Pampered Campers Go 'Glamping' - TheStreet

Pampered Campers Go 'Glamping'

'Glamping' fits the bill for those who want to camp, but without the scary bathrooms.
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It's hard to believe anyone could actually enjoy camping. Hard ground, burnt coffee and bug-filled bathrooms.

That's why "glamping" is so much better. Linen sheets, gourmet food and deep soaking tubs. That's more like it. Jump in the Porsche Cayenne and go.

The Resort at Paws Up, Montana

; Greenough, Montana.

In the backdrop of the Garnet Mountain Range overlooking the Blackfoot River Valley that Lewis and Clark "swooned over" is The Resort at Paws Up. Located on over 37,000 acres of land, this resort is to camping what Air Force One is to commercial aviation. Visitors choose between glamorous accommodations including Tent City and River Camp, a decadent experience composed of a freestanding canvas community complete with butler service and personal chef. The camps include canopied dining rooms and sleeping tents outfitted with carpeted floors, fluffy duvets and handmade furnishings that lend an uber-lux Rocky Mountain flair.

The Resort at Paws Up in Montana is home to North America's poshest tent camp.

The Paws experience is personally tailored to each guest and family. The more adventurous spend their days among surrounding streams with world-class fly-fishing, rappelling local cliffs and whitewater rafting along local rapids. Those looking for a more relaxed encounter choose between clay shooting, horseback excursions and jet skiing nearby Seeley Lake. Aside from campfire dining, the main resort is home to a western-style gourmet and tented Spa Town with massage rooms and treatment suites arranged along an outdoor boardwalk under a pine tree canopy.

Lion Sands Game Reserve

; Sabi Sands, South Africa.

A two-hour flight from Johannesburg and you're in descent to the dirt airstrip of Lion Sands Resort in the Sabi Sands Game Reserve in South Africa. A well-polished artillery of refurbished Land Rovers plow over the plain as if you're the African King, returning to the 1933 Lodge where four freestanding wood-and-glass suites offer panoramic views of the bushy plain. Between your bubble bath in the egg-shaped tub and cooling outdoor shower, you suddenly realize this isn't really camping.

Your camping adventure begins on the second night following a dawn dose of safari with up-close leopard, lion and wild dog sightings. Your guide returns in late evening to drive you into the horizon as the sun sets and your nerves peak. Thirty minutes later, you arrive to a swathe of wild wilderness and a lone 500-year-old Leadwood Tree house alit in flickering candles with canopied bed under an open sky. Then the driver leaves. The following hours of darkness offer a once-in-a-lifetime experience of wildness shrieks, hippo cries and lion roars as you watch and hopefully sleep the night away in the true African bush.

El Khiam Ahlam

; Ouarzazate, Morocco.

Your reward for staying in a tent in the middle of the Sahara Desert is a night at Dar Ahlam, the sister property of the five-tent retreat located in Quarzazate. To get here you'll likely fly via Casablanca or make the four-hour drive from Marrakech to this lavish 19th century Kasbah created by a former party planner from Paris. The 12-room hotel feels more like a private palace, surrounded by a manicured desert landscape and pristine pool where visitors paw themselves with creams and exotic oils like spoiled housecats.

The following day you arise to an oversize 4x4 that idles like it has automotive bronchitis, as you and your Tumi luggage take on the glorious dunes of the uninterrupted Sahara to the five-tent El Khiam Ahlam. Worry turns to excitement as your own personal encampment comes into view looking more like a vintage postcard from a Katharine Hepburn movie than UNHCR newsreel. Tents are modestly outfitted with antique chests, vintage Moroccan rugs and pressed-linen sheets. Once you see your private toilet and sigh with relief, a private terrace awaits with chilled rose wine and endless dessert as far as you can see.

Costanoa Coastal Lodge and Camp

; Pescadero, California.

Halfway between Half Moon Bay and Santa Cruz just south of San Francisco, Costanoa occupies a 30-acre ocean-facing bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean. One of the few camping experiences in California not operated by the state park service, the location mixes the amenities of a full-service resort with tent-theme accommodations and summer camp-minded atmosphere. Ideal for families or adventurous couples looking for a social camping experience, the resort gives you the option of as much or as little communal campfire togetherness you wish to experience.

You may want to avoid mentioning that the resort actually has a 40-room main lodge with room service and fluffy beds with ocean views. Campers should book one of four different tent bungalows built of a wood or metal frame with waterproof canvas walls. Each is equipped with full electricity and even heated blankets. Gotta go? Then make like the old days with flashlight in hand to the comfort stations where restrooms and showers are located with heated concrete floors, a 24-hour dry sauna and outdoor fireplace. Days are spent kayaking, hiking local trails, in surf or yoga classes and amongst fellow guests at the various public barbecue areas, restaurant or evening bonfire singalongs with S'mores.

Rockwater Secret Cove Resort

; British Columbia, Canada.

It's no easy task getting to the lodge, located two hours by car from Vancouver along the Sunshine Coast Highway. From afar, it looks like nothing more than a sea of towering pine trees that butt up to the pristine blue Malaspina Strait. You arrive to a redwood boardwalk that leads to the main lodge with its terraced decks and rectangular lap pool. By summer, it's a picture-perfect rocky beach oasis of greenish-blue alcoves accessed by outboard boats that troll to playful afternoons of swimming and rock jumping.

Your home at Rockwater is a selection of tented tree houses built on stilts that lift guest suites to just the right elevation for spectacular ocean views. Wood-frame tents are enveloped in waterproof canvas walls with immaculate living areas lined with natural stone floors. An open floor plan places a gigantic king-sized bed opposite a deep soaking tub with French doors, which open to a private terrace that feels anything but roughing it. Meals are taken in the main dining room, where a Pacific Northwestern feast of sockeye salmon, local scallops and B.C. halibut filet awaits famished campers.

Michael Martin is the managing editor of JetSetReport.com -- a luxury travel and lifestyle guide based in Los Angeles and London. His work has appeared in In Style, Blackbook, Elle, U.K.'s Red magazine, ITV and BBC.