A lot of people are turned off by the thought of camping because they’d prefer a comfortable stay over roughing it. That’s where glamping comes in. Luxury camping isn’t a new idea by any means, but the concept is breaking out into all types of distinct branches, from treehouses and pods, some more luxurious, others more rustic, etc. Today, MITF featured contributor Debi Lander from ByLanderSea, is here to tell us all about her experience on two very different glamping escapes, along with some glamping tips for baby boomers.
Have you tried Glamping?
As a child, I loved roughing it at girl scout camp for a few weeks in the summer. I slept on a cot in a platform tent and used, without complaint, a primitive latrine. But, as an adult, I became spoiled and abandoned the rustic conditions. Who wants the hassles of hiking uphill with a heavy backpack, pitching a tent or the discomfort of sleeping on an air mattress. Let’s just say my idea of camping evolved into a few nights at a park lodge.
What is Glamping?
Then, I heard of glamping- a contrived word meaning glamorous camping, as in a tent with the comforts of a real bed, fine linens, an ensuite or nearby bathroom and hotel amenities. An experience, akin to my imagined one in those expensive luxury African safari tents, but closer to home.
For travelers, glamping camps offer the up-close outdoor experience without the need to invest and haul equipment. No problem setting up the site or doing the chores. No more splinters, banged fingers or arguments over where to set up camp. However, bugs and temperatures can still be a problem.
Glamping Tips for Baby Boomers
Both glamping.com and glampinghub.com offer a comprehensive list of options. When searching these or other online glamping sites, be aware that they most frequently refer to tents. However, the term has expanded to include treehouses, yurts, tipis, igloos, cabooses, airstreams and even tiny houses. Make sure that any glamping locations have what you need. Some people prefer to rough it and a happy with a comfortable tent and a cot, others are looking for a nature-based stay, but with all of the comforts of a conventional B&B. For example, if you don’t want to make midnight jaunts to the outhouse, confirm that the accommodations have a private bathroom adjacent to the tent or at least closeby.
Now, I’ve gone glamping twice in a tent and loved it. (You may, however, recall my not so pleasant experience glamping in a tiny house in Scotland.)
Here’s my take on glamping:
My First Glamping Experience: Paint Bank, VA
On a trip through the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, I unexpectedly found myself spending a night in a glamping tent. Here I was, nestled in an ultra-comfy king-size bed that felt much more like a posh apartment than a large tent. This location resembled a movie set. I was curled up in rural Paint Bank, a tiny, postcard-perfect town comprised of a general store, gas station, depot lodge, fishing cabins and a herd of buffalo. The as yet undiscovered hamlet offers distinctive lodging escapes and outdoor adventures.
Paint Bank’s current population hovers around 42, but this landmark town located in the Potts Valley nearly died after the railroad left. Fortunately, Wall Street financier John Mulheren and wife Nancy gradually purchased properties and brought them back to life. They spared no expense, even bringing in a red caboose as overnight accommodation.
If you have any interest in fly fishing for rainbow trout, whitetail bow hunting, eastern gobbler hunting with a shotgun or bow, float trips on the Greenbrier River or simply escaping the city for a mountain retreat, head to Paint Bank. The scenic beauty of the area (near the West Virginia border) calms the soul. It’s truly breathtaking – and that’s without counting the herd of 200 bison and Oreo cows – Galloway Belted black cows with a broad band of white running around their bellies.
You can dine at the Swinging Bridge Restaurant, a rear addition to the General Store that incorporates indoor trees, a second-story rope bridge and a little brook running through it. Nancy Mulheren explained that the trees were constructed from foam, like many Disney imitations, but they fooled me. John wanted a creek for indoor fishing, but it turned into more a stream with taxidermied animals – think Bass Pro Shoppes displays. The homey-feeling restaurant serves mighty fine bison burgers and steaks from the herd raised down the road.
John and Nancy Mulheren stumbled upon the place back in 1986. John had big plans but unfortunately lost his life in 2003. Nancy continued in his memory and for their large family of adopted children, and now grandchildren. They consider Paint Bank a second home, and Nancy’s artistic touch is everywhere.
