No Tent Required

This story appears in the Summer 2014 issue of Eidé Magazine. Read it here, or click to read it in the issue below.

Story by Christina Montford and Tova Gelfond 

We're a society that wants crustless bread, fatless peanut butter, lineless entertainment. We want the toned body without the situps and hi-res downloads without the buffering. We are a first-world-problems collective of hypocritical oaths. So it’s perfectly reasonable to have the camping without the bug spray, tents, lantern or mud. We will glamp, my dear friends. We will glamp, indeed.

Glamping, the self-proclaimed “glamourous camping” experience, is a real thing. It’s not something Ron Swanson would approve of, but it has taken root in the once-rustic home for wilderness admirers — and it’s thriving. Hundreds of real estate and travel developers around the world are throwing money into these new luxury camping destinations, and people are coming out in droves.

While the camping purist finds the act of associating air conditioning and luxuriously cooked entreés with the word camping distasteful, it can be argued this method of camp-meets-resort destination allows the wilderness-averse a chance to commune with nature on their terms.

This experience might be cutting-edge to “The Real Housewives” crowd, but glamping originated overseas decades ago with impressive digs in Africa and Thailand. Today, with hundreds of sites in the United States alone, you can go as bare bones or as Marie Antoinette as you’d like, and venture almost anywhere in the world. Most destinations boast lodgings resembling five-star hotel rooms rather than rudimentary tents. And yes, you can have your tent air conditioned.

Websites such as Glamping Hub and Cool Camping are designed specifically to help you sort through the thousands of glamping sites to find one ideal for your optimum level of glam and the size of your wallet. “You get all the positives and none of the negatives, such as sleeping on the ground and being stuck in the rain, when you go glamping,” says co-founder of Glamping Hub, Ruben Martinez.

The lavish Clayoquot Wilderness Resort on Vancouver Island, for instance, has cabins equipped with remote-controlled propane fire- places, composting toilets and oil lamps — all yours if you have a spare $4,474 laying around for a three-night stay. These types of destinations are a perfectly luxe place for first-time campers or the high-maintenance traveler with a penchant for the outdoors. It’s simply not your daddy’s campgrounds.

And now a new wave of consumer is buying into the glamping world: festivalgoers. In the warmer months, 20-somethings shed their winter skins and Netflix-induced comas, and trek to venue after venue during festival season. From March to late September, three-day music festivals pop up all around the country hosting an opportunity to sleep under the stars with thousands of like-listening folks. Traditionally hardcore music festival attendees go rustic for the duration of the event and camp out in two-person tents with no electricity, adjacent to abysmal port-a-potties.

Recently, festivals like Bonnaroo, CounterPoint and TomorrowWorld have begun to offer attendees a glamping option starting upwards of $800. For just a few hundred dollars more than a general ticket, you can have a safe that locks, hot showers, a place to charge your phone and a bed to rest your head at the end of a day of raging and body bumping in a sea of sweaty peers. What would Woodstock-goers think?

Though naysayers hold that glamping cannot compare to camping — that you don’t get that same woodsy feel or outdoor experience — there’s no reason to pick one over the other (except maybe price). Glamping in yurts, a portable dwelling or hut, “is the perfect compromise for couples where one loves to camp but the other does not,” says Kim Hatcher, public affairs coordinator for Georgia State Parks and Historic Sites. “In a cabin or hotel-style lodge room you can have the comfort of home, yet beautiful park scenery and recreation right outside your door.”

Even the most hardcore traditionalist would find it difficult not to enjoy the indulgent mixture of nature and comfort that glamping offers. “People go glamping because no two glamp sites are exactly the same,” Martinez says. “And after they enjoy one site they can move on to the next — there is always another adventure waiting.”