Do you even know what “glamping” even means? Or that it has become hugely popular? We didn’t even know the term even existed. However, we can be sure about one thing. We absolutely dislike traditional forms of camping or simply put…roughing it!
Personally, our team never grew up with camping as a national past-time We were city slickers who grew up playing team sports like baseball, football, soccer, and yes, even ball hockey. We really could not afford to go skiing, didn’t have cottages, and definitely didn’t canoe.
Table of Contents
- Glamping: What it Means
- Glamping: Its Origin
- Glamping: Early Historical Examples
- Glamping Treehouses for Celebrities and Remote Workers
- Glamping Treehouses for Travelers
- Building Your Own Glamping Treehouse
- How to Build Your Glamping Escape
Glamping: What it Means
Glamping is all about luxury, comfort, and style when compared to traditional camping. For example, I’m the type that would take a road trip with an RV (recreational vehicle) or find national parks that allow for yurt rentals. Why? I like electricity and the option to use regular bathroom facilities which, in some cases, include showering! Yes, I’m a high-maintenance glamor doll, and heck, let me dry clean in peace.
We love accommodations and facilities that are considerably more luxurious than those associated with traditional camping. Yes, it seems we are mainly city slickers that love nature retreats to recharge and unwind as long as I have a satellite signal. Haha. We’re exaggerating but you get our point.
Not all established national parks in North America will have electricity but if you find one where you can rent yurts, you will find power, lighting, and even a small deck with a barbecue! You only need to pack some clothes and buy food at the nearby supermarket. You’ll still need to have an icebox to store your cold meats for the short stay or if you really want to be a really bad city slicker, you can leave your beloved campsite and buy the fresh meats daily at the local general store.
Glamping is really about an experience versus technology and access. Elements of glamping are on full display at Burning Man festivals. Glamping has been called luxury camping, posh camping, or boutique/comfy camping. You will find many travel operators promoting this through bell tents, pods, safari tents, tent cabins, tree houses (which we’ll get into later), tipis, vintage trailers, vintage caravans, Shepherd’s huts, and yurts.
Glamping: Its Origin
I actually thought glamping was a recent phenomenon. The word itself seems to have its origins within the travel industry and as a made-up word to describe niche travel or vacation activities. Vince Vaughn is likely famous for upgrading the guy’s get away with the made-up term “mancation” popularized in his 2006 film, “The Break-Up”.
You’d need to be a Columbo-style lexicographer (dictionary compiler!) to figure out when some terms started to appear. It seems that glamping may have shown up around 2005 in the United Kingdom. But holy smokes, did you know that staycation appears in an Alabama newspaper around 2005, too? Katrina spawned Hurrication (2005) and the list goes on. How about nakations (naked vacations), gaycations, playcations, voluntourism, and ecotourism.
While not directly related to a generational shift, it could be said that millennials may have played a greater role in popularizing glamping (glamorous camping) because they’re associated themselves with particular themes such as the environment or climate change; thereby, increasing awareness and interest for ecotourism which can support the luxuries of hotel accommodation with escapism and adventure recreation through camping.
Glamping: Early Historical Examples
In the historical context, glamping has existed since the Mongolians crossed great expanses of land during the reign of Ghengis Khan. In the 1100s, yurts and gurs were popular and Mongolians live in them today.
The sixteenth-century had its fair share of glamping. We’ve seen the movies of Kings, Queens, and other aristocrats traveling across the countryside with a steady convoy of other horses and people that brought the rich provisions in remote places during long journeys. In real life, it is reported that Earl of Atholl set up a luxurious experience for King James V and his mother with pitched tents and the lavish provisions of a home palace.
In the early part of the 20th century, wealthy Britons and Americans would enjoy the African safaris but would seek out this adventure with luxury and comfort. You may have seen this in some old American movie classics showing wealthy aristocrats enjoying their adventures with electric generators, cases of champagne, and other amenities like furniture, rugs, and luxury bedding.
Glamping Treehouses for Celebrities and Remote Workers
Inspiration for this article was the result of a Treehouse Masters episode which covers the colossal custom-made treehouse for Shaquille O’Neal. The Shaq sought help from Pete Nelson to build a speakeasy-style hang out in the “backyard” of his McDonough, Georgia property.
This is one decked-out man-cave! It includes a bar, cigar cabinet, poker table, dart boards, leather chairs, and deck for outside barbecuing. The lounge itself is decked out and inspired by the look and feel of prohibition-era bars. The door is massive at 4 feet by 9 feet to accommodate Shaq’s enormous size. How could think you could have a “hideaway” in your own backyard? LOL.
