mat for the entire Yuma community with three special shows featuring “name” entertainers.
“We said ‘let's do it' this year,” explained Dianne Brinda, the park's activities director. “We have such a nice ballroom, this seemed like a good way to get more recognition locally and to bring folks into the resort to see how nice it is.”
The Kingston Trio kicks off the special shows with matinee and evening performances next Saturday (Jan. 12), followed by “Adbacadabra — The Ultimate ABBA Concert” Feb. 2 and “Country Gold Presents in Person” with an all-star lineup of Leroy VanDyke, Rudy and Steven Gatlin of the Gatlin Brothers, Jimmy Fortune of the Statler Brothers and Helen Cornelius on Feb. 23. Reserved seating tickets for special shows range from $22 to $30 for matinees and $25-$34 for evening, and are available at the resort office or online at www.westwindrvgolfresort.com.
These “specials” are in addition to a regular schedule of Saturday performances at the resort's Crystal Ballroom ($15 each or $75 for a season pass) that began Jan. 5 and continue through March 9 — not to mention weekly Friday night dances with live music and a dizzying array of jam sessions, karaoke nights, happy hours and more, most of which are also open to the public.
“If somebody gets bored in this park, they're just not trying,” said Peter Hawkins, a Minnesota nature photographer who doubles as the official Westwind photographer for the winter.
“You can stay just as busy as you want to here, or back off and take a night off if you need to,” Brinda added with a laugh, though she also noted that since the park offers a full-service bar and a cafe that operates 7 a.m.-10 p.m. daily from October through May, guests can even have meals delivered on those rare “off nights.”
The park's amenities mean that “pretty much everything except grocery shopping” is available on site, she said. In addition, Westwind's 55-plus singles group is one of the largest in Yuma, so guests who lose a spouse don't have to feel they'll be the odd one out returning to their favorite winter destination.
“We have the friendliest people,” said Sylvia Bergren, who manages the park with her husband, Jim. “Every year, people come back to renew friendships they've made here … it's like family, like coming home.”
The 28-year-old park is among Yuma's largest RV parks and includes a total of 1,075 rental spaces, among them 658 that are leased for the season. Now owned by Ray Farris II, whose Westwind Enterprises operates 14 parks across the southwestern United States, it was originally developed in 1985 as Rogers RV Park by a Canadian who promised 10 years of free rent and golf to entice his countrymen to Yuma. Perhaps not surprisingly, he eventually found that offer wasn't economically feasible.
Still, that legacy persists in the makeup of the park's guests, with about 75 percent hailing from north of the border, and the rest from the Pacific Northwest and the northern United States.
Westwind's onsite golf course remains somewhat unique among Yuma RV parks. The nine-hole, par three course is also open to the public, with a pro shop and lessons from beginner to advanced. Tournaments attract folks from around Yuma and even other RV parks, Brinda said.
The average age of Westwind guests is somewhere from 60 to 70 and is going down with more “boomer birds” arriving each year, according to Bergren. The park also attracts “quite a lot of travelers just stopping by,” she said, including international visitors from as far away as Sweden and Australia, though short-term rentals are often in short supply.
“This is a very popular park in a very popular destination,” said Bergren. “That it's not the big city, it brings a lot of people that like that Yuma is smaller and friendlier.”
In fact, “friendly” is a word that just keeps cropping up in a visit to the park and some of the nearly 100 employees (including “workampers”) who keep things humming and guests busy. Maybe that's why the readers of RVwest, a magazine for Canadian snowbirds, chose Westwind as their top Arizona RV resort — and Yuma their No. 1 Arizona snowbird destination.
“We have a beautiful park and the friendliest staff,” Brinda said. “We're here to make people happy and enjoy their stay.”
And if the stay is just for the evening, no matter: The watchword at Westwind is welcome.
Ann Walker, a writer for the Yuma Visitors Bureau, can be reached at email@example.com or 376-0100.
‘Name shows' the latest attraction at Westwind RV & Golf Resort
‘Name shows' the latest attraction at Westwind RV