If your idea of camping is spending the night at the nearest Holiday Inn, then this newest trend in outdoor living might be just for you.
“Glamping” is glamour plus camping. It’s the new way to “take some of the bugs” out of camping, combining the fun of camping with the comfort and luxury of a five-star hotel.
Michigan’s first “Glampground,” Bella Solviva, located 45 miles northeast of Traverse City, is planning a soft opening this July, featuring the ultimate camping experience.
Calling itself “a comfy camping eco-resort,” Bella Solviva is created for outdoor adventure enthusiasts and campers who want a destination where they can experience the positive aspects of outdoor living without the negatives, such as bugs, not showering, etc.
“We grew up camping, but you get to the point when you feel like you’re in a volunteer refugee camp,” said Bella Solviva co-owner Brad Carlson, with his wife, Sandy. “We thought, what if you got to your campground and everything was set up for you; the tent was up, the firewood was stacked. The concept for Bella Solviva just grew from there.”
A variety of accommodations totaling 230 campsites will be available, from safari tents with hot water and WiFi, to teepees with full bedding, tree houses, vintage RVs, yachts and cabins and more.
You can even rent an airliner suite, complete with a flight simulator, for $749 per night in the peak summer season. Traditional camp sites, with many amenities, start at $89 per night.
To learn more about other destinations, you might want to check out https://glampinghub.com/, the world's leading portal in luxury accommodations in nature.
However, you can do a bit of “glamping” on your own, simply by adding a bit of luxury, comfort and glamour into your family’s own camping experience.
Here are a few ideas to “glam up” your own camping experience:
Where you sleep at night truly makes the difference between a camping and “glamping” experience.
If you like to tent camp, kick it up a notch and buy a large tent, even if it’s just for two people. For maximum comfort, it should be large enough to stand up in, and wide enough to accommodate bed-size comfortable air mattresses.
Another option would be to buy a themed tent, like a teepee, or build your own A-frame wooden structure.
Consider glamping in a campervan or vintage caravan.
To get yourself “off the ground,” buy faux wood, vinyl roll-up flooring that you can lay down and cover with plush sheepskin rugs.
Nothing but a quality air mattress that looks and feels like a regular bed will do, topped with a mattress topper, either goose down or memory foam for warmth and comfort. Top with an all-season duvet or goose down blankets. Make sure you have an airbed that inflates with an electric pump.
Use the best linens you can afford and plump up with pillows. For the ultimate in glamping luxury, drape and swirl muslin around your bed. Don’t forget eye masks and ear plugs for the best night’s sleep.
Bring thick, luxurious towels in bath sheet size, to make comfort out of whatever your camping amenities are.
Indulge yourself with the best in personal toiletries, so you feel like you’re on a spa vacation.
Food and drink
Think beyond hot dogs and canned foods when pre-planning your glamping meals. Whip up campsite cocktails and plan simple, yet memorable meals for your campsite (see sidebar for glamping meal ideas).
For the ultimate in your glamping space, you can use a Bass Pro deluxe camp kitchen with counter space for meal prep, plus shelving, hooks and hangers to keep everything organized, easily transportable with its own carrying case.
Rather than eating on paper plates, why not dine on pretty enamel dishes or unbreakable dishes from Corelle, and use silverware instead of plastic. Use cake stands with tops (to keep out the bugs) for serving dessert, looking at local thrift stores for affordable choices.
Accessorize your glamping space
Use lighting outside to mark the boundary of your campsite with candles in glass containers for safety.
To set a festive mood, use battery or solar-powered themed decorative lights.
Bunting has become the ultimate glamping accessory, easy to make yourself or easily be purchased on crafty sites like etsy.com.
Glamping meal ideas
There’s more to camp food than just hot dogs on a stick. Here are a few recipes from Rachael Ray on the Food Network, designed to be prepared under the open sky:
Grilled Pinwheel Steaks and Roasted Broccoli
These are easy to assemble ahead of time and pack in your cooler to grill at your campsite.
2 1 ¼- to 1 ½-pound skirt steaks, trimmed
Extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling
Kosher salt and coarse black pepper
Zest of two lemons, divided
4 T. rosemary, stemmed and coarsely chopped
8 cloves garlic, 4 finely chopped, 4 coarsely chopped
2 cups loosely packed flat-leaf parsley
1 ½ to 2 cups large, shaved curls of Parmigiano-Reggiano (use a veggie peeler)
3 bundles baby broccoli, trimmed
1 ½ t. crushed red pepper flakes
1 large red milk pepper, seeded and thinly sliced lengthwise.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Prepare outdoor grill or grill pan to medium-high heat.
Unroll steaks and light pound to an even thickness, about ¼- to ½-inch thick. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Scatter zest of one lemon on each steak. Halve the zested lemons for grilling and reserve. Top the meat with rosemary and chopped garlic, and scatter a layer of parsley over the top, one cup of leaves per steak. Top the parsley with shaved cheese.
Carefully wrap and roll the steaks into large pinwheels. Tie the center of each steak tightly with butcher twine at the center, then tie 2 or more pieces of string on either side, about 1-inch in from the edges. Cut each steak evenly, spacing your knife between the strings, to form six pinwheels each, about 1½-inches thick and 4 inches in diameter.
On a baking sheet, toss thin florets of broccoli with salt, pepper, crushed red pepper, sliced garlic and coat lightly with olive oil. Roast 15 to 18 minutes until crispy at edges and just tender.
Brush or spray grill with canola or olive oil and grill the meat about 8 minutes, turning over until desired doneness. Grill lemon halves cut-side down for 2-3 minutes to caramelize. Douse pinwheels with grilled lemon juice and serve with roasted broccoli.
Chunky Bleu Cheese Cheddar Burgers with Spicy Aioli
2 lbs. ground sirloin or chuck
½ cup Worcestershire sauce
2 T. grainy Dijon mustard
2 T. prepared horseradish
Kosher salt and coarse black pepper
Melted butter, for basting
12 oz. sliced sharp white cheddar cheese
6 burger rolls, toasted
Green leaf or butter lettuce leaves
Sliced beefsteak tomatoes
1 Vidalia or other mild sweet onion, sliced
For the chunky bleu cheese aioli:
1 cup mayo
6 oz. crumbled bleu cheese
2 T. finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 T. grainy Dijon mustard
1 large clove garlic, grated or pasted
In a large bowl, combine beef, Worcestershire, Dijon and horseradish; season with salt and pepper. Shape into 6 patties. Cook on griddle or cast iron skillet over medium-high heat, turning occasionally and basting with melted butter, about 8 minutes for medium rare. Top with cheddar and cover for last minute or two until cheese melts.
Divide the cheeseburgers among roll bottoms, spread the aioli on the roll tops. Top burgers with lettuce, tomato, onion and roll tops.