Celebrating Excellence at Milton/Gulf Pines KOA: A Look Inside an Award-Winning Campground

Nestled on the edge of a bustling city lies a serene escape that has consistently charmed its visitors. Florida’s Milton/Gulf Pines KOA Holiday stands as a testament to the harmonious blend of nature, family, and community after winning the KOA Founder’s Award for the second year in a row.

Winning the prestigious award is not merely just for show; it’s a symbol of the campground’s unwavering commitment to excellence, winning the hearts of its guests. Roger and Dolores “Dede” Rhyne, the couple who manages the campground, recognized the award as the manifestation of all their hard work and dedication.

“And to make the Founder’s Award was a lot of hard work and everyone [had] to pull together. I think it’s the way management has supported us… they’ve been right behind us to do whatever they can that KOA has suggested or has set up that it needs to be done because a KOA franchise is hard work and that’s why they have the awards,” said Dede in an interview with Modern Campground.

Photo courtesy of Milton/Gulf Pines KOA Holiday.

A Prime Location For An Outdoor Getaway

Dede describes Milton/Gulf Pines KOA as “a country setting, right at the edge of a city.” Its location offers its guests an alluring essence that captures the best of both worlds –a tranquil country atmosphere coupled with the convenience of city amenities.

Just a half-hour drive from the beach, Milton / Gulf Pines KOA serves as a gateway to the Santa Rosa Sound and a variety of sea exhibits, making it a prime spot for those who seek adventure without straying too far from comfort.

Photo courtesy of Milton/Gulf Pines KOA Holiday.

“We are only a half hour from all the beaches straight south. Being off the literally, they go one road outside of our entrance and straight down, and they hit the Santa Rosa Sound and then the beach on whichever causeway they decide to know,” said Dede.

A Place For Families To Enjoy

With a plethora of activities and amenities tailored for children and families, the campground ensures that every family’s stay is packed with joy and bonding opportunities. 

Dede mentioned the campground has outdoor movies, mini-golf, and a community fire pit as just a few of the features that cater to family fun. These amenities are not just for entertainment; they’re the threads that weave lasting memories for families.

“Each [campground] has its own set of things that it needs to have. And of course, we are in the middle. We have to have activities, and we have to have a clubhouse [as a] place to meet [and] things for people to do [like] a pool. We have many outdoor activities and amenities for children. We are a family campground,” said Dede.

Community And Collaboration

Milton/Gulf Pines KOA’s integration with the local community is evident in its support for local businesses and restaurants, facilitated through the Santa Rosa County Chamber of Commerce. 

This symbiotic relationship enriches the guest experience, offering a taste of local culture and commerce. “We support all local businesses and restaurants,” Dede stated, highlighting the importance of community to the campground’s ethos.

Photo courtesy of Milton/Gulf Pines KOA Holiday.

Dede said that they have some local businesses and attractions mentioned on their website as well as on social media. She said their website also provides their guests with a list of activities outside the campground that they can enjoy, continuously supporting its local community.

Seasonal Strategizing And Supportive Management

Milton/Gulf Pines KOA has mastered the art of seasonal hospitality, extending its snowbird season from September to April—longer than many coastal counterparts.

“Well, we’ve been doing this many years, and one thing about snowbirds is they tend to routinely go to the same place, so you see them year after year. What we do is we see an influx starting in October. So, October 1 will get a little batch and then November 1 we’ll get another. It depends on when it starts getting cold in what area or what state they’re in,” said Dede.

This strategic move caters to the migratory patterns of seasonal visitors, ensuring a steady flow of guests and a vibrant community throughout the year. 

Photo courtesy of Milton/Gulf Pines KOA Holiday.

“Our snowbird season… We’re a little longer than some of the ones at the beach,” Dolores explains, showcasing the campground’s adaptability to guest needs.

On the management side of things, the Rhyne couple’s management style is a cornerstone to the campground’s success. “Roger and I could not have done what we’ve done… without the kind of staff that we have,” Dede shared, underscoring the collaborative effort required to maintain their high standards.

The management’s responsiveness to both staff and guest needs is a key factor in the campground’s ability to deliver a top-tier experience consistently.

“What I found that works best is to encourage them every week to get out of the park on their days off,” said Roger. “I don’t follow them around and lord over them to watch every time they stop and get on their phone or whatever.”

Roger said that they want their people to always be willing to be teachable. Still, he emphasizes the importance of their staff’s well-being, supporting them if ever anyone in their team is beginning to experience burnout.

Looking Forward To The Future

Looking ahead, the campground has its sights set on enhancing guest experiences with more executive sites and updated cabins. “Our plans are to upgrade our cabins… and potentially have a family area where we can have two cabins together,” Dede revealed.

The general manager said they plan to develop more executive sites and cement sites along with the cabins they plan to upgrade. Their plans indicate a forward-thinking approach to continuously improve and innovate the camping experience for guests.

The culture at Milton/Gulf Pines KOA is one of inclusion and interaction, where guests become part of the campground’s extended family. “We are a community,” Dede says, capturing the essence of the campground’s spirit. 

Photo courtesy of Milton/Gulf Pines KOA Holiday.

This culture not only enhances the guest experience but also fosters a sense of belonging and community that keeps visitors returning year after year.

“[T]eamwork is everything in work, camping and running a resort. I think the primary objective is to interact in doing your job. Whatever your job is, we are to interact. The guests are our priority,” Dede said. 

“And it doesn’t matter what they’re doing. Whether you are on the golf cart and you see a couple of joggers and they’re waving at you or they have a dog and you have dog treats. You make it a personal experience.”

The management prowess at Milton/Gulf Pines KOA Holiday is part of a larger network of excellence. The park is a key property in the Turnstone-Blue Vista portfolio, a joint venture that boasts an impressive collection of campgrounds and RV resorts.

Each with its unique charm and amenities, the portfolio includes American RV Resort, Bonanza Camping Resort, Gulf Beach RV Resort, Navarre Beach Camping Resort, Sugar Sands RV Resort, Panama City Beach RV Resort, Port St. Joe, Pikes Peak RV Park, and Basswood Resort.

Building on this foundation of quality, Milton/Gulf Pines KOA Holiday has ambitious plans for the future.

Featured image from Milton/Gulf Pines KOA Holiday.