A friend’s daughter in her early 20s—who always impressed me as beautiful and glamorous—said she was going camping. My first thought was, “Where will you plug in you hair dryer?” as she rarely left the house without looking 10-out-of-10.
While her camping expedition was successful (she actually loves camping), it turns out that the young woman was just ahead of her time.
Time was, when one went camping, you found a space in the woods, pitched a tend and called it your own, or you rented a location upon which to pitch your tent. Water came from a stream (if there was one) and cooking was accomplished in a fire ring with logs you split yourself. Bathroom facilities usually involved a tree.
Today, though, we have “glamping.”
Glamping is a combination of two words: “glamorous” and “camping.”
Glamping is, essentially, camping with extra amenities. These extras can involve unique dwellings or structures to sleep in, as well as spending the night in exotic locations. The website glamping.com, a recognized authority, has more than 800 locations across the world that qualify as glamping. Glamping facilities typically focus on guest comfort at night, with opportunities for singular experiences during the daytime.
Glamping is all about an experience you won’t soon forget, in an Instagram-friendly location.
You can find destinations that cater to your interests, be they fishing, skiing, hiking, sailing, biking, or just existing in a place totally different from what’s at home.
Discover the Breathtaking Southern Appalachian Wilderness with Luxury Gatlinburg Lodging in the Smoky Mountains.”
— glamping.com listing
Unique sleep treat
Because glamping is all about the experience, facilities typically try to offer something other than a dodgy RV or sterile motel room for you to rest your head. Sleeping under the stars takes on new meaning when your bed is in a Conestoga wagon, an upcycled shipping container, safari tent, tiny home, or a yurt. Some tents even have clear “skylight” panels for you to view the stars as you drift off.
“For overnight accommodations, guests can choose from the luxurious Grand Tents, the authentically styled Conestoga Wagons, or the cozy Traditional Family Tents. Each is outfitted with soft beds and fresh linens…”
— glamping.com listing
Often, even tiny homes or geodesic domes tries to distinguish themselves with king-or queen-size beds with ridiculously-high thread count linens, microwave, oven, flat screen TV, and more.
Yes, glamping facilities can sometimes approach 5-Star hotels when it comes to luxury amenities. Depending on where you “glamp” (is that a real word?), you may be able to begin your day with a solar-heated shower, have a made-to-order gourmet organic breakfast, then spend a day on a guided tour, and end up kicking back with a glass of chilled Chardonnay while a chef prepares dinner. Oh, did we forget the campfire or educational talk with a local naturalist?
“Stay in a stunning Safari Tent while enjoying amazing views, comfortable luxury bathrooms and gourmet meals in their on-site restaurant—all just minutes from the [Yellowstone] park.”
— glamping.com listing
The outdoorsy outfit Under Canvas has luxury camping facilities in some of America’s most stunning areas: Mount Rushmore, the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, Glacier National Park, Moab, and the Great Smoky Mountains. In addition to breathtaking views—they plan it that way—guests can have private bath/toilet facilities and enjoy cowboy cookouts, fly fishing, whitewater rafting, and even llama trekking, depending on the location.
Who’s glamping now?
Camping is traditionally the bailiwick of young families so children can explore something other than their video games. Glamping has caught on among many types of campers, but two groups stand out: adults (meaning no young-uns), and Gen-X types and singles wanting to explore new things.
“According to our data, the majority of campers—more than two-thirds—are familiar with glamping today, especially younger campers. They’re seeking a campground with additional benefits, including unique accommodations, such as cabins, teepees, safari tents and even yurts,” said Mike Gast, vice president of communications at KOA, the international campground chain.
KOA also cites additional data, underscoring glamping’s popularity:
- More than 77 million U.S. households camp—and those households are camping more frequently.
- New campers appear eager to camp more (39 percent said they’d be camping more in 2018) and offering different lodging options that make camping more accessible has allowed for that.
- Additionally, campers who have access to cell service and Wi-Fi are able to enjoy an average of four additional days of camping each year, thanks to the ability to remain connected.
- Millennials and Gen-Xers represent the biggest camping group today; millennials are most likely to seek new camping experiences, such as glamping.
- Fully 25 percent of millennial campers would like to take more trips that include luxury accommodations and high-end services and amenities.
KOA, which dates back to 1962, has embraced glamping and now offers more than 500 campgrounds across the U.S. and Canada. KOA now has Deluxe Cabins scattered all throughout North America, including Glamping Tents, cabooses, and authentic Native American teepees at some locations.
Roll on, sweet chariot
If your tastes run more toward the camper, trailer, or RV experience where you can roll in with your own luxury recreational vehicle, stay a couple of days and move on, glamping has that covered, too. The crucial difference is that glamorous RV parks offer far more than the usual fare.
For one thing, these tend to be less check-by-jowl than typical RV parks, and you may find yourself glamping some distance off the beaten path. Electrical service, potable water (not requiring decontamination) hot showers, snack bars, WiFi, and even a spa may be available.
Polson Motorcoach and RV resort in Montana offers a gym to get your morning exercise, gas fire pits, use of pool and hot tub, mini golf and an off-leash dog run.
The Petoskey RV resort in Michigan has cable TV, pool and hot tub, tennis courts, game room, and even a library for quieter moments.
Florida’s Azetc RV resort’s amenities reads like a first-class hotel: full-time staff, concierge service, business center, fitness room, putting green, lighted tennis courts, and two year-round spas and year-round pools.
How to find a glamping location
Visit glamping.com where the website lets you custom-tailor results to your own interests. KOA.com has a website that is reminiscent of booking a hotel stay, but also lets you choose from RV or glamping, or tent camping options.
The website gocampingamerica.com caters to RV and has a database maintained by the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds.!