They’re popping up everywhere, from Mexico to Laos—and luxury travelers can’t get enough. Here’s why.
At one point in the mid-2010s, “glamping” became a four-letter word.
A sudden boom in upscale tented accommodations—which ultimately felt neither glamorous nor like camping—saw the trend go from boom to bust as quickly as spaghetti donuts and ramen burgers.
But now, glamping is back, and the glamour factor is through the canvas roof.
Everywhere from Luang Prabang to New South Wales, Tulum to Costa Rica—even in the heart of New York—hoteliers are ditching bricks and mortar walls and ceilings for safari-style tents, many with free-standing bath tubs, fireplaces, wood floors, and outdoor dual-head rain showers. The concept has become so high-end, “glamping” no longer does it justice.
For travelers, the experience offers novelty, digital disconnection, and access to experiences that are at once authentic and Instagrammable (when you get back on Wi-Fi). Think interacting with rescued elephants in northern Thailand at Four Season’s Golden Triangle tented camp, or hot air ballooning over the Rocky Mountains from the Resort at Paws Up, in Montana.
Why They’re (Mostly) Great for Business
According to Franco, the master tent-builder, hoteliers who invest in tented projects can expect to generate 20 percent to 40 percent more in revenues than their six-star bricks-and-mortar counterparts, and construction costs can be as much as 50 percent lower—particularly in cases where the tents are just one part of an existing resort that has already established the necessary infrastructure. Still, this doesn’t make these camps affordable or easy to build.
“We are in the luxury or beyond-luxury categories,” explains Franco, “so everything has to be truly custom.” When one leading hospitality brand asked him to design a tent that could be replicated in Turkey, the Bahamas, Marrakesh, and Mexico, he said no: “All these places have different climates. There’s no wind in Turkey, but in Holbox, Mexico, the wind is very strong; in the Bahamas, you need tents that can be completely removable for hurricane season; in Tulum, you need something fit for the jungle; and in Morocco, you have extreme heat to deal with.”