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If you like the idea of camping — but not the part that involves figuring out how to build and light a fire, sleeping on the ground and peeing in the woods — then "glamping" may be for you.
The awkward yet accurate term covers a fast-growing list of "glamorous camping" venues. They replace traditional tents and outhouses with accommodations including real beds and swanky amenities — everything from "yurts [circular tents], teepees and airstreams to treehouses, cabins, cubes, pods, domes, ecolodges and huts," said Linda Clark of luxury camping website Glamping.com.
With campfire valets, claw-foot soaking tubs, down comforters and concierge services, some glamping sites in the woods offer more comfortable accommodations than some posh boutique hotels. One service, Babierge.com, will rent, deliver and set up high-end baby gear at campgrounds.
In addition to offering spots for tents and recreational vehicles, in San Diego, the campground Santee Lakes Recreation Preserve offers fully furnished houseboat-style floating cabins, including outdoor porches with barbecues. Floating cabins also come with personal pedal boats. Rates range from $47 to $185 per night, depending on the day or season.
At Campland on the Bay on Mission Bay, amenities include a gymnasium, arts and crafts, and a range of outdoor activities. An RV "Supersite" — which goes for a premium rate of $1,490 — offers a fully enclosed campsite. Perks include a whirlpool spa, washer-dryer and a phone line.
In Montana, The Resort at Paws Up is a pioneer in the glamping field that has been upping the ante for the past 12 years. Amenities range from "camping butlers" to a resident "S'moreologist" tasked with prepping the perfect campfire snack.
This year's additions are three-bedroom, two bathroom glamping tents in the North Bank Camp, with high-end linens, heated floors, a camp chef and a butler.
"When you only have a few weeks of vacation a year, you want them to include good food, good wines, creature comforts, luxury and atmosphere, so that when you return to the daily grind you are rested and don't feel like you need another vacation," recent guest Dana Koenig wrote in an email to CNBC. The memories and amenities are "well worth it, and then some."
North Bank Camp's three-bedroom tent will set vacationers back at least $3,500, including a 20 percent resort fee. That steep price includes meals, transportation to/from the airport, Wi-Fi and other recreational activities.
At The Wilds, a 10,000+-acre wild animal preserve in Cumberland, Ohio, guests can stay at Nomad Ridge. The 12 luxury hillside yurts (circular tents) offer a full menu of luxuries like bamboo floors, private bathrooms, Wi-Fi and 24-hour concierge service. Private decks are perfect for viewing local exotic wildlife.
The adults-only overnight packages start at $325, and include breakfast and dinner for two, and tickets for an open-air safari tour.
Teepees in wine country
At the Cherry Wood Bed, Breakfast and Barn in Zillah, Washington, wine-country glamping comes in the form of 22-foot-tall private teepees with luxury bedding, private water closets and outdoor showers. The B&B in a vineyard is also the starting point for area horseback and "Cowboy Limo" (hay wagon) winery tours.
Rates start at $285 and include breakfast. A two-night stay includes complimentary visits to the open-to-the-sky "Twilight Tubs" bathing room with a view of the vineyards.
In northern Utah, Conestoga Ranch (on Bear Lake in Garden City) gives the Old West the glamping treatment, with lodging in wagons based on authentic 19th-century designs. The vehicles have king beds and bunks and private bathrooms nearby, but the Royal Grand Tent Suite is as majestic as its name suggests. It overlooks both Bear Lake and the ranch, and includes a claw-foot soaking tub (for two), a deck with loungers and an indoor entertainment bar.
Not an experienced camper? Not to worry. "Many of our guests are not campers and do not know how to start a fire," said Keith Battaglia, Conestoga's sales and marketing director. "They are adventuresome travelers looking for something unique."
Wagon rates start at $145; the Royal Grand Tent Suite starts at $245.
Through Sept. 19, a pop-up campsite in New York's Rockaway Beach neighborhood is giving city dwellers the chance to glamp on the beach.
Offered in partnership with the National Park Service, Terra Glamping: Fort Tilden, is taking reservations for stays in 12-by-14-foot safari style tents. Amenities include continental breakfast, S'mores, towels and robes, a nearby trailer with bathrooms and showers, a nightly campfire, and the use of beach cruiser bikes.
Rates start at $200 per night.