Love nature but don't enjoy "roughing it"? Nilou Moutamed of Travel + Leisure Magazine shares vacation destinations for "glamping"—that's glamorous camping—in unique lodgings like tree houses and teepees.
Camping is a classic summer vacation for so many. If you love the idea of being outdoors, but don’t want to rough it, there is a growing number of hotels and resorts that provide a real back-to-nature experience (with prices that won’t break the bank). Here are some highlights, from luxury cabins to treehouses to cool tents.
Tree House Lodge, Limon, Costa Rica
Courtesy of Tree House Lodge
The Beach House lies 260 feet from from the Caribbean shoreline, allowing visitors to lie in bed and watch waves lap the beach. The Tree House Lodge in Costa Rica has three other bunglaows in the Gandoca-Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge.
Located in the Gandoca-Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge on Costa Rica’s southern Caribbean coast, this 10-acre beachfront property has four individual bungalows with wide-open canopy views made from fallen tropical hardwoods. The most dramatic of these — the eponymous Tree House — is a bi-level cottage built around the trunk of a rare sangrillo tree. Inside you’ll find a bamboo-walled shower and an elevated master bedroom reached by crossing a palm-thatched suspension bridge. Relax at Punta Uva beach or in the property’s gardens with more than 50 kinds of palm trees, exotic birds and howler monkeys. Doubles from $200
Lakedale Resort at Three Lakes, San Juan Islands, Washington
Hop the ferry from Seattle to reach this resort amid 83 woodsy acres in one of the prettiest parts of the Pacific Northwest. Choose a room in the lodge or stay in an Airstream or one of 15 comfortable tent cabins. Their standard canvas tent cabins, open from May 1 through the end of summer, have queen beds with pillow top bedding. Their fanciest tent cabin, the “Canvas Cottage,” offers a king bed, its own full bathroom, a chandelier and electricity in a lakeside setting. The islands are great for whale watching (best from May through October), biking and kayaking. Doubles from $149
Wandawega Treehouse, Wisconsin
The latest addition to the retro-styled Wandawega — a 1920s resort 90 minutes from Chicago — is a three-level treehouse built around the trunk of an old elm. The airy structure is stocked with sheepskin pillows and vintage Pendleton blankets and crowned with a chandelier of fallen antlers. The mood is appealingly quaint — instead of TVs, there are puzzles and an antique pool table. The sleeping loft has three glass walls that look out on the pike-filled lake. Be sure to reserve at least a month in advance as the treehouse is popular for weddings and other events. Doubles from $200
Endemico Resguardo Silvestre, Baja California, Mexico
Poised on a hillside overlooking Mexican wine country, Endemico Resguardo Silvestre just won a Travel + Leisure Design Award for best small hotel. Each of the 20 crisply modern cabins has its own terrace warmed by an adobe fireplace, with views of the rugged valley. The 99-acre site also has a swimming pool, a winery and a restaurant. Doubles from $200
El Cosmico, Marfa, Texas
Hotelier Liz Lambert has created the ultimate retreat for people looking to get away from it all. Located on an 18-acre plot, the property is a collection of safari tents, expertly restored vintage travel trailers (including two Spartans and a Vagabond), a teepee and a “hammock grove” for relaxing. The safari tents are 120 square feet and feature wood floors, weatherproof fabric walls, queen sized futons, simple lighting and an electrical outlet. Doubles from $65
Orca Island Cabins, Alaska
You’ll stay in yurts at this resort on a private island in Humpy Cove on Resurrection Bay, nine miles southeast of Seward, Alaska. Each solar-powered yurt has its own deck overlooking the bay and a barbecue grill as well as queen beds, private bathrooms, and kitchens with a propane range. It’s an ideal base for fishers, kayakers, and wildlife enthusiasts. From $199/person per night including round-trip 9-mile water taxi ride to Orca Island from Seward, as well as use of kayaks and fishing gear.
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