Once upon a time, driving a Winnebago to a national park was a fancy camping trip. But in 2012, it’s nothing without a personal campsite butler.
Glamping, a portmanteau for “glamorous camping,” takes the great outdoors and adds indoor conveniences like air conditioning, private bathrooms and king-sized beds. High-end tents have long been a staple on safari trips in Africa and Asia, but the trend recently took hold in Europe and has made its way to the United States in the past few years. It even was the centerpiece of a recent episode of The Real Housewives of Orange County.
Thankfully, the typical glamper isn’t a reality-TV housewife whining about mosquitoes. Ruben Martinez, co-founder of travel site GlampingHub, says his customers are those who want to sleep under the stars, without having to sleep on the ground. “Typically people who visit our site are people who love the outdoors,” he says, “but they just don’t like the fact that they have to put up their own tent, or smell like campfire, or eat hot dogs.” Martinez adds that families and older travelers tend to gravitate toward the easier lifestyle of glamping, while still getting to experience nature. Many resorts promote the eco-friendly aspects of glamping, using sustainable construction and serving locally-sourced meals.
Glamping businesses range from small business owners with a single Mongolian-style yurt on their properties to vast resorts with dozens of high-class sleeping options. The prices are just as varied, though the appeal of many “glampsites” is their relatively low cost compared to a hotel. Some options set travelers back only $50 a night. Others offer more glam than camp, costing thousands of dollars for a multi-day stay, which can include horseback riding, skiing and fishing. And if guests want to camp like Real Housewives, many glamping sites have on-site spas. Sure beats sleeping bags.