Sunday, June 24, 2007

Glamping - the next big thing?

Queen Charlotte Sound - a popular "glamping" location in NZ

So I was on the internet "resarching" (that is, procrastinating) and came across this article about "Glamping" - a term I've never heard before. Apparently it's all about putting some glamour into camping - deluxe camping I suppose.

From the looks of the article, this new term is a tactic to get more women interested in camping holidays. If it sounds fabulous and decadent, supposedly women will like it more. As a non-glam camper, I actually find that a bit offensive. I'm perfectly happy to cook my own meals, carry my own gear and get to the beautiful vistas on my own power, thanks. I don't need to pay someone else hundreds of dollars per day to make it easier on me.

On the other hand, I understand that not everyone feels like I do. Luxury wilderness adventures are not new. One visit to the century-old hunting lodges in Africa will tell you that. The well-to-do have always been interested in seeing "wild" places, without having to suffer for it. Today, Africa remains a popular place to rough it in style, along with the Galapagos Islands, the Incan ruins of Chile, and increasingly Antarctica. Even here in New Zealand, luxury hunting and fishing lodges offer fly-in service, while some of the country's most popular trails can be covered with ease as your gear is transported for you from lodge to lodge by boat. It's all of the gorgeous scenery, with a fraction of the discomfort.

I have nothing against the five-star option. I think it's great that even people who are not interested in toughing it out, are interested in areas of natural beauty. After all, those people are the ones with the money and the power to help protect those areas for the rest of us!

As long as the building of luxury lodges doesn't ruin unspoiled areas, I'm willing to live in harmony with the glampers. But one of the dangers is that people assume that because they've paid a lot of money to do something, it is safe. Anyone, regardless of expenditure, can get seriously injured or killed doing wilderness activities they aren't prepared for.

You can pay tens of thousands of dollars to be guided up Mt. Everest, but that doesn't mean you won't get a cerebral or pulmonary edema and die - or get severe frostbite and lose a limb. It happens every year. Or doing a multi-day hike with your pack being transported for you - you could easily get lost (particularly if you know nothing about navigation) and find yourself stuck in the woods overnight with no gear at all. The wilderness is a risky place, and spending money won't change that.

So is glamping the next big thing in travel? Certainly adventure vacations have been gaining in popularity over the past decade or so. And now it's oh-so-chic to be concerned about the planet. So perhaps glamping is an idea whose time has come. Or maybe it's just a desperate attempt to convince the ladies that a camping vacation is worth the same price as a beach resort!


Determinist said...

Glamping" sounds decidedly dodgy to me. I don't get it. I guess it's a "have your cake and eat it too" sort of thing.

I am a bit of a purist and while I don't camp, I would think the suffering should come with it - that's how I'd go about it. BUT, if I had an extra $10k sitting around - who knows? Well, I can't imaging it.

Anonymous said...

I'd do it in a heartbeat! Not that I could ever afford it, but if I could...

Although perhaps this is because I've always had a secret dream to take 'malaria medicine' (Gin and Tonics by the pitcher) while relaxing in my campaign tent.

Podcast Bob said...

Hey Michelle, what a great idea for a book!

I would love to do an interview with you via Skype about it and some of the stories.

Hope to hear from you soon.

Podcast Bob

Anonymous said...

Hey I'm an avid outdoors"man". I typically spend one to three months in the outdoors at a time. Three months living in a van traveling acroos all of Southern Africa, and one month below the rim of the Grand Canyon are my most favorite and most memorable trips.

I think glamping if Fantastic when scaled to what ever level a person is comfortable with. When I was in the Grand Canyon I was known as the "little black dress goddess" as I always escaped the campsite, took a shower, put on perfume and deodorant and showed back up at the camp smelling like flowers, wearing a little black dress, with my lexan wine glass in hand! Just because one is in the outdoors, does not mean one cannot be glamorous or enjoy the amenities of comfort. I carry an estimated 5 pounds/11 kg in my backpack on trips strictly for "comfort" sake. When I was dating my husband, we did a week long sea kayak-camping trip in the San Juan Islands -- it was Victoria's Secret outfits for me each night! No wonder he married me! Glamping is fun and if it gets more people away from the TV/Computer and into the outdoors it can not be so bad.

Maple Kiwi said...

Hmm, controversy!

As I said, I'm for anything that gets more people outdoors, no matter where their comfort level is. And it seems that everyone has their own definition of what would be considered "glamping".

I think if 'Little Black Dress' is carrying all that extra stuff herself she's not a glamper - she's just a backpacker who likes to look nice. If she hired a sherpa to carry her little black dress and wine glasses, I'd call it glamping.

Maple Kiwi said...

Podcast Bob - drop me a line at and we'll set something up!

Dawn said...

Hi there, like you I much prefer to get to all thoose wild places by my own sweat and effort. Dawn

Anonymous said...

I am a proud "glamper". But what it really means is someone who loves camping and has more aof an eye for the practical: i use a bell tent (a typical "glamping" accessor. Why? because its CANVAS, and therfore not a sweatbox. I can stand and cook in it safely, and there is room for getting dressed, and for children to join you. I do NOT buy designer wellies or outfits, Army and Navy are stiill the best. This is what glamping really is: people who go camping, and have learnt what is more practical