BY KATHLEEN M. MANGAN
Wilderness goes upscale.
Wilderness and outdoor experiences don’t have to mean roughing it or investing in camping equipment. Glamping (glamorous camping) resorts offer travelers everything from safari tents and bubble pods to treehouses and igloos with such refinements as duvet-covered beds, antique furniture and wood stoves. Guests can be warm, dry and comfortable while watching wildlife, viewing the Northern Lights or birding in a treetop canopy. Best of all, glamping sites are often in remote spots where permanent structures might be impossible, so they give glampers easier access to bucket-list destinations and outdoor adventures. Here are some stand-out glamping options around the world.
California: Sequoia High Sierra Camp
The one-mile hike into this camp within Sequoia National Park launches your outdoor adventure with a walk among majestic trees. With an environmentally sensitive ethos, the camp has 32 timber-framed canvas cabins sited on old logging trails with views of Kings Canyon (thanks to its elevation of 8,282 feet). Tent interiors are lighted by lanterns and boast artisan furniture, luxe bedding and wool rugs.
The main attraction is the giant sequoias, among the planet’s tallest trees at more than 250 feet. Area hiking trails take in these natural wonders, and there’s a shuttle return from the eight-mile downhill Sheep Creek Trail to Cedar Grove at the base of Kings Canyon. Evening dining features five-course gourmet meals and wine served al fresco.
Season: June 9 to September 15; $250 per person, per night, including all meals; two-night minimum. sequoiahighsierracamp.com
Washington: TreeHouse Point
This property with six unique treehouses for grownups in Snoqualmie Valley was featured on the Animal Planet series Treehouse Masters. Each comfortably furnished wooden construction is reached by bridge or natural wood staircase. Some have sleeping lofts and balconies, and all provide air conditioning.
While in the area, visit the 268-foot-high Snoqualmie Falls, and float the Snoqualmie River on an inner tube. At night, brown marshmallows over the fire pit before taking to the trees.
Season: Year-round; $300 per night, including breakfast; two-night minimum. treehousepoint.com
British Columbia, Canada: Clayoquot Wilderness Resort
Tucked within the UNESCO Clayoquot Sound Biosphere Reserve, this eco-conscious resort on Vancouver Island is so remote that you have to take a float plane or boat plus a horse-drawn wagon to get there. It has 25 prospector-style tents with antique furnishings, duvet-covered beds, cast-iron stoves, bathrooms with heated floors, and outdoor cedar showers. Most are along the waterfront.
Go whale-watching or black bear watching, rappel from Sitka spruce trees, try a rock-climbing route, or fish for Coho salmon. On-site helicopters take guests sightseeing over the rainforest as well as heli-fishing and heli-hiking. The Healing Grounds Spa restores the soul, while gourmet coastal cuisine served with British Columbia wines restores the body.
Season: May 16 to September 15; from $4,500 per person for a three-night all-inclusive package. wildretreat.com
Sweden: Treehotel Sweden
In the pine forests of northern Sweden’s Lapland are modern design-focused treehouses, each created by one of Scandinavia’s leading architects. Mirrorcube is made of reflective glass. The enormous Bird’s Nest is made of woven sticks. And UFO is made of composite materials. All have Lule River and valley views, under-floor heating, eco-friendly bathrooms and Wi-Fi.
Seeing the Northern Lights is a bucket-list experience here, seen on clear nights from September to March from most of the treehouses. There are specialized Northern Lights viewing tours by snowmobile, too. Other winter activities include dogsledding, sleigh rides and Sami (also known as Laplander) cultural tours. Summer activities include whitewater rafting, moose safaris and bear-spotting adventures.
Season: Year-round; $475 per night, double occupancy. treehotel.se/en
Ireland: Mayo Horsedrawn Caravan Holidays
Clip-clop along County Mayo’s one-lane roads in one of nine caravans pulled by Cob horses. Based on the traditional round-topped design used by gypsy travelers, each caravan sleeps four people and comes with a kitchenette. The caravan stops in a different farmyard each night in a dedicated area with electrical hookups and bathroom facilities. There’s always a pub within walking distance.
Take in the scenery at your horse’s pace, passing the atmospheric Ballintubber Abbey with arched cloisters dating to 1216, the restored Eviction Cottage in Belcarra, ruined 13th-century Burriscarra Abbey and Doonamona Castle.
