HOLIDAY — Love those Guy Harvey T-shirts with the soaring marlins? In the not too distant future, you might be able to kick back in your own Guy Harvey cottage in the first-ever Guy Harvey RV park.
Named after the popular Jamaican marine artist and conservationist, the Guy Harvey Outpost Club & Resort Community Tarpon Springs has begun taking reservations for lots and upscale cottages just north of the Pinellas-Pasco county line where the Anclote River empties into the Gulf of Mexico.
If your image of an RV park is a KOA campground, push it aside and consider this: The lots will start at $150,000 and cottages at $250,000. The target buyer— college-educated outdoorsy types who love to camp and fish.
"It all started with the desire to expand our brand into freshwater and inshore fishing as opposed to fishing offshore so we came to realize there were some very unique opportunities in resort RV space," said Mark Ellert, president of the Guy Harvey Outpost chain of resorts and lodgings. "From all the research it's clear that camping, if not the most actively pursued sport, is right up there."
Ellert said the company chose the Tarpon Springs area because of its historic nature, "great boating and fishing" and its location in "one of the most robust tourism destinations Florida" — Tampa Bay. Since the project was announced more than a year ago, it has mushroomed in size and cost — from 46 acres and $15 million to 66 acres and an estimated $35 million.
"We changed plans pretty dramatically thanks to enhancements that (Pasco County) approved," Ellert said Friday "We were able to rotate the site 180 degrees and change the entrance and in doing that it allowed us to rethink the project as much more of a destination resort. That meant we were able to add more public amenities like a restaurant and discovery center and buy more land."
The park's 70 solar-paneled cottages — actually tiny houses of 400 to 500 square feet — will be loft- style with one or two-bedrooms and can be purchased fully furnished and equipped. The 270 paved RV lots will have electric service, cable, water and sewer. Owners will have the option to put their cottages and lots in a rental program.
Tentatively due for completion in January 2019, the lakefront resort next to Anclote River Park will include a restaurant and tiki bar, bike trail, kids camp, exercise center, dog park and high speed WiFI. The discovery center and Guy Harvey Theater will "provide interactive and educational nature and marine-life opportunities," according to a release. And of course there will be a place to buy Guy Harvey T-shirts, jewelry and other items.
Guy Harvey Outpost already has resorts in St. Pete Beach, St. Augustine, Islamorada, the Bahamas, Panama, Cancun, and the Galapagos. It plans a second RV resort near Lake Okeechobee but is bidding against Bass Pro Shops to take over the Okee-Tantie Recreation Area in Okeechobee County.
After a major slump during the Great Recession, the RV industry has steadily rebounded. Shipments of RVs soared 15 percent last year, the seventh consecutive annual increase.