Santee Lakes Campground in Summerton got a new facelift. Early in July, Santee Lakes became Santee Lakes KOA. Meg Malanuk, the owner’s daughter-in-law, came on board to assist with the transition and manage the technology and marketing side of the business.
“We wanted to do some upgrades, and we wanted to have more overnight business. We wanted to turn it into a more family-oriented campground, so families would spend time here,” said Malanuk. The campground had become a primarily long-term resident campground, and the Malanuks wished to take it in a new direction, hoping to appeal to more of the overnight and vacationing crowd. However, any current long-term resident was given the option to stay, and many did.
“We chose KOA because they’re a really well-run franchise, and they have high standards,” said Malanuk. “We liked that, and we really like all the support they’ve given us.”
Until the changeover, Santee Lakes had continued to use pen and paper to keep track of reservations and billing. KOA provided computer systems and the software, as well as the training, for their new online registration system.
“There has been a huge learning curve, but I think it’s been a really positive thing,” said Malanuk.
While not all planned improvements are complete, the campground has upgraded many sites to 50-amp and has also cleaned up and leveled them to make them more accessible to the larger RVS on the roads today. New washers and dryers have been added, and they have rebuilt the fishing pier. New wooden furniture sits out by the lake, as well as a new playground for children.
“We just tried to make it more of a vacation destination,” said Malanuk. “That’s what we were aiming for.”
The campground still has primitive sites for tents and 30-amp sites for smaller RVS. All sites are pet friendly, and the campground has created a fenced dog area with convenience bags available. There are a mini-golf area, a pool and kiddie-pool and a game-room. Boats and jet-skis are fine, as long as these can fit on the reserved lot with the RV while not in the water.
Even though it has been a short time, the new KOA has seen a noticeable increase in traffic, with some overnighters stopping as they travel through the area and some coming to stay the weekend.
The Malanuks have more upgrades planned and hope to complete them within the next year. The convenience store will receive an upgrade. Currently the have a variety of convenience items, RV items and a free paperback book swap shelf for guests.
They also plan on remodeling a large recreation hall, so they can rent it out for events and reunions.
“We have some lofty goals, but first we got it up to KOA standards,” said Malanuk. “But KOA has really been wonderful.”
To find out more about Santee Lakes KOA call 803-478-2262, or to make reservations, call 800-562-2608 or go online to koa.com/campgrounds/santee.