By Beth Herman
Love camping but catatonic when thinking about last summer’s (and the summer before, and the one before that) vacation to yet another busy beach, muddy mountain range, nest of national parks and monuments or dizzying Disney facsimile? Does the thought of days (weeks?!) in an RV teeming with infant symphonies and toddler tirades, or being held hostage in a leaky tent with the double and triple decibel demands and bored battle cries of a raging teenager, make you want to twist and shout (necks and obscenities)?
This summer, and with all due respect to both the Chuck E. Cheese generation and the ring-nosed complainers they all too soon become, why not leave them to their own devices and try out some of your own. With doting grandparents or computer camp only too willing to placate your kids with cookies or, well, the other kind of cookies, a week or two for the two of you might be just what the pharmacist ordered. And if you love the outdoors, why give that up?
Glamping, a confluence of the traditional get-out-your-mosquito-repellent genre, glamorized by upscale flourishes such as luxe fabrics and furnishings, chandeliers and antiques, four poster beds, radiant heat (depending on where and in what season you go), camping concierges, locally-sourced/gourmet food prepared by celebrated chefs, spa treatments and more – all served up tent-style, just may put the pamper in camper. And for hardcore outdoor enthusiasts who prefer punishment over pleasure (pass the 30-lb. backpack, honey), drinking the Kool-Aid mimosa will make a card-carrying convert out of you.
At Goleta, California’s El Capitan Canyon, which bills itself as “nature lodging on the California coast,” thick canvas tents (there are also cabins) come with electric lighting, skylights, comforters, willow beds and outdoor kitchen space featuring firepits. Just 20 miles north of Santa Barbara, the beach nearby awaits, as do nightly deliveries of ground beef and s’mores (for a fee). http://www.elcapitancanyon.com
In Montana’s Blackfoot Valley, 30 miles east of Missoula, The Resort at Paws Up – sited on a former cattle ranch – boasts 37,000 acres of hiking and horseback riding trails, not to mention a cadre of camping butlers and turn down service in platform tents. King feather beds framed by soothing art from the owners’ collection make deep, sweet sleep definitely not optional, with steam showers and heated slate floors to take your morning only slightly south of magical (it’ll get there at breakfast, prepared from regional delicacies like bison and wild berries). In-tent spa treatments and massages mitigate the effects of days spent kayaking or river rafting on the property. http://www.pawsup.com
Near Tofino, British Columbia, accessible by floatplane from Vancouver, B.C., Clayoquot Wilderness
Resort‘s “tents” feature remote-controlled propane fireplaces, antique furniture, plush bedding, eco toilets in cedar outbuildings and meals served on fine china. After all, after a taxing day of bear or whale watching, or maybe salmon fishing or horseback riding, who wouldn’t want to kick back and simply be served. http://www.wildretreat.com
If going abroad is your objective, Camping Le Pianacce, in Tuscany, lands you in a luxury safari-style tent with views of the Mediterranean. Near Marina di Castagneto beach, abundant fruit and pine trees guild the property. An LED TV, four-burner induction cook stove, veranda and deluxe canopy bed make Le Pianacce a celestial experience in a heavenly locale, one in fact where children are encouraged if your trip-de-deux might start to feel more like a guilt trip at that (bunk beds and multiple swimming pools are sure to entice them). http://www.campinglepianacce.it/
While some glamping experiences include Wi-Fi and cell phone coverage, many do not, so it’s always best to check ahead for those whose techno-demons cannot be slayed at the door. Additionally, the price of glamping and all of its toys can vary widely, ranging from a couple of hundred dollars per night to several thousand. Websites such as http://www.goglamping.net, http://www.glamping.com and http://www.glampinghub.com can help you sift through it all. Charred weiner, anyone?