My friend Jean and I left Calgary in the early morning, drove north on the Queen Elizabeth Highway 2 and arrived in the Lacombe, Alberta approximately 2 hours later. I had not been to this area before so I was amazed by the rich farmland, agriculture and green spaces in central Alberta. Since my interview with Lynn, owner of Summerland Leisure Park was after 12:00 p.m., we decided to eat an early lunch at Leto’s Steakhouse and Bar.
I chose Leto’s because of the great reviews online, the variety of choices on the menu, reasonable prices, and the Vegetarian options available. Plus, practically everything was made from scratch. The interior of the restaurant was beautiful and the natural light that poured in from the windows was pleasant and invigorating even though it was an overcast day.
I ordered the Spanakopita, an authentic homemade Greek dish that combined layers of Phyllo pastry stuffed with spinach, feta, green onions and herbs baked to a golden brown and served with Greek salad. Jean ordered the Alfredo dish tossed in their homemade creamy Alfredo sauce and topped with fresh parmesan. Chicken or shrimp as an addition to the meal was an extra dollar amount.
I can honestly say that it was one of the best meals dining out I have ever had in Alberta. Though we had to wait a bit longer for our meals because they were homemade, it was worth the wait. The meal portions were generous for the price we paid, the service was great and the restaurant had a pleasant peaceful atmosphere so I would definitely return again to Leto’s Steakhouse and Bar in the future.
If you’re interested in dining at this fabulous restaurant, Leto’s Steakhouse and Bar address is: 4944 Highway 2A, Lacombe, AB T4L 1J9 and the phone number is 403-782-4647.
We made our way back to Highway 12 and exited off of #422 for the turnoff to Summerland Leisure Park. When we arrived, we saw the mini golf area and people were having fun playing a few rounds there. The RV Park was well manicured and I was interested to see what Lynn had to say. We entered into the office and I introduced myself and my friend Jean.
Lynn had asked one of her customers, Len Grasley, to participate in a separate interview as well so below are the 2 interviews with Lynn and Len about the Summerland Leisure Park.
INTERVIEW WITH LYNN, OWNER OF SUMMERLAND LEISURE PARK
Owners Lynn and Brian of the Summerland Leisure Park in Lacombe, Alberta have created a wonderful place that RVers can share. Located in central Alberta, it was not an RV Park initially. Lynn explains, “What we bought was the mini golf and the driving range. This is our 7th year owning it and 4 years with the RV Park which we built 4 years ago. The reason for adding the RV Park was that we had all this land and there are more trailers than there are places to put them. You can’t just drive to a park and expect to get a spot. A lot of people are more upset that they can’t find a spot.”
Lynn has witnessed the RV industry grow tremendously in the last 10 years. “Units are getting bigger and there are more of them.” As for what the attraction is to RVing and who is buying the RVs today Lynn informs, “Younger families are buying them now whereas older couples have had them forever.”
The prices at Summerland Leisure RV Park are cheaper than what a provincial park offers. “Full service sites (31) include water, power, sewer and we also have10 non-serviced sites. Washrooms, showers and laundry are also available. The price for a serviced site in 2014 is $44 + GST and for a non-serviced site the price is $27,” shares Lynn.
But it’s not just the price that’s attractive to RVers who decide to stay at Summerland Leisure Park. It’s their management style where respect, trust and understanding are shared with visitors. Lynn describes the parameters for creating and managing a successful RV Park. “Variety, communication, honesty are important and consider customers’ suggestions. We wouldn’t really change much. We built the Summerland Leisure Park with large RV lots 60′ x 45′ wide because in our experience, some of the parks are just so small. At Pigeon Lake, we couldn’t put the slide out and at Camrose, it was tight too. We stayed in a lot of places that just weren’t acceptable so that’s why we started the Summerland Leisure Park with bigger lots and they are all the same size.”
Summerland Leisure RV Park opens on May 1st and closes on the Monday of Thanksgiving weekend. The hours of operation are from 10:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. 7 days a week during this time period.
Regarding the attraction to RVing for Lynn and Brian, they love to travel. They own a Winnebago Itasca Class A Motorhome. “We drive to Arizona at the end of October and stay at our permanent site in Mesa, Arizona.” They rent out their house in Red Deer because they couldn’t maintain a home and a popular RV Park due to the huge time commitment needed to manage both. “Once we are finished with the Park for good, we have a long list of places we want to visit. We are in Arizona because that’s where our friends are.”
What Lynn and Brian like most about RVing is “seeing places, historical sites, and the people you meet. We understand a lot because we are RVers. There’s a higher level of empathy being an RVer and owning an RV Park.”
