Building a Legacy: The Ferber Family’s Journey Through the Hospitality Industry

While the old adage "if you build it, they will come" might resonate in nostalgic baseball films, Stew Ferber of Ferber Resorts knows that in the campground industry, success requires much more than just existence. It demands hard work, dedication, and a genuine heart for what you do.

From Childhood Dreams to a Family Legacy

Stew's lifelong journey in hospitality began with family camping trips. His father, David Ferber, once a brilliant engineer, envisioned a life that was less about career and more about passion.

"We camped a lot as a family," Stew shared. "At the campgrounds we’d visit, my father would often turn to me and say, 'Can you imagine waking up to this every single day? I want to be on the other side of that counter.'"

Captivated by David’s dream, the Ferber family took a leap of faith.

Responding to an advertisement in the Los Angeles Times, they traveled to Springdale, Utah, to visit Zion Canyon Campground. In 1974, they purchased the property and it’s been in the Ferber family ever since.

"I helped my father when I was a kid," Stew recalled. "Years later, I took over so my father could retire. By that time, I had a successful business of my own. It was hard to give that up to move to Utah from southern California. At first, I was having bad visions of what my life was going to turn into. But it only took about six months and I started to realize what my father saw."

Today, Stew is not the only Ferber contributing to the camping industry—his son and daughter, both graduates in hospitality, see the beauty of the family legacy as well. 

Embracing Change While Honoring Tradition

As Stew settled into his role as the owner, he committed to creating an experience at Zion Canyon Campground that went beyond basic camping.

"It’s not just about giving people a place to park," Stew said. "It’s about giving people a good location to enjoy. It’s about staffing the park with friendly people who want to be here. People are on vacation. They don’t have to be here. They want to be here. This is not the place to minimize help, minimize service, and maximize profit. Profit comes when you enjoy what you do and the customer enjoys where they’re at."

Despite challenges, like a flood that took out several buildings and one of Stew's hotels, he saw an opportunity for improvement and innovation.

"We built a new office building, a beautiful store, and beautiful new facilities," Stew remembered. "And where the hotel was, that’s where we put our cabins. We turned bad times into good."

His subsequent purchase of Zion River Resort also reflected his dedication to revitalization.

"I knew the guys who built Zion River Resort," Stew said. "They had a passion for running it, but they hadn’t been there in probably seven or eight years. I bought it and put the love back into the place."

After making necessary repairs and easing the staff’s stress with more manageable schedules, Zion River Resort is now thriving. It's clear that the heart behind the upgrades made all the difference.

"The new wave is that people think they can buy or build an RV park and the business will come," Stew disclosed. "That’s just not our philosophy. Sometimes a person goes into campground ownership looking for the cash flow. They’re not necessarily interested in the business. I see that happening more these days."

But Stew doesn’t see that as a totally negative thing. Instead, he has encouraging words for those just getting into the campground industry.

"Learn to love it," Stew advised. "Sure there are some good opportunities out there, so strike while the iron is hot. But if you fall in love with it, the money will come. I grew up camping with my family, sitting around the campfire. We may have lost that to some extent, but we’re in a business where we can continue to provide that kind of atmosphere for families. This is an easy business to love."

And he’d like to keep it going.

Modern Tools for Timeless Hospitality

Reflecting on his journey in the industry, Stew reminisces about the early days and contemplates on how much has changed.

"Before CampLife, my mother and I would sit around and open envelopes with checks for deposits," Stew recalled. "Then we would literally slot all of our reservations. We’d all have these tickets that we wrote out with the name of the person and we’d slot them in behind each other, trying to fit everyone in the park."

These days the reservation software handles all that, and a lot more.

"I don’t have to be in front of everything anymore," Stew admitted. "Every night, I get a report of the reservations that were made online for both my parks. And every morning, I get a report from the previous day’s revenue summary. Whether I’m there or not, it’s on my phone. I can see the pulse of the place."

While it’s true CampLife helps Stew keep his finger on the pulse of his park, it's his family that continues to be the heart behind it all. Together, they ensure that the legacy of campground hospitality is carried forward, blending the best of tradition and technology. 

At CampLife, we share Stew’s love for the camping industry and his commitment to excellence. We love what we do, and we hope it comes out in the way we serve our parks. We are proud to support campground owners like Stew who pour their hearts and souls into creating welcoming spaces for their guests.

For those who are drawn to the world of campground hospitality, we invite you to reach out. Whether you’re a seasoned owner or just getting started, we’d love to discuss how CampLife can simplify your operations. Visit our website or give us a call to see how our tools can support your mission—and discover why we love the camping industry, too. 

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