Features / Camping vs. glamping

Glamping: From luxury tents to elephant rides

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You’re lying in your tent, a little thirsty.

If you throw on your boots and head to the pot of purified water by the fire pit — you’re camping.

If you ring the bell on your beside table and ask the butler for a wine spritzer — you’re glamping.

“Glamping,” “glamorous” meets “camping,” is the kind of vacation that straddles two worlds: the rugged outdoors and keep-your-hands-clean comfort of home.

“The idea started when the British would go down to Africa for Safari’s and they would have their big luxurious canvas tents, pack a bed,” said Ruben Martinez, co-founder of GlampingHub.com. “To the best of our knowledge, that’s what the idea started and over the last few years the trend has grown.”

Sometimes, the difference between camping and glamping is little: a canvas tent and a real bed, versus nylon and a bedroll. But most anything can be “glamping” if it’s not a traditional house, hotel, RV or cabin and provides immediate access to nature.

“These places keep popping up,” Martinez said. “They range from relatively simple tents, tree houses, yurts to the really extravagant.”

How extravagant?

“Some of these places have butlers, they have wine service, fantastic views, king-sized bed—you name it,” he said. “Some of these places can be pretty ridiculous.”

One of Canada’s most glamorous is the Clayoquot Wilderness Resort.

“We’re in the heart of Clayoquot Sound in the middle of the UNESCO world bioshpere,” Katherine MacRae, director of marketing for the resort. “We’re 40 minutes by boat to the closest town and there’s no road access.”

The all-inclusive resort includes the seaplane trip from Vancouver, locally sourced five-course meals with wine pairings and activities.

“We have world-class salmon fishing out here, horseback riding is one of our big adventures,” said MacRae, adding there’s also a spa, hiking, skeet shooting, kayaking, archery, rock climbing and paintball.

MacRae says her resort was the original North American tented Safari. An all-inclusive tent for two costs costs $9,500 for three nights.

Canada has its fair share of yurts, but glamorous camping is worldwide.

At the Four Seasons Tented Camp Golden Triangle in Thailand, you’ll arrive riding an elephant to your tent, which is billed as “reminiscent of 19th-century adventure expeditions with handcrafted furniture, hardwood floors and traditional thatched roofs.”

From there, you eat fine Thai dining, go to the spa, swim in one of the pools or go on an excursion.

Prices fluctuate, but three nights for two guests in January 2014 will cost more than $10,000 for the “superior” tent, more for the “deluxe.”

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