Glamping 101: What is “glamorous camping,” exactly?


glamping - photo courtesy of Paws Up

For some, travel is about the adventure – the thrill of seeing new places, the draw of different foods, cultures and activities. Accommodations are simply a place to sleep – budgets are best spent on experiences. I am not one of those travelers.

While all travel experiences have a purpose – business, pleasure, relaxation, a show or specific attraction – all travel, at least for this writer, has the draw of a new home away from home.

Not every hotel or lodging experience can be, or should be expected to be, five-star. But if you’re going to get this writer out into the wilderness, there had better at least be hot water and a functional bathroom.

This explains how I first heard about the term “glamping,” or “glamorous camping.” It turns out, there was such a thing, and it didn’t involve an RV or high heels, Paris Hilton in The Simple Life-style.

Simply put, glamping is a term coined that encompasses outdoor wilderness experiences that are somewhere between a hotel and a traditional campsite. Sure, you’ll sleep in tents, tipis or yurts, but they often have real beds with plush mattresses and en-suite running water.

Although glamping has been derided by hardcore campers and snubbed by some luxury travelers who say they’d “never camp,” the idea has been embraced by many who see the eco-friendly benefits of camping and the budgetary advantages to mixing a traditionally free activity with a more luxe vacation.

Glamping can take place anywhere in the world – usually the more picturesque, the better. Campsites and lodges have opened around the world, usually in locations that have natural attractions to recommend them, including Africa, Australia, and my own recent experience, on the edge of Montana’s Blackfoot River in the newly-opened Pinnacle Camp at Paws Up Resort (shown above).
%Gallery-129797%Here, tents came complete with heated slate floors, towel and sheet warmers, Wi-Fi and a camping butler who served dishes like seared sirloin in Romanesco sauce and huckleberry French Toast. The only cooking I was doing involved roasting some s’mores over a fire (built by our handy butler) … but getting closer to the wilds of nature might not have been possible.

Just feet outside the tent, birds chattered, gophers and marmots frolicked, and fawns sprang around the pasture like overeager rabbits. An eagle soared overhead, trout jumped in the river below, and the air took on a crisp, still quality sweetened with meadow grasses and the fresh, clean smell of unpolluted air.

It may be luxe but it was still nature in its purest, finest form, respected by guests who spent evenings bonding around a campfire, swapping stories while their children ran and played below.

What does one do while glamping? The same thing they’d do while camping or at summer camp. In Africa, the activity of choice is often a safari, but at Paws Up, guests can choose from activities like cattle drives, clay shooting, nature hikes and fly fishing. The emphasis is on family togetherness (most all activities can be done by children 12 and over, and nearly all guests were families) and on learning experiences that take place in the outdoors. Guides for all activities focused equally on fun and education.

Despite the glamorous title, I still felt like I was camping … albeit a lot more comfortably. There wasn’t anything cheap about it – rates for camps start at $820 per night in peak season at Paws Up – but that rate did include airport transfers and three gourmet, multi-course meals for two adults daily.

Stay tuned … I’ll be bringing dispatches in the coming days about cattle driving, the best places for you to get your “glamp” on and more.

The author’s stay was provided courtesy of Paws Up Resort, but her opinions are solely her own.