As more travellers indicate a desire to escape into nature — escapes that include gourmet dining and plush bedding — so-called glamping continues to grow in popularity.
A new report conducted by market research firm Arizton projects glamping, or luxury camping, revenues to grow steadily in the next five years, reaching an estimated US$1 billion by 2024. The report also noted that the newly founded American Glamping Association signals the industry's migration to the mainstream.
In an attempt to satisfy this growing need, hospitality companies are continuing to create low-impact tented camps around the world that reconnect travellers with the great outdoors in comfort and style.
Rottnest Island, a car-free nature reserve off the coast of Perth that is popular for its white sand beaches, recently welcomed Discovery Rottnest Island. The retreat, the island's first new lodging in 30 years, comprises 83 high-grade canvas tents tucked behind the dunes of Pinky Beach.
"We have accommodation options to suit all types of travellers, ranging from budget-friendly tents to deluxe family lodgings with kitchenettes and ocean views," said Grant Wilckens, chief executive of Discovery Holiday Parks.
On the property, guests can spot rock parrots and native quokkas, friendly marsupials regarded as "the world's happiest animal."
"We created a tented camp experience so travellers could embrace nature, disconnect from the world and create memories with loved ones," Wilckens said.
Rates from NZ$180 per night for a standard tent based on double occupancy during low season in July and August.
The American Glamping Association was founded by Sarah Dusek, co-founder and chief executive of Under Canvas, an adventure-hospitality company operating eight eco-conscious tented camps adjacent to national parks.
"Our camps have become infinitely more immersive with designer furnishings, more adventure activities, wellness programs and an elevated culinary offering," Dusek said.
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Oh Yellowstone, you never disappoint. 🙌🏼 Two more months of this location and we are going to enjoy every second. Haven’t booked your Under Canvas Yellowstone stay? Head online now. | photo by: @o_monica #yellowstonenationalpark #undercanvas #outsidetogether #sunset
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With online bookings more than doubling year over year, the company will add 15 camps to keep up with demand. Under Canvas Yosemite is among those new offerings, debuting as a pop-up this fall. Next spring, expect 90 safari-inspired tents scattered among 85 acres of Sequoia forest, just 15 minutes from the park's entrance.
Most tents are outfitted with king beds, wood-burning stoves and en suite bathrooms with hot showers. Using 80% less water and energy than a similarly sized hotel, the company strives to leave the land as untouched as possible. "We aim to be zero-waste by 2021," Dusek said.
The camp will operate seasonally from April to November. Prices start at NZ$285 for basic safari tents with communal bathrooms.
"Travelers have shifted away from amassing material possessions and toward collecting life-altering, perspective-changing experiences," said Luca Franco, chief executive of Luxury Frontiers, a design firm specialising in top-quality tented camps. The company is partnering with Nayara Resorts in northwest Costa Rica to develop 29 family-friendly tents overlooking spectacular views of Arenal Volcano. They will launch this December alongside two of the brand's existing properties, Nayara Springs and Nayara Spa, Resort & Gardens.
Constructed on roughly 1,500-square-foot stilted platforms to minimise the camp's footprint, each tent contains open-air living areas and plunge pools with mineral water sourced from nearby hot springs.
"By omitting the tent's fourth wall, our guests are fully immersed in nature," said Leo Ghitis, owner of Nayara Resorts. "They sleep to the sounds of the rainforest."
Rates, from NZ$1,800 per tent per night, include free daily breakfast and morning yoga.
Swiss-based outfitter Amazing Escapes was tapped by the indigenous Jirira community in Bolivia's Altiplano region to build a sustainable tented camp atop the Uyuni Salt Flats, at the foot of the Tunupa volcano.
"Our challenge was to make the camp completely 'clean'," said Paul Kennes, the company's chief executive. Kachi Lodge opened in May, with six geodesic domes powered predominantly by solar energy. The domes have closed-loop water systems, incinerating toilets, local artwork and access to a culinary partnership with the famed La Paz restaurant, Gustu.
"The menu is entirely local and seasonal, including an impressive selection of Bolivian wines," Kennes said.
Prices begin at NZ$2,980 per person based on double occupancy for a minimum two-night stay, and include airport transfers, guided activities and full board.
Wilderness Safaris' new environmentally responsible Magashi Camp opened in May, on the continent that pioneered the tented-camp experience.
"Established in partnership with the Rwanda Development Board and nonprofit conservation organization, African Parks, our core purpose is to conserve Rwanda's diverse savannah ecosystem and threatened species," said Ingrid Baas, general manager of the camp.
Six tented guest rooms are set on a lakeside perch in Akagera National Park — a scenic patchwork of riverine woodlands, papyrus marshes and low-lying mountains — where guests enjoy a parade of wildlife including leopards, elephants, zebras and giraffes. Lions and Eastern black rhinos, which were reintroduced to the reserve in recent years, are also at the park.
Starting rates from NZ$700 per person per night are based on full-board and double occupancy, and include taxes, activities, park fees and laundry.