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This New Glamping Hotel in an Unlikely Destination Has 3…
Come to Illinois's newly opened Sankoty Lakes for the fishing, stay for sunsets.
I canceled my dinner reservations. The view outside was simply too inviting to forgo for a meal. So instead, on a warm autumn day, I flung open my safari-style tent to find the most dazzling sunset I’ve ever seen and drank it in until the last burnt-orange glow disappeared below the horizon. This gorgeous scene was exactly what I expected to find at Sankoty Lakes, a divine little glamping outfitter 12 miles north of Peoria, Illinois.
Sankoty Lakes, which opened its doors (or rather, its tent flaps) in 2021 just a tad inland from the Illinois River, is an adventure retreat both for fishing fans and those look to, frankly, do nothing at all.
All 20 tents, open from April to November, are much more than your average pop-up. Each comes with electric heaters to stay cozy when the temperature drops at night and feature a kitchenette, bedroom, bath, and dining table that seats up to six guests (including your pup, as this is a pet-friendly space), just in case you’d like to throw a little dinner party.
The tents also each come with a private outdoor area, including a picnic table and a fire pit, with bundles of wood brought to your tent, so you never have to lift a finger. Need even more space? The two-bedroom-plus-loft tents have a bunk room and seating area to further spread out with friends and family. However, the best part about these chic-meets-rustic accommodations is the easy access to the water. Just outside the tents is a trout stream absolutely brimming with fish. And yes, poles are provided for you to take advantage of during the trout season, which runs from spring to fall.
It’s a destination that feels so untouched and so unique that I actually had a moment while enjoying a berry salad with salmon at The Woolly Bugger, the on-site restaurant, that I forgot I was in Illinois.
Crafted by Jennifer Rickelman, or “chef Jen” as she’s lovingly known here, the menu features foraged items alongside local products like Kilgus Farmstead’s hamburger patties, Ropp Jersey Cheese’s cheddar, Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery’s goat cheese, and Hartz Produce’s organic fruits and vegetables.
And while the fishing is certainly a highlight, there are plenty of other activities to try, including kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, canoeing, and pontoon boating. Those exhausted after a long day of casting can also book massages, which come to you in the comfort of your own tent.
It’s a place that seems to go on forever, and to make sure you see and do it all, Kim Marsh, the resort manager, suggests every guest takes a golf cart for a spin, to navigate the dirt roads and bridges that arch above the on-site streams and ponds.
Sankoty Lakes feels like a lens into what’s to come in Midwestern hospitality and is already attracting guests from all over the globe. “[These guests] came from Iran specifically for this,” Marsh shared about one of the groups next to my tent. “They wanted to come to the Midwest and glamp.”
Gazing out over any of of the property’s three lakes, taking in the Caribbean-reminiscent beach cabanas and Adirondack chair–lined patios, I knew my neighbors had the right idea — and I hope more international travelers follow their lead.
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