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September 2017

Mountain Spy :: September 2017

SAM goes undercover to ask, "What is Glamping?"

Written by Dave Meeker | 0 comment


We mixed things up a bit this time around. Instead of calling mountain resorts and asking if they have glamping, or even know what it is, we called some friends and family (folks who would likely be your customers) to ask them. The idea was to see how much education would be required if your resort decided to offer this burgeoning, high-yielding experience to your guests (see “Roughing It?” on p. 44 in the September issue of SAM). Judging by the responses of those we called, glamorous camping is familiar to some, but a mystery to others. Depending on your perspective, that spells opportunity.

One of the most important ingredients to any glamping experience is the setting. Just look at the responses here: they want views, beauty, wildlife—all of which are inherent assets of mountain resorts. Perhaps it’s time to start thinking about how you can capitalize on this growing trend.

As always, if you have a question we can use for Mountain Spy, email it to me, Dave Meeker ( I know you’ve got ‘em. Send them along. If I use your question, I won’t call you.


Active family, three teenagers, all skiers. Grew up camping and kids go to camp.
SAM: What is glamping?
Mom: Oh, I know what glamping is. It's fancy camping in some sort of prearranged tent where the bed is not on the ground. You get a very nice meal being served around a campfire. And key to the glamping, there is prearranged bug spray so no bugs or critters.
SAM: What’s your ideal glamping location?
Mom: In some game reserve in Africa, but out of reach of animals and spiders. Also, I would do glamping in a place like Yellowstone before I would stay in a hotel.


Both are lawyers, early 30s, ski 3-4 times a year
: What is glamping?
Her: Isn’t that fancy camping or something?
Him: Oh yeah, I’ve heard of this: “glamor camping.” It’s camping without the sleeping on the ground, being cold, or ridiculously inedible freeze-dried foods.
SAM: Yeah, that’s about right. What is your ideal glamping location?
Her: Ooooohh, maybe someplace warm, a beach in the Caribbean, perhaps?
Him: Does a hotel count?
(The conversation developed into a debate about the amenities required to be considered “glamping,” and if it’s any different than staying in a hotel.)


Active, outdoorsy family with a teenager, all skiers
SAM: What is Glamping?
Mom: (laughs) Glamping? Oh, ahh… I don’t know. (laughs more) Something to do with being glamorous or latching on to someone glamorous?
SAM: Kinda. (explained what glamping is)
Mom: (still laughing)
SAM: Now that you know what it is, what’s your ideal glamping location?
Mom: Utah. Zion National Park.


Originally from S. Africa, family of four, snowboarder, world traveler
SAM: What is glamping?
Guy: Glamping?
SAM: Yeah.
Guy: Um, sounds like someone that’s wearing more makeup than what the weather warrants at a ski area.
SAM: It’s, ahh…nope.
Guy: I’ve never heard the term before, but to me it sounds like someone who has clearly not been to a ski area much before and is dressed inappropriately with too much makeup on, and too much jewelry, and it’s kind of impractical for them to be at a ski area in that getup.
SAM: Ha! So that would make he or she a glamper?
Guy: Yeah, right?
SAM: Sure. But in this case, glamping is short for glamorous camping. (explained in more detail what a typical glamping tent is)
Guy: Oh, OK. Sure. There’s a lot of that in the game reserve in South Africa. There are these luxury lodges, but people feel kind of separated from really being in the environment. So they have these permanent tents, which are really nice. So you’re in a tent, but you have all the modern conveniences. You still feel like you’re out in the bush, and not in a hotel that’s all insulated.
SAM: That’s it right there.
Guy: Yeah, so I’m familiar with the concept, I’ve just never heard it called glamping.
SAM: So, what would be your ideal glamping location?
Guy: (pause) Umm. (pause) You know, I think someplace where there’s wildlife. The ones down in South Africa seem to be in the ideal spots for me. The mountains here in Vermont wouldn’t be bad, either. Less things that can eat you.
SAM: That’s an important consideration.


Age 28, tele skier, avid camper
SAM: What is glamping?
Guy: Heh. Glamor camping.
SAM: Exactly. What do you picture when you think glamping?
Guy: Ohhh, geez. Well, my opinion of it is: why bother camping if you’re gonna glamp? Part of the experience of camping for me is unplugging and getting away from luxurious comforts that we get used to. Glamping is all about bringing those comforts along with you. I’ve never really understood it. To me, glamping is, like, an RV with cable and a bathroom and electricity, and just bringing your everyday life with you to a different location.
SAM: (laughs) Well, tell me how you really feel.
Guy: Ha! Just did.
SAM: If you were forced to glamp in a glamping tent, what would be your ideal location?
Guy: I would want to be on a mountain, at elevation, with a view of other mountains.
SAM: So, would you ever go glamping?
Guy: (pause) I mean, I’m sure I would (laughs). Given the choice, I’d rather camp. But if a group of friends said, “Hey man, we just rented a phatass, canvas-walled cabin and we’re going glamping for a week,” I would go.
SAM: Even if they called it “glamping?”
Guy: Sometimes you have to make exceptions.