You can get a good glimpse of the episode in this seven-minute clip on YouTube. You’ll be impressed!
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Treehouse Glamping isn’t just about fun and games but it is part of a new growing trend as a result of the recent COVID19 pandemic to consider backyard offices, sheds, or garden studios that can act as remote offices for knowledge workers who have been forced to remain productive in the new normal.
Many are considering extensions to already busy homes in the pandemic to act as a place for solitude, focused work, meditation, and creative space. This becomes a zen space, so to speak, free of the clutter of a full house for families.
A glamorous treehouse can act as a playroom or even a bedroom for children who are in desperate need of new experiences beyond their cramped homes. We would certainly consider a glamped up treehouse for office or creative space and its closer connection to nature.
Imagine looking out of a window or walking out to the deck of your treehouse? At night with a star-filled sky if you’re in an area where you can enjoy such an experience!
Glamping Treehouses for Travelers
A cottage industry of AirBNB-style glamping treehouses is now available to the adventurer in you. While Tarzan may have made the treehouse concept popular in the most recent 1999 Disney film, glamping-style service providers like GlampingHub and Quality Unearthed among others have helped raise awareness and increasing popularity for glamping-style travel across the United States, Canada, and Europe.
I do think these are positive trends – especially now with the world in pandemic mode – as more people realize how they’ve missed out on the immersive and therapeutic benefits of the great outdoors. Depending on what glamping accommodations you select, you can have many options to glamp and camp in style. Some facilities may include sleep luxury options, full course meals, or guiding services.
A simple search on GlampingHub turned up 484 accommodations for you to rent across Australia, North America, and Europe. Accommodations appear to have been verified by GlampingHub, include many photos and specific categorizations to help make your planning easy.
We looked up one treehouse location in La Vall de Bianya, Catalonia (Spain) which is listed as a “new accommodation” and in the county of Garrotxa. This county is known for its goat’s milk cheese (feta!), and its huge natural park with many extinct volcanic cones.
This location is near mountains, forests, rivers, and waterfalls. The region also includes medieval towns including Santa Pau built around a castle. Crossing the area includes a network of trails connecting the Pyrenees to the Mediterranean Sea.
This luxury camping experience includes breakfast, a private bathroom, and a secluded idyllic experience six meters above the ground. Its wooden interior with double-bed and loft with a set of twin beds supports two adults and two children, making this a perfect family glamping getaway.
Unbelievably, the private bathroom with sink, toilet, and shower are lined up with linen and bath towels. There’s a pellet stove for a cozy wind down, a table and chairs, and a kettle to make coffee before you receive your daily “delivered” breakfast. And yes, there are lanterns for nighttime activities.
The deck is fantastic and the window view from the bed overlooks the mountain and a phenomenal night sky. The interior is absolutely beautiful with a decorated tree stem. The photos just sell it! This is glamping in style with a campground, a nearby farmhouse with a dining area and restaurant, and an intoxicating view of nature trails and forests.
How could you go wrong with a private bathroom (includes shower, toilet, sink, towels, toiletries, toilet paper), deck/patio, garden, picnic area, breakfast (included), lunch/dinner at the restaurant (additional charge), bicycle rentals, room service, and other services for an additional charge (wine, chocolate, massage).
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Building Your Own Glamping Treehouse
You may decide you want a similar treehouse for your own property and backyard. Of course, building your own treehouse can either be a do-it-yourself experience if you have the skills or a more costly exercise if you need help with manufacturers.
How to Build Your Glamping Escape
On GlampingHub, the site included a partner section that allows enterprising entrepreneurs to become glamping hosts on the service. A quick scan of the manufacturer catalog only turned up four companies in Spain (two), Slovenia, and Italy that specializes in treehouse manufacturing.
It’s not clear if there are limitations but we guess that you could also contact these companies to develop a treehouse.
There are numerous options available in North America and a few episodes of Treehouse Masters on Animal Planet should point you in the right direction.
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John Thompson, Writer and Commentator, EvolutDesign.com
Soldier, writer, researcher, consultant, and bon vivant, John Thompson is the author of numerous columns, op-eds, reports, briefs, short stories and books as the “Felicity Files” and “Spirit Over Steel: A Chronology of the Second World War” (version III). Often found hunched over his computer, or in his garden, and now often found doing both. His diverse talent has led him to work in industries and projects such as energy, security and home construction and renovation.