It’s not your father’s camping.
And if there is such a thing as glamour in camping, this is it. Ditch the pitching and step inside this tent—not exactly served on a silver platter, but set up on a wooden platform with all the comforts of home. Inside, you will find thick, comfy beds flanked by nightstands complete with table lamps, a ceiling fan, air conditioning, a refrigerator, microwave, a nearby private bathroom with shower and even Wi-Fi if Mom “remembers” to give the kids the access code.
They call it glamping, as in, glamour plus camping. Or glamorized camping. Either way, it’s the newest outdoor craze since s’mores, which, by the way, are delivered to glampers nightly along with a roaring campfire built by your tent-side 24-hour concierge. No need to search for kindling by flashlight in the woods; far fewer mosquito bites.
Ah, the great outdoors.
It seemed like a cute concept for the mom who loved the idea of spending time in nature with the kiddos without exactly roughing it. Not that I don’t know how. I’ve pitched a tent and roasted up supper with my Girl Scout troop with the best of them. But this was, after all, vacation. And if there is a hot new travel trend or a neat way to spend time with the family, I want to know about it. So, my three girls and I packed our knapsacks, left the metal mess kits at home, and gave glamping a try at Westgate River Ranch, a dude ranch in central Florida where glamping is catching on like a forest wildfire. In fact, the ranch—the largest dude ranch east of the Mississippi—plans to double the number of its brand new glamping tents this July.
Did we love it? Yes. Was it camping? Well, sort of.
The accommodations were of course comfortable. Not a tent did I pitch, nor a fire start, or a breakfast make. In fact, breakfast was waiting for us—warm cinnamon rolls, fresh fruit and delicious hot coffee—on our screened-in porch when we woke up, late.
The weather, as it always does when you camp, stunk. Why is that? But instead of getting soaked, I happily played Monopoly with the girls (remember, I forgot the Wi-Fi access code, hehe) in my air-conditioned tent while the pelt of rain drummed above our heads. At one time, all three girls bellied up on my king-size bed and talked about plans for high school, hopes for volleyball and a report on an upcoming birthday party. Instead of chopping wood or skinning fish or digging a hole in the woods, I happily (and dryly, I might add) listened against the thump thump thump of the driving rain.
That weekend, we went horseback riding through the countryside, learned how to country line dance at the saloon, tried mechanical bull riding, then watched the real thing at the Saturday night rodeo (amazing) with some fantastic trick riding and a moving tribute to the American flag. We were country. And far from the North Shore that weekend, for sure.
Glamping they call it, and a great crossover I say—especially if you are looking to get away, but want to dodge the work that may detract from the magic that can happen when you spend two nights in a tent with your daughters.
So if camping cramps your style, ditch the pitching and step inside this tent. Is it camping? No. But, in my book, it’s more than close enough.
Glamour plus camping equals all the comforts of home in the great outdoors. Your father’s camping? No. But, priceless just the same. Intrigued? Here are some more glamping spots we are hoping to check out soon:
- Kinnikinnick Farm, Caledonia, Ill.
- Blueberry Hill, Paoli, Ind.
- Paws Up, Greenough, Mont.
- Costanoa Lodge, Pescadero, Calif.
- Clayoquot Wilderness Resort, Vancouver Island
- Yellowstone Under Canvas, Yellowstone National Park
Watch Donna Bozzo talk glamping here.
Photos courtesy of Westgate River Ranch