I have a few, very fond and distinct memories of my summers as a child. Some of the clearest are of camping alone in my backyard. I would set up my pup tent under a tree in a corner, facing away from the house (to further the illusion that I was in some exotic and wild location) or my father would, after some convincing, open up the Coleman camper that we took on family vacations and I would drag in books, blankets, toys, games and snacks from the house. I stayed out there for days sometimes. When I got hungry, I went in the house for meals. When I needed company, it was only a few steps away. When I needed the facilities, there they were. All the convenience of living at home but I had my own private, secluded and cozy place far away from the hustle and the bustle of my everyday 10-year-old life.
Flash forward 35 years and I realize that what I was doing now has a name. I may have actually invented “Glamping.” This trendy new accommodation and vacation experience, a mashup of glamour and camping, meets all the needs of experienced outdoor vacationers but leaves no convenience forgotten. It’s a catchy name for a suddenly stylish activity that has no official rules. The claim to the true history of Glamping is, in fact, still up for grabs. One wonders who coined the phrase first and marvels at the fact that we aren’t going Famping (fancy+camping) or Corting (fort+camping). Despite its murky origins, Glamping’s present day popularity is clear and undeniable.
Glamping units (pods, platforms, treehouses etc.) are popping up everywhere, like juicy little mushrooms, deep in forests, by the side of the road and in the middle of fields. In national parks and private backyards alike.
The common thread is this, Glamping is a getaway with benefits. All the things you love about camping without having to poop in the woods.
Albert County has poked and prodded Glamping to see exactly what it’s all about and has now embraced the idea like it embraces all good ideas, slowly, with great deliberation and then with wide open arms and a great deal of local flair.
Broadleaf Ranch, a cornerstone of the area’s accommodation and tourism industry, has built six, themed Glamping units high up in the Shepody Hills. These units (2 Lighthouses, 2 Chuckwagons and 2 Covered Bridges) are like grown-up playhouses with the best imaginable views of the county and the Bay of Fundy. With three-piece bathrooms, kitchenettes, big, soft beds and fire pits, they have everything that a family, a couple or a lone voyager could possibly need to get away from the madding crowds and breathe in the balm of silence and solitude. They are perfect jumping off points to take in all that Albert County has to offer. A tiny base camp, if you will.
Fundy National Park has hopped on board the Glamping wagon too. They have embraced a wide swath of accommodations that the new and loosely defined genre allows: OTENTiks, The Goutte d'Ô, Yurts and Rustic Cabins -- a carnival of experiences to have. All with various amenities for travellers that dream of being off-the-grid gypsies, if only for a few hours.
Private Glamping experiences in Albert county range from huge tents on handmade wooden platforms overlooking Fundy Bay in New Horton to “Hobbit look” pods that “provide a comfortable, hassle-free camping experience”. Google “albert county glamping” and you’ll find veritable villages of options.
More and more travellers are looking for experiential vacations. Not just SEEING but DOING. We travel the world looking to tap into new sensations and awaken the feelings of joy, safety, comfort and wonder that have been lost in the frenzy or the mundanity of our lives.
Glamping invites travellers to a world without noise and banal banter, where there is probably no Wi-Fi or satellite TV. When the day is done, and you have hiked and visited and seen and experienced all the things, Glamping lets you escape, in total creature comfort, to a fort all your own. Where an evening’s entertainment comes from books, or board games or a meteor shower watched from just outside the bonfire’s circle of light. Where white noise is replaced by birdsong and breezes.
Glamping can also be the perfect all season “Staycation” for Albert County residents; a cozy winter weekend getaway plan. Cuddling up and watching the snow fly in a fully winterized Lighthouse, Wagon or Yurt would make for a memorable anniversary celebration, birthday slumber party or retreat. Just add a bottle of wine, grab your favorite person and drop out of the frenzy for a while.
There’s something appealingly childlike about the Glamping trend. It speaks to the fort-builder in me. Having a tiny space, just big enough to be yourself in was an important part of everyone’s childhood. Who among us hasn’t draped a sheet over the kitchen table and pretended you were a wandering desert Bedouin, stopping for a night at an Oasis.
There is no doubt that Glamping entices you to reconnect with nature in a new and unforgettable way. So, step outside your Yurt (Lighthouse, Chuckwagon, Goutte d'Ô …), breathe in the clean air, marvel at the scenery and do it all in style and comfort.
Alison Elias is working with the marketing department of Broadleaf Ranch.