A new RV park in the mix

The beautiful site on the banks of the scenic St. Mary River is located just steps away from the popular St. Eugene Golf Resort.

by Gerry Warner
The new RV park at the St. Eugene Golf Resort & Casino site is situated on the banks of the scenic St. Mary River.

The new RV park at the St. Eugene Golf Resort & Casino site is situated on the banks of the scenic St. Mary River. — Photo courtesy Anthony Gregwetch

RVers from the Pacific Northwest now have another reason to visit the East Kootenay with the opening of a new RV park at the St. Eugene Golf Resort & Casino, 10 kilometres northeast of Cranbrook.

The beautiful site on the banks of the scenic St. Mary River is located just steps away from the popular St. Eugene Golf Resort & Casino and RVers will have equal access to all the resort has to offer including its award-winning, 7,000-yard championship golf course, glittering casino and fine dining at the Smokehouse Dining Room and Lounge.

“They can even have room service if they want it,” said Barry Zwueste, the genial CEO of the historic resort now in its 15th year. St. Eugene is the site of a former residential school that closed in 1970 and was reincarnated as an upscale resort, owned and operated by the four bands of the Ktunaxa Nation and the Shuswap Indian Band. The remarkable transformation means RVers also have the bonus of being exposed to the culture of the Ktunaxa people and can view native artifacts in an interpretive centre located in the refurbished three-storey, brick resort.

And that’s not all. The park, designed by B. M. Potter Consultants Ltd. in Calgary, is planned to be a KOA (Kampgrounds of America) RV park, managed by the famous American camping company that operates and franchises close to 500 RV campgrounds across the U.S. and Canada.  At full build-out, this means the park will have 117 landscaped camping sites with water, electricity, sewer, a picnic table and a fire ring, as well as hook-ups for Wi-Fi and cable TV.  Like all other KOAs, there will also be a central building with laundry facilities, showers and camping supplies to meet every need. The first sites opened in early August and a grand opening is scheduled for the spring of 2018. After the grand opening, it will be known as the Cranbrook/St. Eugene KOA Journey.

Barry Zwueste, CEO of St. Eugene Golf Resort & Casino, is happy to welcome a new RV park to the mix.

Barry Zwueste, CEO of St. Eugene Golf Resort & Casino, is happy to welcome a new RV park to the mix. — Photo courtesy Gerry Warner

“I think we have a very bright future ahead of us,” said Zwueste. “We have a strong management team in place and with KOA we’ll be using the most recognized camping brand in North America. As more baby boomers retire, RVing grows more popular every year and this bodes well for the new park," he said.

A third of the camping sites will be right along the St. Mary River, which is famous for its trophy trout fishing and is serviced by local fishing guide operators. The river also offers canoeing, kayaking and whitewater rafting in its upper reaches, also serviced by local guiding companies.

Like every other KOA, the park will also have four sites for tenters, which means you don’t need to own an expensive RV to camp at the park. Many of the RV sites will be drive-through, “which is sure to delight the owners of large RV rigs," Zwueste added.

All in all, the new St. Eugene RV Park will be able to offer more amenities to RVers than almost any other RV park around, Zwueste said. The park also represents a new revenue stream for the St. Eugene resort, which hasn’t developed any new facilities since the casino opened in 2002. All of this is not only good for the St. Eugene Golf Resort & Casino and its owner communities, but also Cranbrook and the surrounding region, he said.

“We’re going to accommodate more tourists which for sure will visit the town and utilize the facilities and amenities available in Cranbrook and Kimberley, creating a micro-economy which should benefit everyone,” Zwueste said.

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