Season: June 1 to September 7; $600 for three nights’ lodging for up to four people. horsedrawncaravan.com
Iceland: Buubble, The Five Million Star Hotel
When you sleep in a clear plastic bubble in Iceland, you have unobstructed views of the Northern Lights and the night sky from the comfort of your bed. A stay in one of nine private, inflatable bubbles at this unparalleled hotel is included in two one-day tours departing from Reykjavik.
The Golden Circle tour stops at Thingvellir National Park, Geyser hot springs, Gullfoss Waterfall and Secret Lagoon before arriving at the Buubble property. The South Coast tour stops at Seljalandsfoss and Skogafoss Waterfalls, plus the Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach. The last stop is the Buubble hotel for night sky gazing before nodding off. The best time to see the aurora borealis here is September to March.
Season: Year-round; $490 per person. buubble.com
Europe: Feather Down
Stays on any of the 68 Feather Down working farms across the U.K. and Europe start with a tour of the dairy, sheep or goat farm. You can even request a private bunny or chicken for your child to care for during your stay. Lodging might include log cabins, chalets or large canvas tents that sleep up to 10 people. They have beds with duvets, seating and dining areas, private toilets, wood stoves and oil lanterns, and some even have hot tubs. Not all the farm lodgings are equipped with electricity and/or hot water.
Season: April 1 through October 31; some farm log cabins are available year-round; from $260 per night, two-night minimum. featherdown.co.uk
Finland: Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort
This one-of-a-kind resort 150 miles north of the Arctic Circle in Finnish Lapland features glass igloos for prime viewing of the Northern Lights. Available in two sizes, the glass igloos have heat, electricity, toilets and comfortable beds. Alternatively, there are snow igloos with down sleeping bags as well as log cabins, some of which can be combined with a glass sleeping igloo for added luxury.
Winter activities include reindeer-pulled sleds, dog-sledding, snowmobile safaris, snow tank trips, aurora hunting by horse-drawn sleigh and an icebreaker cruise. During summer’s midnight sun, there’s plenty of time for gold panning, husky hiking, horseback riding, a Sami cultural experience, a reindeer farm visit and canoeing.
Season: Glass igloos, August 19 to April 30 for Northern Lights season; snow igloos, end of December to March; and resort, June through April. Glass igloos from $480 per night, double occupancy, including breakfast and dinner. kakslauttanen.fi
Bali: Sandat Glamping Tents
Eco-friendly thatched and woven open-air structures as well as fanciful tents provide a symphony of bird song and crickets chirping in the lush ecosystem. Nestled among rice terraces in the highlands of Ubud, this boutique property’s design utilizes local craftsmanship and natural materials such as bamboo. Three traditional thatched cottages have a second-floor sleeping loft and balcony, while five luxury tents have private plunge pools; all have four-poster beds and garden views.
Book a Balinese massage on your private outdoor terrace or a yoga class. An on-site restaurant encourages guest interaction with one long table. It’s a short hop into Ubud to take in music, dance, crafts, galleries and festivals.
Season: Year-round; $117 per night, double occupancy, including breakfast and afternoon tea. glampingsandat.com
Belize: Hamanasi Adventure & Dive Resort
Belize has 603 bird species, and the best way to spot these exotic flyers is from a treehouse balcony 12 feet up in the jungle canopy at this eco-property. Set in a private nature reserve on the south coast, the resort boasts 8 spacious treehouses made of sustainable wood, 10 deluxe treehouses with a Jacuzzi on the deck, and 12 beachfront cottages.
Guests have easy access to the rainforest wildlife and Mayan ruins as well as the offshore reef ecosystem. Take a night hike in the Cockscomb Basin Jaguar Preserve, or go on a birding tour or jungle river canoe trip. Snorkeling the barrier reef and scuba diving along reef walls and at the Blue Hole all reveal colorful discoveries.
Season: Year-round; from $387 per night, double occupancy, including breakfast; minimum stay three to six nights depending on the dates. hamanasi.com
There’s a lot of variation in the types of accommodation at glamping sites and in the services provided, including whether the stay option has electricity, toilet, shower, hot water or heat. They all have proper beds, so you don’t have to wriggle into a sleeping bag. It depends on to your definition of glamour when it comes to camping; for some, it might be seeing the stars from your bed or sleeping in the treetops.
Your AAA Travel agent can help you choose.Read more articles Find a Travel Agent