Marina Dock Age – VIP Marinas Buys Anclote Village Marina

In September 2019, VIP Marinas expanded its locations to include the Sunshine State with the addition of Anclote Village Marina in Holiday, Florida.

The purchase of the marina also brought VIP Marinas owner Austin Cameron closer to his original goal of owning 10 marinas by the time he is 45 years old. In April 2019, he bought The Cliffs on Possum Kingdom Lake in Texas. He now owns seven marinas in Texas, one in Oklahoma, and Anclote Village – his first property in Florida.

In 2009, Cameron bought his first marina, VIP Marina on Lake Travis in Texas. He had been in the real estate business, but with the economy on the decline, he began looking for a career and lifestyle change. His mother passed away at age 60 in 2008. “She always told me to do something I loved,” he said. “That really hit home after she died.”

He bought VIP Marina out of bankruptcy, remodeled the apartment above the ship store to live in, and logged more than 100 hours underwater making dock repairs. “I jumped in head-first,” Cameron said. “I lived it and breathed it.”

Cameron grew up on the water, skiing for the first time at age two on Lake Travis. He bought his first lake house at age 20. “All my memories of childhood and as a young adult are on the water,” he said. “My favorite thing is to bring that lifestyle to our customers.”

Those childhood memories help drive his business philosophy to provide top-of-the-line customer service and enhance people’s boating experience. The VIP Marina company vision is to make destination marinas where people can create positive memories that last a lifetime. “We bring that vision to our marinas for the customers and the staff,” Cameron said.

He enjoys seeing families have a good time out on the water. “If people are out having fun, the longer they’ll be there, the longer they’ll keep their boat, and they’ll tell their friends,” Cameron said. “People having fun are spending money.”

Anclote Village Marina

Anclote Village Marina is located on 3.23 acres near the mouth of the Anclote River and features 25 wet slips, 195 dry racks, a fuel dock, a dockside bait shop and a waterfront restaurant.

Cameron credits the popular restaurant, Miss Vicki’s on the River for helping put the marina on the map. The beachside grill is open six days a week with live music every afternoon. “It’s a really cool vibe,” he said.

The Leisure Property Advisors team of Colliers International in Tampa represented Cameron and the seller, St. Joseph’s Sound Investments, LLC.

“This property has the advantages of in-place cash flow and accessibility, both for him (Cameron) coming from Texas and his boaters being able to reach popular destinations like Caledesi Island, Honeymoon Island, and Anclote Key,” said Matt Putnam, managing director of Leisure Property Advisors. “In addition, he felt this location is going to significantly benefit over the next few years from the growth occurring along the State Road 54 corridor in Pasco County.”

During two months of marketing the property, Colliers saw interest from regional marina investors, large national companies, local investors and first-time marina buyers that culminated in 10 offers.

“This kind of heightened interest from investors represents a trend in the market,” said Dan Grovatt, director of Leisure Property Advisors. “Marinas continue to gain significant investor attention, as yields compress in core commercial real estate asset types.”

In addition to being in a growing market, Cameron said he and his wife love the location, and he can’t get enough time in boating, spear fishing and scuba diving.

“It’s a beautiful area,” he said. “I’m excited. It fits my lifestyle, and I enjoy being with the staff and customers.”

Anclote Village is the closest marina to the mouth of the Anclote River. Cameron said it’s a long river, and it’s a 30-minute no-wake ride from some of the other marinas to the Gulf of Mexico. From Anclote Marina, it’s just a two-minute ride to open water. “We have a waiting list of people who want to be closer,” he said.

Cameron has started making repairs to the docks, remodeling the bathrooms, fixing the deferred maintenance, and he plans to expand the ship store. He will also implement a rate increase to bring the rates up to market level. “What the marina needed was a more sophisticated operation,” he said. “We are here to run it exceptionally well.”

The first 18 months after buying a new marina are the hardest for Cameron, while he works to make sure everything comes together to meet the VIP Marinas vision. “After that, once it’s up and running, I sit back and watch it work,” he said.

