Glamping adventures have swept the world in the last decade, having become popular in the United States by 2014. The word glamping is derived from a combination of the words glamorous and camping and was added to the dictionary in 2016. Two glamping sites are now available at Maramec Spring Park in two of the park’s most remote areas, Asher Hollow and McDole Field.
Grandson Ronnie Austin, friend Nick Karmann, and I ventured to Maramec last weekend to give glamping a try for the first time. We were intrigued by the photos on the website. A large canvas tent sits on a permanent foundation. A picnic table, grill, equipment storage unit, outdoor bathroom, trash can, water cooler and propane heat transform an otherwise remote spot into a rather glamorous and comfortable setting.
Who goes glamping? According to Ruben Martinez, Co-Founder of Glamping Hub, “Baby boomers and millennials are looking for a change in the way they typically travel, and glamping fits well for both—baby boomers, because they have a disposable income, are looking for comfort, and they’ve already done it all; millennials because they’re always looking for unique experiences. We find a good number of people who are going glamping live in cities. They’re looking to disconnect from day-to-day life but don’t necessarily want to travel across the country or go to Europe. They want to be able to take weekend trips within driving distance. They want to be outdoors, but they don’t want to rough it. Many Americans are very comfortable with the idea of camping, and glamping offers you everything you love about camping without everything you hate about it.”
Far less romantic versions have been around for thousands of years. The first evidence of tipi dwellings in North America were from 10,000 BC. According to Teepee Joy, archaeologists have found indications that dwellings made from a series of wooden poles existed that long ago as well. Tipis are unique to the Great Plains and Canadian Prairies. The structure of a tipi was convenient for ease of disassembly when tracking game, and highly functional for a nomadic lifestyle.
As far back as the 6th century, yurts, which are a popular type of glamping today, were created by the Buryat Mongolian community of Siberia. They, too, served the needs of nomadic tribes.
In the 13th Century, Genghis Khan, the ruler of the Mongol Empire, ruled from a large ger. However, since the empire was so expensive, Khan’s, ger was never completely broken down, but hauled on a wheeled cart and towed by oxen from one area to the next.
Yurts remained very popular in Turkey well into the 1960s and 1970s, and are still common in rural areas of Hungary.
Legend has it that John Stewart, 3rd Earl of Atholl, arranged what could be called the first luxury camping site in the U.K. for King James V and his mother in the Scottish Highlands.
The interior of the tent was decorated with luxurious furnishings and adornments from his own palace.
In June of 1520, a diplomatic summit was held in France called the Field of the Cloth of Gold. It was a tournament to help forge a friendship between King Henry VIII of England and King Francis I of France. An estimated 2,800 tents and marquees were set-up, complete with fountains from which red wine flowed.
According to TurkishCulture.org the Turkish Ottomans were also known for setting up lavish tents for a variety of occasions, including military campaigns, ceremonies and celebrations, and country excursions by the sultans and company. The imperial tents were essentially moving palaces.
During the 20th century, traveling to Africa on safari became the adventure of choice for the rich American and British traveler. These trips were organized for the upper crust to try their hand at hunting Africa’s dangerous game including, lions, leopards, rhinoceroses, elephants, and Cape buffaloes.
Despite their willingness to endure the rough edges of Africa, the wealthy had no interest in giving up the comforts of home. Safari tents were well-equipped with all the luxuries which the rich were accustomed to, including electric generators, folding baths, and cases of champagne.
The rise in interest for glamping adventures in the 1990s is attributed to the international financial crisis which hindered foreign travel and began the staycation trend. People started looking for a new and affordable way to go on holiday. With very little camping experience and a lot of hotel experience, people, as a result, invented a new way of traveling – glamping.
According to Google Trends, people began searching for the word “glamping” in earnest in 2007. Most of the searches came from Ireland and the U.K. By 2010 glamping was well established, and by 2014 it had become well established in the U.S.
I’ve worked part time in the tourism industry in the Yucatan of Mexico over the last 15 years. While I never heard the word glamping, I spent many weeks in tents on permanent foundations deep in the jungles of the Yucatan. Luxuries included air conditioners and hot showers.
My good friend Jordi Gene from the Yucatan is heavily involved in the renovation of a hacienda and lands first begun in the 1730s. The enormous building is still in great shape. To be a new state park, the 10,000 acres will include large areas for glamping in the jungles. Hacienda Tabi will truly be in a glamping class all its own.
The boys and I settled into the glamping unit in McDole Field quickly. Nick took the big bed. Ronnie I wanted to sleep outside, but heavy rains forced us inside. Ample room for two cots took care of us.
Our trio reveled in the gorgeous surroundings of Maramec Spring Park, the solitude and the quiet of the hills and hollows around our glamping site. Deer and wild turkey made appearances and we rose early to catch rainbow trout for breakfast.
Glamping at Maramec provided a unique experience that we will long remember. I did, however, dream of tipis and attacks by Genghis Khan. I’m going to talk to management about installing a wine fountain, too.