Age 25, skier/snowboarder, well traveled
SAM: What is glamping?
Girl: (laughs) It’s like when you go camping, but instead of a tent and no bathroom and stuff, it’s, umm, more glamorous. It’s either a much nicer, more decked out tent, or a camper, or even like a little cabin sometimes. And more utilities than you’d normally have, like electricity and all that.
SAM: You know more about this than most people I’ve spoken to.
Girl: Really? I wonder what that says about me?! (laughs)
SAM: It just means you are up on the trends. Have you ever been?
Girl: No, I haven’t. But I plan to!
SAM: What would be your ideal glamping location? Anywhere in the world.
Girl: That’s so tough! Anywhere? Oh, geez. That’s way too difficult. A lot of pressure.
SAM: Big decision. You’re not committing to anything, though, I promise.
Girl: (talking it through to herself)
SAM: Please tell me you’re not Googling it for ideas.
Girl: I’m not, but I should be. I think just a mountaintop somewhere. Is that too general?
SAM: Nope. That works. Didn’t mean to stress you out.


Soon-to-be-retired grandmother. Birder, gardener, road tripper.
SAM: What is glamping?
Mom: (pause) Huh?
SAM: Glamping. Have you ever heard of it?
Mom: G-l-a-?
SAM: Yeah, g-l-a-m-p-i-n-g.
Mom: Never heard of it.
SAM: Any guesses?
Mom: Nope.
SAM: It’s short for glamorous camping.
Mom: Oh, stop. Really?
SAM: Yeah. (explained what glamping is)
Mom: (pause) So, when are you doing that?
SAM: Ha! I don’t know. Hopefully sometime soon! Now that you know what it is, what would be your ideal glamping location?
Mom: Ooohh. Seaside. Yeah, definitely seaside. Or Webb Lake (Maine).
SAM: Nice. Now that you’re retiring we should make that happen.
Mom: You tell me, honey. Sounds like fun. I’m ready.
SAM: Cool. Thanks, ma. Talk to you later.
Mom: Yup. Don’t forget to refill your hummingbird feeder.


TV/radio producer, traveler, family of four
SAM: What is glamping?
Guy: Oh, yeah yeah. That’s like, ah, high-end camping. Pretty popular term. I’ve read a bit about it. Looks like they’re high-end tents with electricity and stuff like that. You’re technically outdoors, but not really. It’s like the Pottery Barn of camping. You feel like you’re camping, but…
SAM: Sounds about right.
Guy: Yeah, you go to Fairfield County (Conn.) and that’s the target demographic for it, I’d imagine. Those folks aren’t gonna pop up a Coleman tent and start a fire. They want it set up for them. It’s better than not going at all, though, right?
SAM: For sure.
Guy: It’s like, the tents have Wi-Fi, and there are no seams in the tent where an animal or a bug could actually get in. And you don’t have to pee in the woods if you don’t want to.
SAM: Moving on, what would be your ideal glamping location?
Guy: Umm. Maybe, like, New York City on top of a Brownstone? You could see all the city sights and the star in the sky. So, you’re outside and in the elements, kind of, but still in the city.
SAM: Not quite sure if that fits the mold, but you may be on to something.
Guy: Don’t steal my idea.


Financial analyst, family of four, lives in suburbia, frequents the mountains
SAM: What is glamping?
Guy: Glamping is camping in a glamorous setting.
SAM: What do you mean?
Guy: So, there are places, like a campground, that have campsites that are decked out with luxurious stuff. It’s like the opposite of rustic. It’s like luxurious rustic. So comfort and fancier things are the main goal. There are a couple places in California, one of them has some decked-out Airstreams you can stay in. That kind of thing. You can love it or hate it.
SAM: Right. Which side are you on?
Guy: I mean, what’s there to hate? Rugged camping is awesome, but who doesn’t want a comfy bed, awesome food, all the comforts?
SAM: Where would be your ideal glamping location?
Guy: Big Sur, California. Right on the shore. I feel like that would be the Platonic form of glamping.
SAM: (laughing) It might actually exist there.
Guy: Maybe channeling Plato isn’t the most appropriate thing for glamping, but that’s what I would think.


Age 36, lives on the coast, police officer, skier
SAM: What is glamping?
Guy: What is what?
SAM: Glamping.
Guy: You know—I feel like I’ve heard of it, but can’t think of what it is.
SAM: It’s short for glamorous camping.
Guy: OK.
SAM: (explained it in more detail)
Guy: That’s pretty funny. Sounds sweet.
SAM: Knowing what it is, where would be your ideal glamping location?
Guy: Probably a Caribbean island. Or on the coast of Alaska.
SAM: Those are both very different spots.
Guy: But both are freaking awesome. So, when are we going?
SAM: Soon.


Small business owner, age 29, lives in a city
SAM: What is glamping?
Guy: What is what? What are you talking about? Is this some crazy newfangled trend you kids are getting into these days?
SAM: (explained what glamping is)
Guy: OK…that sounds like something your mother would do.
SAM: What would be your idea glamping location?
Guy: Mongolia!
SAM: Why Mongolia?
Guy: Because I’ve never been and I hear the way to see it is by horseback, and if I am going to ride horses all day I don’t want to sleep on the cold hard ground at night. It’s not like I have a 22 year old tush anymore!
SAM: Understood, but, TMI.


Freelancer, age 31, world traveler, skier, grew up camping
SAM: What is glamping?
Girl: Oooohh, I’ve done that! It was so much fun! We had these really nice tents with beds and duvet covers. We did the “camping” thing with cooking over the bonfire, but I didn’t hate myself in the morning.
SAM: Well, since you’ve done it, do you have an ideal glamping location?
Girl: Hmmm, I don’t know, where I did it was in a forest so I’d love to go somewhere with a view. Maybe on a mountain where the ground isn’t soft so I don’t feel as guilty about luxing-up my experience of “roughing it.”