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Glamping: Camping with a G for Glamorous!

Tent City at The Resort at Paws Up, Montana. Image © Paws Up

The HipTravelMama gals understand that bonding with nature is important to our families, and that minimal impact on the environment is crucial to leaving the earth in good shape for future generations. But who said we can’t do these things in style?

The latest trend in environmental responsibility and getting back to basics – but not too basic – is ‘glamping’. That’s camping with a g for glamorous!

The camping aspect includes a tent, yurt, or other canvas structure, which is embedded in nature with a view of the stars. But that’s pretty much where the similarities end. Many included full bathrooms, are beautifully furnished with rustic chic décor, and have all the amenities of a hotel suite. You can leave your sleeping bag at home, and the s’mores are on the room service menu.

Three of us each visited a glamping site in the Pacific Northwest recently – each quite different and on varying segments of the glamping spectrum. Here’s our round-up.

The Resort at Paws Up – Greenough, Montana
Reviewed by Fiona Van Alstyne

Outdoor dining at The Resort at Paws Up. Image © Paws Up

Simultaneously luxurious and gloriously unpretentious, The Resort at Paws Up is a 37,000 acre luxury family resort set in Montana’s beautiful Blackfoot Valley. During our visit just last week, we were impressed by the beautiful setting, phenomenal service, hospitality and attention to detail – it’s no wonder families fall in love with this resort and return year after year!

If you plan on glamping, we recommend staying at the serene Creekside Camp, the newest and most luxurious encampment featuring tasteful two- bedroom tents, with luxury master bathrooms, overlooking a gently babbling creek and complete with a camping butler to attend to your family’s every whim! Their Tent City and River Camp, with more traditional but equally exceptional tents, are also available.

Spend your days enjoying an endless array of activities including equestrian excursions, waterskiing, fishing (for kids as young as 5), rafting, rappelling, sport clays, hot air ballooning, ATV tours and lots more! Kids can join in (try the new Junior Wrangler program) or sign them up for the exceptional Kids Corps program. Nannies are also available for the youngest guests!

Return to camp for fabulous family dinners followed by ghost stories and s’mores by the campfire. Other dining options range from a fine dining restaurant (Pomp), to an exciting Chuck Wagon Ride with outdoor BBQ, and all are family friendly. And don’t miss a trip to the unique tent-bound spa (summer only) overlooking a meadow of wildflowers, with only birdsong and gentle breezes as a soundtrack to your hot stone massage.

Rates start at $1,245 per night for a family tent. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are included. Fly into Missoula airport. No need to rent a car – Paws Up will collect you and drive you around for the duration of your stay!

Hip Tips:

  • We recommend you combine your glamping stay with a few days in one of the beautiful homes at Paws Up.
  • Be sure to book at least 6 months in advance – this place is popular for a reason!

Lakedale Resort – Friday Harbor, Washington
Reviewed by Anne Taylor Hartzell

Lakedale Resort at Three Lakes, Canvas Cabin

 Lakedale Resort at Three Lakes is nestled between Roche Harbor and Friday Harbor on San Juan Island in Washington State, accessible by passenger and auto ferry or air. Situated on 82 wooded acres, Lakedale Resort offers four accommodation options: The Lodge with cozy, romantic guestrooms; family-friendly log cabins; canvas cabins with real beds and linens; and campsites for the nature lover.

I’m not a big camper, but have to say when I saw Lakedale Resort’s new glamping packages, it had me dreaming of my kind of camping – fine wine by the campfire with dark chocolate gourmet s’mores and a big comfy bed off the dirt.

Each custom-built 225-square-foot canvas cabin features a queen bed with pillow-top bedding, a full-size sleeper sofa or two lounge chairs, pillows and a flannel duvet, along with a beautiful ‘glampsite’ with two Adirondack chairs, a picnic table and a fire ring.

The resort’s setting – adjacent to Neva Lake, Dream Lake and Fish Hook Lake – provides an abundance of outdoor activities including fishing, biking, swimming, canoeing, kayaking, hiking and boating, and all of the amenities of a luxury Northwest lodge retreat, making the resort an ideal destination for memorable family vacations.

