By Bianca Alexander
My first camping experience was traumatic. I was ten years old on a school trip they called “inner quest,” a heroic coming of age in the middle of the Pennsylvania wilderness. Upon arrival, I pitched a small, nylon tent on hard, uneven ground with the help of my reluctant bunkmates: four giggly but intrepid fifth grade girls. The tent didn’t close; a loose ribbon on the exterior managed to keep peering eyes from seeing in but invited daddy long legs to hang in its damp, dark corners. Over campfire and gas pots, we cooked our own grub: oatmeal in the morning, dogs and beans for lunch, dry spaghetti with meatsauce for dinner. Bathing meant a muddy dip in a nearby lake while pre-pubescent boys pretended not to watch. For fun, we slipped into rainslickers and went spelunking through low lying caves. Horrified, I slithered on my stomach for hours in the dark passing slippery stalachtites and black slugs. Needless to say, I never went camping again.
Until I heard about glamping; i.e., glamorous camping.
When you’re glamping, there’s no tent to pitch, no sleeping bag to unroll, no fire to build. Whether in a tent, yurt, airstream, hut, villa or treehouse, glamping is a way to experience the best of the great outdoors without sacrificing luxury and comfort.
I first tried it with my husband Michael, who encouraged me to give camping a second chance with promises of a romantic getaway in a beautiful setting, comfortable queen size bedding in a spacious new tent with no spiders, plenty of hot showers and my favorite vegan cuisine. We even watched movies from the laptop. Far from traumatized, I actually felt a little spoiled, and to my surprise have returned many times since.
Over the last decade, glamping sites have grown in popularity with travelers looking for an authentic experience in nature without inconvenience. As such, this high level of service comes at a premium far beyond what traditional campers might expect to pay: anywhere from $30-$1,200 a night, depending on the amenities.
For inspiration, check out a few of the glamptastic destinations at the top of my wish-list:
1. Treehouse Point. If you’ve ever fantasized about living in a tree house, the dream can be yours with a visit to this Fall City, Washington getaway just 30 minutes from Seattle. Book a romantic stay in one of their five uniquely appointed treehouse cabins, perched high in the woods with the sound of the Raging Rivers underneath you. Or, rejuvenate your senses with yoga and a deluxe massage with the smell of cedar and fir tree enveloping you, beckoning you back to serenity.
2. Amani-i-Khás. Combining the Sanskrit word for ‘peace’ with the Hindi word for ‘special’, khás, India’s Aman-i-Khás offers luxury accommodations in ten full-appointed, air-conditioned tents located in a wilderness camp surrounded by the starkly beautiful Aravalli Hills. With amenities like sunken bathtubs, separate tents for gourmet dining and spa treatments, and daily wildlife spotting excursions to the 1,334 square kilometer Ranthambore National Park, guests want for nothing while enjoying the great outdoors.
3. Huvafen Fushi. Located in Maldives, Huvafen Fushi offers over 40 naturally modern glamping bungalows, each perched above a lagoon with a private beach and in-room fresh water plunge pool. Home to a 100% raw/organic restaurant, the world’s first indigenous underwater spa where guests can relax while enjoying kaleidoscopic views of stingrays, and eco-friendly coral regenerating expeditions with an in-house marine biologist, it’s no wonder this waking dream is one of the top glamping resorts in the world.
To book a stay at your favorite glamping destination, or for ideas on how to glam up your next camping trip, check out Glamping.com, Glampinghub.com, and if you don’t mind staying in another person’s glampsite, airbnb.com.