RV park changes hands

Written by Bill Rautenstrauch, For The Observer July 31, 2013 10:55 am
A young couple hailing from Oregon’s Mt. Hood corridor is set to start a new life in Union County, and in at least one way, their new digs look like home. 

This month, Mike and Tamarah Rysavy, formerly of the Mt. Hood community of Rhododendron, took over as owners of Eagles Hot Lake RV Park, a long-enduring, favorite stopping place for people passing through Union County in recreational vehicles.

The facility, with its 100 pull-through RV lanes and large tenting area, is situated adjacent to Hot Lake Springs, the natural hot springs resort southeast of La Grande owned by David and Lee Manuel.

For the Rysavys, proximity to natural hot springs is nothing new. As residents of Rhododendron, they lived close to Bagby Hot Springs, and were in fact members of the Friends of Bagby Hot Springs, a group that works to preserve and support operations at that famous tourist destination.

“We managed it for a lot of years, so we’ve got that kind of customer experience,” said Mike, who also has worked in the Mt. Hood area as a real estate agent, property manager and general contractor.

The Rysavys bought the local RV park from Jim and Marge Hollandsworth, the owners since 2004. The Hollandsworths said they’re retiring after a long, hard
effort to improve the park and build repeat business.

The improvements have included new plumbing for the swimming pool and hot tub, construction of a pavilion that’s used for special events like weddings and family reunions, regular all-around maintenance and smoother operation of the camp’s store and laundry facility.

 Jim Hollandsworth said travelers have come to enjoy the upgraded amenities. With a high rating from the Good Sam RV club, the park attracts crowds taking part in organized events as well as people traveling on their own.

 For one thing, the park is the site of an annual gathering of owners of Nash RVs made in La Grande. People from all over the country take part every year. Also, the park frequently serves as a base for people who come to Northeast Oregon for sporting events.

Jim Hollandsworth said he, his wife and staff have worked hard to make a stay at the park memorable, and the efforts have paid off. Many customers, he said, end up staying longer than they originally planned.

“We get a lot of people coming in for one night who decide to stay for three. That kind of business has tripled over the years,” he said.

Mike Rysavy said he’s pleased with the upkeep and likes what’s there already. He added that he plans to build some new features at the park, which stays open year-round.

“We haven’t got approval, but we’ll be submitting applications to build cabins and yurts,” he said.

Another thing on the Rysavys’ to-do list is to continue lobbying Union County for pavement of Hot Lake Lane, the road that connects the park with Interstate 84.

Jim Hollandsworth said he wishes he’d been successful in his own efforts to get the gravel road improved.

“I’ve asked for it several times but it hasn’t done any good,” he said.

Mike Rysavy said he hopes he can get the county to do the job eventually.

Like Hollandsworth before him, he considers it important for business.

 “People driving big expensive motor homes don’t like to get dust on their rigs,” he said.

The Rysavys have two daughters, Autumn, 5, and Juniper, 20 months. Their mother, Tamarah, said the family is excited by what lies ahead.

“It’s going to be a lot of work, but also an adventure. It’s going to be an interesting chapter in our lives,” she said.

Tamarah’s parents, Jim and Daylene Hovey, are partners in the enterprise and will work closely with their daughter and son-in-law to make it a success.

 “We wanted to do something in the way of a family business with my parents,” Tamarah said.

As for the Hollandsworths, they haven’t solidified all their retirement plans but say the future includes some travel.

“We’re probably going to move south. We’re going to look at everything from Utah and southern Nevada to Texas,” Jim said.