The Lakedale ‘glampground’ is open annually from May to September. Standard glamping rates start at $149 per night. Check out Lakedale Resort’s Happy Glamper package now to book through September, or book for next year.

Chiwana Village at SageCliffe – Quincy, Washington
Reviewed by Sophie Vander 

Chiwana Village at SageCliff Yurt and view of Columbia River Gorge

Located on the exquisite SageCliffe property (the site of one of our favorite local getaways, Cave B at SageCliffe) is the very-newly-constructed Chiwana Village. Just two hours east of Seattle, the village comprises a cluster of 25 yurts built to minimally impact the environment while taking advantage of the truly spectacular view of Columbia River Gorge.

Amenities include a king size bed, roof sky-dome, private bathroom, fridge, iPod docking station and wi-fi, and every yurt has a view of the vineyard or river gorge. When we stayed there, the owners and brainchildren behind the entire SageCliffe property, including the building of the adjoining Gorge Amphitheater, Vincent and Carol Bryan, were out planting the new vineyards around the yurts – in a few years you really will be in among the vines.

As guests at Chiwana Village you have full access to the rest of SageCliffe’s amenities including wine tasting at Cave B Estate Winery, The Spa at SageCliffe, Tendrils restaurant, pool, mountain bikes, and all the hikes your legs can handle.

The village is new and still has some wrinkles to iron out, and the yurts are more basic than other glamping properties, but the amenities like restaurant, pool and spa, and absolutely breathtaking views, make up for the basic sites. Currently the yurts have only a king bed, but the yurts are enormous, so there’s plenty of room for a port-a-crib if you need one. By next May, they will be creating two two-bedroom yurts for families, and adding a couple of sleeper sofas to the king-bed yurts.

Chiwana season runs May to October. Rates start at $175 per night, with special and packages available till end of September.

Hip Tips:

  • Book early if you want to snag one for a 2011 Amphitheater concert – they will be popular for those not wanting to schlep it in real tents on the hill!
  • Our wine pick? Award-winning 2006 Cave B Merlot . Sip it on you yurt deck under the stars.

More Happy Glampers Around the World

The glamping season in the Northern Hemisphere is drawing to a close, with most reopening in May 2011. We chose to preview now to give you time to plan for next year, as glamping is the hottest experience right now and places will book fast for the new season.

If you can’t wait that long, here are a few more glamping experiences around the world, including some down under whose open season starts now!

Paperbark Camp, Jervis Bay, NSW, Australia
A glampground perched in eucalyptus nest surrounded by pristine beaches, and all the luxuries fit for a relaxing escape.

EcoPod, Argyll, Scotland, UK
Camping in Scotland? You bet. The extreme interior design in these pods straddles retro and sci-fi.

Clayoquot Wilderness Resort, Tofino, BC, Canada
Perhaps the ultimate glamping adventure in North America – wild and remote, yet completely luxurious.

The Grand Daddy Airstream Penthouse Trailer Park, Cape Town, South Africa.
One big trailer park party on the hotel rooftop!

Finch Hattons, Tsavo West National Park, Nairobi, Kenya
The golden era of safari wrapped up in first class comforts surrounded by the African wilderness.

Blue Mountains Private Safaris Wild Bush Luxury, Blue Mountains, NSW, Australia
Yes, these really are beds built out under the stars. Totally dreamy.

4 Rivers Floating Lodge, Koh Kong, Cambodia
This environmentally friendly resort includes hi-tech electronic interiors, but oh-so-low tech and peaceful surrounds.

Refugio Marnes Bedouin Tent La Jaima, Alicante, Spain
A Bedouin tent for four complete with bathroom, kitchen and pool, all on 50 acres of private Spanish hillside.

Do you have a favorite glamping destination? Leave us a comment and tell us all about it!

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Tent City at The Resort at Paws Up, Montana. Image © Paws Up
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Outdoor dining at The Resort at Paws Up. Image © Paws Up
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Lakedale Resort at Three Lakes, Canvas Cabin
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Chiwana Village at SageCliff Yurt and view of Columbia River Gorge
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