I stayed in the 5-star glamping creekside tent, complete with a top-of-the-line bathroom containing a separate toilet and shower enclosures. I also enjoyed a flat-screen TV, artwork on the walls, an array of reading material and a bottle of Champagne. A breakfast basket of goodies and thermos of coffee were delivered to my door in the morning. (It was pouring rain outside, but was snug and dry with hot coffee!)
I reveled in the luxurious tent but would have been equally impressed by a night in the authentic caboose or the cozily decorated 1909 depot lodge. There’s also a to-die-for fishing log cabin and the authentically refurbished 1967 Airstream “Land Yacht” Overlander Trailer. All incorporate antiques, period photos and modern accent pieces like the pages of a home interior design magazine.
Meander Paint Bank’s grounds and you’ll come by the renovated, partially working Tingler’s Mill. There’s plenty of grass for picnics and letting the kids run, or just sitting on porch rocking chairs passing the time. Swings and benches are located down by the river. A fascinating state-run fish hatchery rests nearby.
Although quirky, Paint Bank is a getaway that would more than please a variety of discerning boomers from day-trippers at the WV Greenbrier Resort to romantic couples or motorcycle and biking groups, hunting and fishing enthusiasts, family reunions or singles. And, best yet, it’s very affordable. A visit at fall foliage would be ideal.
Multi-Generational Glamping in the Finger Lakes, NY
My second glamping experience was a family affair, very different from Paint Bank, but equally as gratifying. My daughter and her two boys, my grandsons’ ages 8 and 10, and I were on a return road trip from Niagara Falls. Abby discovered FireLight Camps near Buttermilk Falls State Park in Ithaca on a lodging search and decided we should spend a night there. She made a great decision.
Our tent, built on an elevated wooden platform, included two queen size beds with, of course, comfy mattresses and smooth cotton sheets. A small desk and end tables adorned the interior space. In the rear, a private tented balcony with two Adirondack chairs overlooked the woods. We found a battery-operated lantern and flashlights for nighttime.
Unlike the Paint Bank tent, the bathrooms in Ithaca sat in a building at the top of a small hill. The bathhouse included private stalls with regular flush toilets and individuals shower rooms, all very clean and well maintained.
The registration desk rests within the huge lobby tent, an area with a number of sofas, chairs, rugs, and plenty of reading material and games. Never fear, they have Wi-Fi and cables/outlets available for charging your devices. An excellent addition is the bar- – yes, a bar that remains open until 11 pm. They carry a great stock of local artisan beers, ciders and wine.
We arrived in the afternoon and were drawn to the bocce ball court where we held our own tournament. Abby and I then meandered into the lobby tent for the complimentary 5 pm happy hour cider tasting. The boys switched to playing a game of corn hole.
We hadn’t brought supplies for dinner (the camp offers charcoal grills), so instead, we drove into town and ate in a restaurant. However, we remembered to save room for dessert around the campfire.
We all roasted marshmallows and ate smores along with some of the other guests. The children immediately bonded, as kids do, and ran around together, giving the adults time to chat by the firelight. Fireflies lite up the meadows and a starry sky added to the relaxation and memories being made. We were further blessed with moderate temperatures, perfect camping weather.
I made sure to limit my water intake so I wouldn’t have to walk all that way to the toilet during the night. Not a huge complaint, but certainly an inconvenience, however, far from those girl scout latrines. By the way, some camp lights are motion activated for added safety for those moving about after dark.
- Guests can take advantage of the spa or yoga classes at the resort, or explore the vineyards and hiking trails of the Finger Lakes region, dubbed “Napa East.”
- In-tent massages are available with advance notice.
- The camp maintains quiet hours from 11 pm to 8 am, so no loud bachelor parties or the like.
- Continental breakfast in the morning includes hot coffee, tea and an array of luscious, home-baked muffins and breads. A bowl of local fruit (berries), yogurts and cereals were available.
All in all, I was delighted by my nights in the glamping tents and would encourage you to consider the possibility, especially if they are offered in a national or state Park.
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