Lynn and Brian did a lot of work on the land in order to create this RV Park and mini golf attraction in central Alberta. “We did what we wanted. How I handle this job is no different compared to my other job as a Social Worker.”
Where does Lynn want to be in 5 years? RVing of course, to the many places they have yet to explore. “We love the freedom of RVing, the education we get from traveling, and the interesting people we meet along the way.”
LEN GRASLEY SHARES THE BENEFITS OF BEING A SUMMERLAND LEISURE PARK CUSTOMER
Len Grasley grew up in Edmonton most of his life but he was born in Calgary. Up to grade 6 he grew up on the coast. His parents were in the armed forces so they moved around a lot. Eventually, he moved back to Edmonton. Len used to work for the CRA and various other departments but he is retired now and presently lives outside of Wetaskiwin.
Len has been RVing his entire life. His family mainly owned tent trailers and travel trailers. Currently, he owns a 1998 Vanguard 23 ft. Legend travel trailer. If he were to upgrade in the future, Len would choose an enclosed unit. “What type of unit is less important compared to how we use it and where we use it which is probably why we wouldn’t upgrade at this time.” He reminisced with his grandkids what it was like to RV when he was their age. “I was just telling my grandkids how we used to RV and travel to Vernon. The only thing I had to play with was outside.”
There is a difference between camping and RVing. “Simplest answer is the amenities. There are more amenities but when you’re camping, you’re living in the presence of nature,” adds Len. Why do people love camping and RVing? “It gets you away from the everyday of your life. We have a fire pit at home where we could create a fire but there’s something about getting away from home and getting closer to nature that’s appealing. Everything that home represents, I try to get away from.”
Len goes RVing every year. In fact, last year he spent the whole month of August with his grandkids but it varies every year. He is a return customer to Summerland Leisure Park for many reasons, especially its proximity. “It’s in the middle of Alberta and it has a lot to offer which is really neat. Kids love the Lacombe corn maze. Being central is perfect. I have family close by but for people living outside of Alberta, you can take day trips. It’s so handy for day trips. Summerland Leisure Park supports all of the things you can do. Here is a list of the benefits from his experience at Summerland Leisure Park that he finds appealing:
– It’s a well maintained site and the owners are supportive.
– They give a wealth of information to customers.
– They are always doing something to make it better.
– There’s a sandbox for kids.
– They’re always embellishing the concept.
– This is a resort so it is not a campground. Resorts give you extra. But some resorts don’t give you what this Park gives you. They don’t allow tenting. It’s more family oriented.
– There’s a playground and mini golf available.
– Retired couples and families come as groups.
– No parties are allowed so it’s quiet. This resort is relaxed and safe. Kids go to the playground by themselves.
– People like the example that Summerland Leisure Park upholds.
– People respect the properties. They have a clean site and you feel you should keep it clean. People come here because it’s clean and they don’t want to ruin it.
– The owners are very accommodating.
– Lynn the owner sets you up on a path to enjoy Alberta. They are goodwill ambassadors, are especially helpful for out of towners, and you can learn something new every time you visit.
Len’s grandkids love traveling and are “travel indulged” except they are not particularly fond of very long drives. “They wanted to return to Kelowna by flying there, only because they don’t like the long drive. They get bored driving. My two grandkids are 12 years old and 9 years old. One of the benefits of traveling and camping is that you get to sit around and share stories and it allows you to communicate with your kids.”
Len does an Internet search or goes by word of mouth to find out where to stay when they travel. “There’s a very tight niche in the RV industry. Word of mouth and the Internet is a good reference to discover places.”
At Summerland Leisure Park, mini golf is popular with everyone not just the kids. Plus, the beach is only 2 km west of Summerland. “Gull Lake is one of the few lakes you can swim in. Pigeon Lake is not swimmable. Gull Lake is still safe and it’s not commercialized,” explains Len.
There are many practical features that Len likes about Summerland Leisure Park and RVing in general. “You’re not camping on top of your neighbour and there’s a grassy area. The RV pad is at a nice angle and it’s long. They are not cemented gravel and they are level. The RV lots are well planned out and easily accessible. The best thing about RVing is getting away from the everyday monotony. When you’re traveling in an RV, you have your family’s undivided attention. You’re able to communicate. In 5 days or however long you are traveling, you have more time to learn and share. There are things you learn about the family that you’ve lived with you never knew before. I have better conversations with the grandkids than I do at home. I tell my grandkids, “You have only 1 person you are responsible for – yourself.”