Some people dream of vacations at posh resorts…others of camp sites in the wild. “Glamping”—short for glamour camping—offers both.
On a glamping trip, your days might be spent hiking or rafting in the backcountry, but your nights could be spent sleeping on fresh sheets in a soft bed. Though you might be many miles from civilization, your meals could be prepared by an elite chef, and there might be hot water for your morning shower.
Here’s what you need to know before you give glamping a try…
WHAT TO EXPECT
There’s little consensus about what level of luxury the term “glamping” implies, which can make it difficult for travelers to know what they’re getting. Some glamping facilities and tour operators truly offer amenities on par with high-end resorts. Guests enjoy maid and butler service, four-star chefs and opulent accommodations. But others really are just camping facilities that throw in a few extras such as a real bed and a private bathroom.
Prices vary greatly, too, from $100 a night to well into the thousands—and might or might not include meals.
Warning: Some campground owners are trying to cash in on the glamping trend by using the term for extremely rustic facilities that barely qualify as comfortable, much less glamorous. Before booking a stay with any glamping facility or tour operator, confirm that you will have a real bed, not just a sleeping bag. That’s the absolute minimum requirement for true glamping.
Also, check the company’s Web site or call to ask the following questions to get a feel for the level of luxury provided…
Is there electricity? Just a few lights, or can I plug in other devices as well?
Is there running water? Hot water? A private shower? A private bathroom?
Is there maid service?
Is there heating?
Is there Internet access?
Are meals provided? Which meals? Are they included in the base price? What’s the chef’s background? If the chef has well-regarded restaurants on his/her résumé, it’s a good sign that this is truly a luxury camping experience.
What are the accommodations? If it’s a tent or a teepee, how large is it? Glamping tents should be as spacious as a small room, perhaps 10-foot-by-10-foot or larger. And they should be on wood platforms, not pitched directly on the soil. Other acceptable glamping accommodations include tree houses, cabins and yurts—a yurt is a circular tent, typically made from felt or skins.
How private are the accommodations? If guests sleep in tents, it’s worth knowing how far these tents are from one another—canvas walls don’t provide much privacy.
Should I bring a sleeping bag? A tent? Be concerned if the answer to either is yes—unlike a basic campground, a true glamping facility should provide guests with tents and beds.
Are sheets, blankets and towels provided? Most glamping facilities provide these, but some basic ones do not.
What do you recommend guests bring? Guests might or might not be expected to bring their own camping basics such as flashlights and bug spray.
Four of the best places to go glamping in the US and Canada…
Treebones Resort in Big Sur, California, is located on a bluff 400 feet above the Pacific Ocean offering spectacular views. Guests stay in spacious, fully furnished yurts with comfortable beds and hot and cold running water. The facility also features a pool and hot tub with an ocean view, an outdoor sushi bar and an on-site restaurant.
Downside: Showers and toilets are located in the main building, not in each yurt.
Rates: Typically $160 to $250 per night, but more for larger yurts. 877-424-4787, TreebonesResort.com.
Paws Up in Greenough, Montana, 35 miles east of Missoula, is the most famous luxury camping facility in North America. Guests stay in spectacular tents set among pine groves or along the Blackfoot River on Paws Up’s 37,000-acre wilderness property. Most tents feature king-size beds, en-suite bathrooms and art hanging on the walls. Guests eat in great restaurants and enjoy stellar service. Paws Up truly defines the glamping experience.
Downside: It’s extremely expensive.
Rates: $1,000 to $1,800 per night, which includes three meals a day. 800-473-0601, PawsUp.com.
WildExodus in Ontario, Canada, offers luxurious lakeside camping in the Boreal Forest of Ontario’s Wilderness Region. Guest stay in tents styled after “prospector” tents, only with modern amenities such as comfortable beds and electricity. They dine on fish caught the same day and prepared by a skilled chef. WildExodus excels at providing outdoor activities such as canoeing and fishing.
Downside: Parties must be between four and 12 guests.
Rates: For a seven-day stay, $950 to $1,900 per person. Rates include three meals per day, professional guide services and use of sporting equipment. 705-266-1555, WildExodus.com.
The Martyn House in Ellijay, Georgia, is a bed-and-breakfast that also offers luxury tents set in the forested foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, about an hour and a half north of Atlanta. Though Georgia’s weather can get very hot, The Martyn House’s mountain location and open-tent design keep its tents relatively cool. There are heaters for cold nights. Each tent has its own bathroom with hot and cold running water, a shower and toilet. In addition to outdoor activities such as fly-fishing, rafting and hiking, the region features numerous art galleries, antiques shops and restaurants.
Downside: This isn’t a glamping facility where guests explore a remote wilderness—The Martyn House is just two miles from downtown Ellijay.
Rates: $180 to $220 per night, with a minimum two-night stay. Prices include breakfast. 706-635-4759, TheMartynHouse.com.