He relies on his management team and his local general managers and operation managers. “It’s all based on the local team. Setting up the local team is the most important thing,” he said. “I let the managers run it like it’s theirs. They take ownership in the business.”

He sees himself as a servant leader. “My job is to be with my people on the ground and to support them. Then the managers can do their job to help the customers,” Cameron said. He also credits his regional manager Felecia Ongley. “I couldn’t do it without Felecia,” he said. “I’m the idea guy, and she makes it happen.”

Cameron turned 40 this year, so he has bumped up his goal to own 15 marinas by age 45. He plans to buy one or two marinas a year. He wants to see his grandkids working on the docks someday, but knows he has a long way to go since his daughter is just 11 months old. “I want to build a marina empire that will last for decades,” he said.

Hill Country News – Lake Travis Marina adds 71 new boat slips

The NorthShore Marina on he NorthShore Marina on Lake Travis celebrated their ake Travis celebrated their addition of 71 boat slips with a ribbon-cutting ceremony, Saturday, June 24.

About 50 people were in at- bout 50 people were in attendance, including the Mayor of Jonestown Charles T. Powell and members of the Lago Vista and Jonestown Chamber of Commerce.

The marina’s growth is indicative of the positive economic trend of high water on Lake Travis and meeting the demand from a waiting list, said Elaine Hughes, executive director of the Lago Vista and Jonestown Chamber of Commerce.

“People want to bring their boats out to Lake Travis, and there’s room for everyone. This is a much better situation,” Hughes said. “This kind of growth shows the confidence in our area.”

With the new addition, the marina upgraded from 197 boat slips to 268, making it one of the largest on Lake Travis.

Austin Cameron, owner of NorthShore and VIP marinas, bought NorthShore Marina in 2016 and has been working to improve it since. “Owning and operating marinas is the best job I could ever ask for,” Cameron said. “It’s ten times the work than I expected when I got in the business. It’s not a part-time job. It’s a full-time job and an active investment that you have to be very careful of every day and pour tons of money back into the facility to keep it fixed and keep it successful. That said, I love every day and the work.”

“Austin is an active boater and marina owner,” he said. “When he came in here, he and his crew has done a lot to improve the marina, and they got the ship store up and running. It’s a deep water marina and it’s our favorite marina. We’ve been on three different marinas before and this is our favorite one.”

Located six miles North of Mansfield Dam and directly across from Emerald Point, the marina address is 6612 Lantern View Dr. in the Hollows subdivision in Jonestown. Northshore is the only deep water marina on Lake Travis, meaning even in times of drought, the marina is able to stay on water without having to move very far from shore. The water at Northshore Marina is 150 to 160 feet deep, so boat slips on Lake Travis is always accessible. The marina also has 80 by 20 foot sized boat slips, the largest on Lake Travis.

In the two weeks since opening the 71 new slips on the marina, 25 percent of them have been leased. Cameron said he anticipates phase two of the expansion to the marina to take place in fall of 2018 at the current rate.

“Things are going great, business is up compared to last year,” Cameron said. “As far as gas sales boat rentals and occupancy, we’re doing better in all categories.”

https://www.hillcountrynews.com/stories/marina-adds-71-new-boat-slips,75695

Hill Country News – New owner takes helm at VIP Marina

After falling on hard times last spring, the VIP Marina on Lake Travis now has a new owner. Austin Cameron bought the marina at a bankruptcy sale in November. He plans to make the marina complex once again live up to its name – VIP.

“I want this to be the best marina in Texas. There’s no reason it can’t be 100 percent full, or very close,” said Cameron, who spent several days at the Austin Boat Show last week, letting the public know that VIP is back.

The marina never actually closed during bankruptcy, but the occupancy rate fell as boat owners became concerned about the company’s financial health.

“Occupancy fell to 72 percent. I want it to be at least 98 percent,” Cameron said.

The marina has a Leander address, although it’s much closer to the village of Volente. In fact, it is next door to the Volente Beach water park.

