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Not Really Roughing it

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If you are an outdoors-centric traveler and somehow not familiar with the term ‘glamping,’ well, you are late to the party—and it’s quite a party, indeed.

By Steve Habel

With “glamping,” or glamorous camping, there’s no fire to build, no tent to pitch and no sleeping bag to roll out on the hard ground. Instead, you’ll rest and relax surrounded by the amenities found in most luxury hotels, albeit underneath a huge, sturdy and, if desired, climate-controlled tent. The conveniences found at glamping destinations far exceed anything recreational campers experience.

Glamping is more than just a spotless window to the outdoors. It’s being in the woods or a meadow, or on the hilltop or beach and having the option of retreating to your tent for a little air conditioning, a shower and to check your email or catch up on Netflix via the included Wi-Fi. It’s not roughing it; it’s a way to experience the great outdoors without sacrificing luxury.

While the concept of glamping has been around since ancient times, the trend gets its most recent inspiration from British Colonial days, when wealthy families would employ huge staffs to carry treasured belongings while on safari or taking a holiday in some far-flung outpost. From electric generators to folding baths and cases of Champagne, those well-heeled travelers were afforded every domestic luxury while “getting away from it all.”

The number of international glamping options has skyrocketed since the word first came in vogue in 2005. Whether in a tent, yurt, Airstream trailer, pod, igloo, hut, villa, cabin, cube, teepee or treehouse, glamping focuses on a high level of service and the complete comfort of the guests.

Global hospitality providers, independently owned sites and mom-and-pop operations are pouncing on the demand of travelers who want to experience the positive aspects of camping without the uncomfortable negatives. Not many folks really want to deal with ants and mosquitoes and dirt and the ever-changing weather when they can jump into a clean, plush bed and not worry about what’s outside when the zipper is raised or the hatch is closed.

Austin Woman tested three local glamping sites offered at different price points and found the results to be suitably plush. (It’s a tedious job, but someone’s got to do it!) However, for those looking to really splurge, we suggest one particular spot offering the most enchanting

SINYA ON LONE MAN CREEK

Wimberley, Texas

It’s hard to imagine anyplace more romantic and isolated—in a good way—than Sinya on Lone Man Creek, an African safari tent for two nestled comfortably into the hillside on five and a half acres of Hill Country heaven just outside Wimberley.

Sinya’s owner, Lynn Gallimore, spent some time in Tanzania, and had the massive, high-roofed tent shipped from South Africa. It’s large enough for a king-size bed and an indoor restroom with an antique claw-foot tub. Replete with heating and air conditioning to control the climate, Sinya also offers Turkish towels to dry off following a soak in the Japanese hot tub just outside.

During the day at Sinya, named after an orphaned elephant in Kenya that Gallimore fosters, guests can swim in the creek, hike in the creek bed or fish by the dam, but Gallimore says most people just like to relax and hang out in the hammock or hot tub.

At the guest’s beck and call is a grill, plus a small kitchenette, complete with herbs and spices. Fresh, flowering plants, as well as spa bathrobes, s’mores fixin’s, firewood, propane gas and housekeeping are all included in the rental rate.

Rates start at $299 per night.

GREEN ACRES

Elgin, Texas

Just a half hour’s drive east of Austin off Highway 290 sits Green Acres, one of Texas’ newest glamping options. Established in June 2015 by a couple of selfdescribed city folk, Green Acres started with one Marrakesh-style yurt for rent and proved so popular, another artistically decorated yurt was added. Each yurt can fit a family of four, and smaller tents can be added to accommodate bigger parties.

Amenities include a modern bathhouse with a shower, washer and dryer, a fully equipped outdoor kitchen, vintage barn, hammocks and a fire pit perfect for making s’mores, the fixin’s for which are provided by Green Acres.

Guests can hike the getaway’s nature trails or try their skills on the trampoline and half-pipe skate ramp onsite. The property is the home to all kinds of animals with which guests can intermingle, including miniature donkeys, alpacas and cats.

Organic farms surround the “glampsite,” and there is no wireless access on the property, so guests should be prepared to truly unplug.

Rates start at $195 per night.

TEXAS BELL TENT

Spring Branch, Texas

Situated off Highway 281 in Spring Branch, about an hour southwest of Austin, Texas Bell Tent was erected on a custom deck that hangs on a ledge, capturing a long-distance view of the Texas Hill Country.

At 20 feet in diameter and 12 feet tall in the center, the tent is large enough to house a queen-size bed and twin daybed, and accommodate for an extra queen-size inflatable bed if needed. There is a private bathroom, including a sink, toilet and hot-water shower, and all bath towels, robes and linens are provided.

Custom picnic tables are set alongside the tent for great outdoor dining, and there’s a fire pit with utensils onsite for barbecuing and roasting s’mores. Complimentary coffee and specialty teas are provided for guests in the tent and with breakfast in the main house, which is nearby but not too close for comfort.

Rates start at $125 per night.

PAWS UP

Greenough, Montana

If you really want to get away and channel your inner explorer, Paws Up in Greenough, Mont., might just be the place for you. This resort is the ultimate in glamorous camping, a first-class adventure on a grand scale.

Paws Up is a sprawling 37,000-acre resort on a working cattle ranch in Western Montana, and offers varied lodging options, including Moonlight Camp, a collection of six safari-like tents that rest at the foot of Lewis and Clark’s famous Lookout Rock, just 100 yards from the Blackfoot River.

Moonlight Camp has an impressive array of glamping amenities, including the most plush, comfortable bed to ever wear sheets, private in-suite bathrooms and a sumptuous dining pavilion that serves haute, grilled cuisine.

Two-bedroom tents give guests the space they need, and there is no shortage of fun activities for kids and adults alike. How about a complimentary horse-drawn wagon ride, a trip through the woods on mountain bikes or an Old West-style scavenger hunt?

For those not interested in any of that, just a call away is the camping butler, who caters to guests’ every whim.

Rates start at $1,295 per night, based on double occupancy. 

 

Sinya photos by Craig Washburn and Al Argueta. Green Acres photo by Adam King. Photo courtesy of Murphy O’Brien. Texas Bell Tent photo by Leslie Sherbet. Paws Up photo courtesy of Paws Up.

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