Deciding where to go glamping can prove problematic for group leaders, since the trend has grown worldwide.
“There is not a continent that doesn’t offer glamping,” said Clark. “Even in Antarctica, you can stay in an ice hotel or an igloo hotel.”
Clark mentioned Portugal as an emerging glamping destination with tepees and yurts near big cities but still secluded. South America has become another glamping hot spot with almost every country boasting numerous luxury camping options. Argentina’s Patagonia region and Ecuador offer numerous upscale tents, huts and tree houses for travelers.
Austin Adventures recently capitalized on South America’s glamping potential by creating the Best of Peru Inca Trail Glamping itinerary. Instead of a fixed camp like those popular in Africa, the tour provides a mobile glamping experience so the camp moves down the Inca Trail along with the group.
“The Peru trip’s glamping experience is over the top because there are four porters for every guest,” said Austin. “We’re packing the camp and moving with the tour. We have massage therapists on the program. We also have a dining tent and hot showers. You are only limited by your imagination with glamping.”
Participants hike past the Andes and Incan cities and up to Machu Picchu during the day, and then retire to their safari-style tents in the evening. Gourmet meals on white linen tablecloths will make groups forget they are even camping.
Groups have their pick not only of destinations but also of level of luxury. Glamping sites can be as simple as a yurt with a wood-burning stove in the mountains.
“Price points for glamping can be very, very low,” said Clark. “That doesn’t mean it’s not luxury; it just means that’s what luxury means to you. You also have some places to go glamping that are the same price as a suite in a city hotel. It’s such a broad range.”
One of the most upscale glamping destinations in the United States is the Resort at Paws Up. States there come with a long list of amenities: ensuite bathrooms with heated flooring, double vanities, hot tubs, electricity and turn-down service.
“Our tents are really outfitted at the very, very high end,” said John Romfo, director of sales and marketing for the Resort at Paws Up. “In the world of glamping, everyone has their own definition of what luxury is. We have really focused on the luxury part. They are basically five-star hotel rooms that use canvas instead of walls.”
Groups worried about the price such accommodations can save money by choosing a tepee at a site such as Moab Under Canvas. Its tepees offer camp cots, mattress padding, bedding, towels, chairs and lanterns but fewer frills. Groups at Moab Under Canvas can choose their level of comfort with on-site glamping options including tepees, safari tents, deluxe sites and suites.
“We have tepees that have cots and foam pads to deluxe suites that have their own sofas and restrooms,” said Cole. “So you kind of get the whole gamut of the glamping experience here.”
Superior views and a secluded location are other key ingredients a luxury glamping experience. The Resort at Paws Up sits along the legendary Blackfoot River, and Moab Under Canvas is near Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park.
Special considerations come into play when a travel planner books a group at a glamping site. Group leaders should first talk with potential participants to see if luxury camping sounds appealing to them.
“I think what group leaders need to look for first and foremost is whether most of the people who are going to be traveling will be open to that type of experience,” said Clark with Glamping.com. “Second, they should ask, is it a destination with enough to do to entertain the group?”
Glamping sites often offer activity packages to make sure visitors make the most of the location. Westgate River provides easy ways for groups to explore the outdoors.
“You are literally steps away from the Florida Trail, which is the original cattle trail,” said Waltrip of Westgate Resorts. “We have horseback riding, swamp buggy tours, cattle drives and kayaking. So we have a variety of ways people can hike, boat and ride through the local wilderness.”
The resort also offers varied dining packages, which can prove to be an important glamping component. Dining at glamping sites can range from simple fare to gourmet cuisine.
Some sites, like the Resort at Paws Up, include meals in the nightly rate. Where groups eat depends on which of the five glamping campsites they have booked.
“In each camp, there is a private dining room just for that camp called a dining pavilion,” said Romfo. “They have their own chef, dining pit and lounging area, so it’s really quite comfortable. Groups can play by day, then come together and have a really unique dining experience before retreating back to their tents in the evening.”
Described as “refined rustic ranch,” the resort’s food fare ranges from baby back ribs with chipotle barbecue sauce to locally picked huckleberries atop French toast. Because the Resort at Paws Up keeps more than 20 tents at each campsite, a group leader can book part or all of the tents in one camp to keep the group together.
The resort’s ability to cater to larger groups is an important factor for group leaders. Many glamping sites do not offer adequate accommodations for larger groups.
Sites like Moab Under Canvas can easily work with a number of different types of groups because of the size and variety of accommodations available.
“For groups, we can get creative with our layout and accommodations,” said Cole. “The largest group we have done was a wedding with 130 people.”
Despite the considerations involved in glamping with a group, the activity lends itself to group travel because of its mass appeal.
“With glamping, people who wouldn’t normally consider themselves campers would like it, and people who would consider themselves campers would also like it. So it bridges a lot of markets,” said Waltrip of Westgate Resorts. “The thing that makes glamping the most special is that there are no TVs. People are not being bombarded by electronics. They are out there interacting with their neighbors and nature.”