TO MANY PEOPLE, the words “glamour” and “camping” don’t belong in the same sentence — an oxymoron, some might say, that only a moron would think could actually be combined, right?
Well, it appears there’s a lot of morons out there because “glamping” — a portmanteau of glamorous and camping — is the hottest new holiday trend thanks to the post-pandemic concerns over social distancing and the desire, by mostly millennials, to connect with nature without giving up the comforts of home.
In fact, a recent study conducted by Kampgrounds of America discovered that 43 per cent of leisure travellers surveyed say spending time outdoors is now more important as a result of the pandemic.
So, welcome to glamping.
For the uninitiated, glamping is camping with amenities such as beds, electricity and access to indoor plumbing — items not usually the norm when camping in the great outdoors in a simple tent.
While modern glamping started to gain popularity among in 2013, the activity actually dates back to the 1100s when rich Europeans, mostly the aristocratic English, would bundle up much of their household belongings, including the silverware, linens and maids, and take them all on safari to Africa.
Luxury holiday companies have been offering extreme glamping holidays for years and they top many peoples’ bucket lists. Some of the most expensive glamping experiences even come with a butler and chefs. The high-end versions also feature en-suite bathrooms, a traditional king or queen-sized bed and wood-burning stoves.
Above: Glamping, a portmanteau of glamorous and camping, offers heat and soft beds, unlike traditional camping.
One company that has been specializing in upscale glamping for over 30 years is &Beyond, a luxury travel brand that offers some of the most expensive and opulent tent experiences in the world.
One of &Beyond’s most popular trips is to Kenya’s iconic Masai Mara National Reserve at the foot of the scenic Oloololo escarpment near the Great Rift Valley. For $725 U.S. per person, per night, guests get to stay in one of nine elegant tents that are serviced by private butlers and come with hardwood floors, polished silver, copper bathtubs, handcrafted artefacts, fine antiques, leather buttoned sofas and crystal chandeliers.
Guests also get to enjoy delectable cuisine served under the stars along with twice-daily game drives, including spot-lit night drives.
There’s no charge for the incredible wildlife experience you’ll enjoy, which at certain times of the year in the Oloololo escarpment includes the seasonal great Wildebeest Migration.
Above: High-end glamping companies offer modern bath facilities and maid service.
A new entry into the upsacle glamping field is Quebec-based Bel Air Tremblant Resort & Residernces. Their new luxury glamping domes dot the company's 543 acre wilderness site near Mont-Tremblant and offer some luxury amenities like an onsite spa and some spectacular zen interiors.
Ordinary glamping tents come in various sizes and cost anywhere between a few hundred to thousands of dollars. They are usually made of durable canvas materials that last between 10 and 15 years and are supported by a series of interior wooden polls that are easy to assemble.
Glamping tents borrow much of their technology from yurts, which Mongolians have been using since the reign of Genghis Khan. The sturdy yurts shelter the Mongolians from the fierce winds that sweep across their grasslands and are easily moved from place-to-place by the wandering tribesmen.
While the pandemic has completely changed attitudes towards spending more time in the great outdoors and distancing from other people, modern travellers are still reluctant to give up modern conveniences. Hence, the popularity of glamping.
Above: Glamping is especially popular with the younger, female set looking for some soft adventure.
Glamping has become so popular, it’s even inspired the creation of an online marketplace company, Tentrr, which helps people find suitable sites all over the world.
Tentrr, the Airbnb of camping, started out as a niche company in 2016 but, thanks mostly to the growth in demand since the start of the pandemic, they have expanded to 860 locations in 42 U.S. states.
The United Kingdom offers the most glamping sites in the world and demand is expected to only increase in 2022 as more travellers opt for staycations.
According to industry sources in the U.K., four in every 10 residents have enjoyed a glamping holiday in the past few years and 21 million people are expected to pitch a holiday tent at British sites in 2022.
Not surprisingly, many enterprising Brits, especially those with homes in remote rural areas close to coastlines, national forests and mountains, have converted their fields and backyards into glamping grounds to reap some of the benefits from the almost $7 billion a year business.
Canada, thanks to its natural beauty and abundance of national parks, has become a favourite with the glamping set. British Columbia and Alberta top the glamping wish list, but Ontario’s Cottage Country and Quebec’s Gaspé and Mont-Tremblant regions offer many glamping locations, as well.
Above: Glamping camps are even turning up in the middle of deserts.
According to the Luxury Travel Expert, an online company that rates glamping sites around the world, their No. 1 pick is Cambodia’s Shinta Mani Wild. It offers 15 luxurious “tents” that overlook waterfalls and lush rain forest and are jammed with creature comforts that rival a 5-star hotel room.
Even luxury hotel chains, like Four Seasons Resorts, are well established in the glamping business. Four Season’s Golden Triangle tented camp in Thailand, for instance, is the second most beautiful glamping site in the world, according to the Luxury Travel Expert.
For more information on:
&Beyond's complete luxury lineup, go to https://www.andbeyond.com
Bel Air Tremblantt: https://belairhoteltremblant.com
About the Author
Marc Atchison is a veteran journalist and a seasoned traveller with more than 20 years of travel writing experience. As the former Travel Editor of the Toronto Star, Canada's largest newspaper, and now Editor-in-Chief and Senior Writer for TraveLife magazine (Canada) and travelife.ca, Marc has been to over 100 countries in the world. Japan is one of his favorite destinations and he's been there on numerous occasions.