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Splendor in the Grass

0416
 2020


Story by Sharon Jayson 
Photos by Sarah Beal 


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When is camping not camping? When the traditional tiny tent is replaced with a cabin, castle, cottage, barn, dome, boxcar, hut, igloo, cave, tiny house, teepee, tree house, yurt or some other surprising, glamorous or kitschy accommodation, that’s not camping. That’s glamping. 

The trend is so mainstream the word is in the dictionary. A popular mashup of glamour and camping, this luxury experience takes the sting out of traditional camping. That means a roof, a door, a bed or three or four, a couch and probably a bathroom and small kitchen.

It’s rustic meets deluxe in the great outdoors. Soak up as much nature as you need and then retreat into your temperature-controlled, bug-free swanky spot. Some glamping locations are still tents, but they’re bigger, sturdier and decked out with fine essentials that eclipse your traditional little cookstove and a pair of folding chairs.

Glamping is a global phenomenon, and the region in and around Bluebonnet Electric Cooperative's service area offers some diverse getaways. Glamping locations can be found anywhere — from deep in the woods to a riverbank or on a ranch — and the types of accommodations vary wildly.

Keep in mind that camping with comfort and amenities comes with a price tag. A 220-square-foot cottage that sleeps two at The Liney Moon in Dripping Springs, west of Austin, could cost $149 a night. For a bit more luxury, the Spartan Mansion at Green Acres, a tiny house in Elgin, has rates starting at $195 a night. Or, for a longer drive and swankier set-up, there’s Summit Tent at the Collective Hill Country in Wimberley, 15 miles northwest of San Marcos. Expect to pay $300 to $600 a night, excluding taxes and fees that vary seasonally. That gets you complimentary breakfast, 1,500 thread-count linens, luxe surroundings and packages that offer even more perks (at a higher price).

“Glamping is all about making where you stay, why you stay,” said Jessica Armstrong, partnerships manager at Glamping Hub, a global website with more than 32,000 listings in more than 110 countries.

Davis Ranch Retreat, a 40-acre haven about 30 miles south of Bastrop, is one such local glamping spot with a variety of accommodations. It offers campgrounds, a casita, a bunkhouse, bed-and-breakfast rooms and a tree house constructed by Pete Nelson and crew from Animal Planet’s television series, “Treehouse Masters.” The tree house, about 12 feet above ground, was featured on the show. 

“I first rented it (out) the week after the show aired in June 2013. It’s been rented ever since,” said ranch owner Monica Davis, a Bluebonnet member. She sometimes reserves the tree house for family members, and it’s not available when she’s on vacation. “Other than that, the tree house is booked every weekend,” she said.

Glamping fulfills travelers’ desires for wellness getaways and ecotourism, and it creates memories of unique experiences unavailable at cookie-cutter hotels or motels. Psychological research shows that experiences bring people greater happiness than possessions, so glamping is made-to-order for an unforgettable experience amid the sights and sounds of nature. With fire pits, grills, Big Green Egg ceramic cookers or Yeti coolers, the upscale accommodations let visitors immerse themselves in the outdoors yet sleep peacefully on real beds. And sometimes there’s Wi-Fi.

The glamping market in the United States is projected to grow by more than 15% a year and generates revenue of about $1 billion by 2024, according to a 2019 report from Arizton, a market research firm. Within this burgeoning industry are global trade shows for operators, such as The Glamping Show in England held every September or the U.S. version of the show near Denver in October. There’s also a Glamping Business International trade magazine, as well as the nonprofit American Glamping Association, founded in 2018. Websites such as glampinghub.com and glamping.com offer worldwide booking options. The most popular accommodations listed on Glamping Hub are cabins, tree houses and yurts, said Armstrong, the Glamping Hub executive. But tiny houses, typically about 200 square feet with room for only two people, “exploded in a unique way” over the past year, she said.

Glamping Hub began accepting online bookings in 2014. Glamping.com launched in 2013 and now offers bookings for approximately 850 sites around the world. Linda Clark, the website’s director of sales, said visitors are attracted to the opportunity of convenient and comfortable outdoor experiences.

“People are more willing these days to think outside of the box,” she said. 

Glamping venues

Due to the changing nature of federal, state, regional and local restrictions related to the coronavirus crisis, please contact the featured venues directly for up-to-date information about availability and reservations. See contact information below.

Davis Ranch Retreat
1110 Peach Creek Road
Waelder, TX 78959
davisranchretreat.com
512-921-1500

Flophouze Hotel
1132 W. FM 1291
Round Top, TX 78954
flophouze.com
979-353-2627

Lake Bastrop North Shore Park
603 FM 1441
Bastrop, TX 78602
tinyurl.com/rokgul4
512-578-4816

Lone Star Glamp Inn
4212 Texas 237
Round Top, TX 78954
lonestarglampinn.com
512-797-9815

Wahwahtaysee Resort
17062-17002 FM 20
Kingsbury, TX 78638
wahwahtayseeresort.com
512-413-4596

Download this story as it appeared in the Texas Co-op Power magazine »
 

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