Updated Jan 2017
When I think of vacation, I almost always imagine some tropical oasis with mai tais and a giant pool by the beach. Or perhaps a walk through cobblestoned European avenues, enjoying gelato or crepes, sipping wine and taking in the beauty of well-planned garden cities.
Camping? No. Never makes it on the list. I’ve never been, so maybe I don’t know what I’m missing. But the idea that was somewhat enticing as a child of braving the elements in a tent in unconditioned air, with the snakes, spiders, mosquitos and late night surprise meetings with creatures unknown as I stumble through the woods to use the restroom all seem…unappealing. Especially with the current era of fire pits in every hotel and backyard. I can make s’mores and tell stories by the fire here, thank you!
Then a few years ago, the buzzword started to pop up all the time – glamping. Merging traditional camping with top of the line accommodations and luxury services that give you the “feel” of camping without all the dirt, discomfort and absence of modern amenities we’re all spoiled with. And the glamping resorts listed here could challenge my ability to maintain that record of never having been camping. They take experiencing the rustic great outdoors to a higher level of luxury.
Kasbah Tamadot, Morocco
Situated in the Atlas Mountains in Asni, a small Berber village, Kasbah Tamadot is owned by Sir Richard Branson as a Virgin property. The resort offers a luxurious stay on the mountainside with spectacular views, a large infinity pool, heated indoor pool, a tented lounge, roof terrace, courtyards, gardens, outdoor pop up cinema, spa, tennis courts, and a gym.
To get the full Moroccan experience, the resort offers treks to the mountains or local villages, cooking courses, excursions to waterfalls, local villages, mosques, the city of Marrakech, and even taking tea in a nearby Berber home.
It really doesn’t seem like glamping at all until you get to your room and it feels like the outdoors has been brought right into your luxury Berber tent. Each has a private deck with sun loungers to enjoy the views as well as outdoor dining spaces and private Jacuzzi. Starting from $1,072 per night.
Four Seasons Safari Lodge, Serengeti, Tanzania
Nestled within an African game reserve within Serengeti National Park, Four Seasons Safari Lodge offers all-inclusive luxury safari adventures to see lions, elephants and leopards up close and personal. The lodge offers luxury amenities like an infinity pool, terrace bar, spa, and fitness center.
You can also experience activities like safari photography, hot air balloon rides, picnics in the bush, and a visit to the Discovery Centre to learn about African culture, history and the local Masaai people.
The suites and villas offer floor to ceiling glass doors that open up for a tent-like experience as well as private terrace sun decks with infinity pools to experience the outdoors in full style. Starting from $1,580 per night.
Singita Ebony Lodge, South Africa
The Singita Ebony Lodge sits on the banks of the Sand River in a privately owned game reserve in the Sabi Reserve. The lodge is all-inclusive, with a pool, spa, gym, boutique shop, wine shop, and library. Activities provided include Land Rover safaris to see leopard, lion, rhino, large herds of buffalo, elephant, reedbuck, hyena, hippopotamus, nyala, and cheetah, mountain biking, and guided bush walks.
It offers true exclusivity with just 12 suites, each with en-suite bathrooms, indoor-outdoor showers, private heated plunge pools, and large game viewing decks. Starting from $1,870 per night.
Makanyane Safari Lodge, South Africa
Offering the ultimate exclusive luxury safari experience, Makanyane Safari Lodge has only 8 suites with glass fronts opening unmitigated views of the riverside forest and wildlife. Located on the Madikwe Game Reserve, the resort hosts guided safaris and game walks to see lion, elephant, black and white rhino, buffalo, leopard, cheetah, giraffe and both spotted and brown hyena.
The main lodge has a lounge, dining area, curio shop, library, an extensive wine cellar, as well as an outdoor deck overlooking a waterhole often visited by game. The resort also has a spa, infinity pool and gym.
The eight luxurious, secluded suites, each overlook the Marico River. Each suite has an front-view lounge, private sundeck, and spacious bathroom with indoor and outdoor showers. The entire front of the en-suite bathroom can be opened to the bush. Starting from $405 per person, per night.
Chiawa Camp, Zambia
Located on the banks of the Zambezi River in the Lower Zambezi National Park, Chiawa Camp presents guests with a luxuriously rustic experience with superbly appointed tents under a grove of evergreen Mahogany trees. The tents all have timber floors with verandas offering excellent views, indoor and outdoor showers and baths.
Compared to some of the other resorts, Chiawa Camp seems to offer more of the natural, rustic and safari experience. Safari options include day or night driven game excursions, bush walks, canoe trips, river boat safaris, fishing, and safari photography. Inquire for pricing.
Mustang Monument Eco-Resort, Nevada
A preserve for 650 wild horses, Mustang Monument is a sustainable resort that sits on over 900 miles of rustic Nevada land providing guests with wild west adventure combined with luxury tipis and cottages.
The resort offers all-inclusive amenities with customized packages including activities like outdoor safari adventures, horse rides through the mountains, range shooting, campfires, ropes course, archery, rappelling, horse-drawn wagon rides, and fireside tales of the American heritage and Wild West.
In-tipi spa treatments are also offered for those seeking a little pampering. Guests have an option of staying in luxury cottages or tipis…and really the tipis for the glamping experience. Starting from $1,650 per night.