A longstanding Kampgrounds of America Inc. franchise between Bend and Sisters has ended its connection with the company and taken on a new name, the Bend Sisters Garden RV Resort.
Celia Hung, who owned the KOA franchise, owns the new business.
In 2005, she bought the property from Dennis and Ceceilia McCarthy, according to Deschutes County records. In January, she did not extend a contract for a five more years with KOA.
She said she decided to end the franchise agreement because she had been thinking, “I should probably come out and be on my own.”
For years, KOA offered her sound business advice, she said, but she has come to enjoy the new independence.
Several other people owned the property before the McCarthys. Company records show it was a KOA campground as far back as 1972.
Hung said she has made several changes to the campground in the past five years. The new name reflects the resort’s revised offerings and a greater focus on accommodating recreational vehicles.
Her passion for gardening, she said, inspired her to start changing the appearance and feel of the campground one year after taking ownership of the franchise.
Hung said she has brought an elegant, upscale feel to the place, which previously had standard campground features.
“I love building gardens,” she said while giving a tour of the grounds last week. “I’ve been designing and building (them) since I know how.”
The new Bend Sisters Garden RV Resort — so named since January — is, Hung said, “the biggest (garden) I’ve ever built in my whole life.”
Hung said she worked in real estate on the Oregon Coast and in Southern California for several years, but the resort is the first campground she has renovated.
The land is now speckled with lavender bushes.
Tulips and daffodils are on their way up, and Hung has planted new trees — maple, aspen and dogwood. An area for flowers, vegetables and herbs will come soon.
She paved the gravel roads, and widened them for easier RV access. She commissioned the construction of new bathroom cabins with hand-painted, heated concrete floors. She has brought in furnished trailers for temporary stays, and converted brush areas into more spaces for guests.
As for her plans outside the resort, she is eager to open similar places elsewhere in Central Oregon, and she has been thinking about establishing a new hotel in Sisters.
Jeri Buckmann, events director at the Sisters Area Chamber of Commerce, said she knows about the changes at the campground and Hung’s plans for the future.
“We’re excited for her, we’re glad for her, and we’ll continue to work with them as a chamber member and just keep going forward,” Buckmann said.
KOA has 11 remaining campgrounds in Oregon, including one near Culver. A company spokesman did not return a call for comment.