An avid boater and water skier, Cameron began looking for a marina a year and a half ago. He hoped to buy one in either Texas or Oklahoma, but Lake Travis was his first choice. “I always wanted to own a marina, since I was a kid,” he said. “It’s a fixer-upper, and I plan to bring it back to life.”

What happened to the VIP Marina in Lake Travis is in some ways a microcosm of what happened to the entire U.S. Economy – the owner wound up overloaded with debt and wasn’t able to take care of the facility. It wound up in bankruptcy.

The marina was built in 1996 by Rick Redmond, who sold it to Steve Adams in 2003. He ran into financial trouble and filed bankruptcy in May 2009. “You have to reinvest a lot of your profits in a marina,” Cameron said. “Things start to deteriorate and tenants will start noticing and leave. For some people, their boat is their second-largest asset. They want it to stay fun and safe to visit.”

Cameron is the owner of AC Properties Real Estate Investments in Fort Worth. He is selling his inventory and may move to Austin permanently.

For at least two days a week, Cameron lives in an upstairs apartment above the marina store, along with his girlfriend Casey Whitlock and his dog Cowboy (a Yellow Lab that is actually a rare red color). The couple met in Florida, but Whitlock notes, “You couldn’t pay me to go back to Florida. Texas is so fun and laid-back.”

Because of fluctuations in lake levels, Travis is probably the most difficult lake for a marina business, but at the same time, it offers big rewards. “It has one of the highest slip rental rates in the nation,” Cameron said.

VIP also has a big advantage because it’s located near the river channel. That means it doesn’t have to be moved as far as other cove-based marinas when the lake is low. “We’re probably in the best position of any marina in the lake to slowly scoot up and down.”

VIP has four employees, two full-time and two part-time. In addition, the marina recently hired Volente Beach Manager Bill Gauspohl to perform maintenance work. “I’m really excited,” Gauspohl said about the new owners. “We’ve had a lot of great changes already. Attitude and appearance has increased 10-fold.”

The marina offers a variety of services, said Cameron. “We walk the dock, inspect your boat and retie the cover if needed.”

VIP has a pick-up service for boat owners. When they arrive at the parking lot next to Volente Beach, a golf cart will be sent to pick them up and take them to the dock.

This summer the company will begin renting boats, with six ski boats and six jet skis. VIP will also offer courtesy service for those who want it. Staff will clean the boat and fill the ice chest with beer and ice. “I want people’s water experience to be as enjoyable as possible,” he said.

The purchase has taken Cameron full-circle. His first time to water ski was on Lake Travis, when he was just over 2 years old, living on his parents’ ranch in Marble Falls. He was born in Houston and later moved to Fort Worth.

“It was at the end of summer and gave Mom some big bragging rights,” he said.

“I spent my whole life away from here, but now I’m back.” He still loves to water ski and plans to make time for the sport in the early morning hours this summer.

Cameron also likes to scuba dive, but hasn’t been doing it for fun lately. He recently spent nine hours straight in the 57-degree water of the lake, working on the support cables.

Maintaining a marina is much harder than it looks. The marina and docks must be kept level and straight as the lake level rises and falls. Doing that requires a complicated system of cables and winches. Not doing it can bend metal poles and could even put the marina at risk of tipping over during high winds.

“I had to repair and replace the winch stands and support cables that support the marina,” he said. “There are 78 stands; 24 of them were broken or had no cable – about one-third of the support was missing.” The cables have since been replaced and the marina is stable and structurally sound.

Next Cameron will be repairing roof leaks discovered during the latest rain storm. Cosmetic repairs will follow, with bathrooms remodeled to the level of a high-end restaurant.

“I’m training the employees to have a customer focus,” he said. “If the tenants are taken care of, word of mouth will fill the place up.”

For more information about VIP Marina, visit or call (512) 331-5375.

https://www.hillcountrynews.com/stories/new-owner-takes-helm-at-vip-marina,53737