Glamour + camping = glamping. (Does it add up for you?)
"Glamping" is taking root in Washington. Here's a roundup of a few standout commercial glampsites, from Eastern Washington wine country to the San Juan Islands.
Special to The Seattle Times
Do it yourself
Glamping can be spontaneous, too
A recent camping trip in the Skagit Valley with a dozen women, sans children and husbands, quickly morphed into "glamping" — complete with evening dress-up (stilettos, feather boas and false eyelashes required, dahrling), party lights strung between two Silver Streak travel trailers, a large bar area for liquid refreshment and a dozen folding lounge chairs around a campfire to make s'mores and talk about life. Some of us rented lovely tents from REI (only $22 for a weekend and easy to put up, even with a boa flinging in the breeze), while others shared quarters in the trailers, which had kitchens and bathrooms, taking all the "roughing" out of it. We enjoyed it so much that we're thinking it's a must-have annual event. But next time, do they make stilettos that don't sink in the dirt?
— Cathy Henkel
If You Go
What to look for
Glampsites, like regular campsites, differ greatly. And luxury is defined differently at each commercial glamping venue. When considering a glampsite, questions you might ask include:
• What does the rental rate include? (Example, some offer free Wi-Fi, others don't.)
• Is the rate per person or per night? Is there a minimum stay requirement?
• What special events and activities are offered, and at what cost?
• Are children and/or pets welcome?
• What are the food/cooking options? If campfires or barbecues are available, what in the way of utensils, cookware, plates are provided? Will you have a table or are tables shared? Distance to nearby restaurants? The rules governing alcohol consumption?
• If location and type of toilet and shower facilities are a concern, ask (they vary).
Remember, glamping — although cushy — is still a form of camping, so don't forget the bug repellent, sunscreen and Band-Aids.
For worldwide glamping information: goglamping.net
Northwest travel guides
ZILLAH, Yakima County — A slight breeze kept us from lighting a campfire, so as the temperatures dropped along with the setting sun it didn't take much encouragement to head for the tepee.
Yes ... tepee. One of those conical-shaped dwellings of canvas swirled around tall poles; the kind you see on the windblown plains of old television Westerns. Unlike those Westerns, our tepee — one of five at Cherry Wood Bed Breakfast and Barn — was a posh place nestled among cherry orchards and vineyards, within easy reach of some 20 wineries that make up the Rattlesnake Hills AVA (American Viticultural Area) in the heart of Yakima Valley wine country.
But then we weren't roughing it, we were high-end glamping, the latest soft-adventure craze. It's "glamorous camping," or "Extreme Makeover" meets campground.
The popularity of glamping — a concept that may have grown out of those upscale African safari camps — is taking root in Washington. Commercial "glampsites" can be found from the San Juan Islands to the Columbia River. Set in wooded areas, vineyards, orchards and ranches, they offer accommodations ranging from tepees to trailers, yurts to canvas cabins.
Our 22-foot-wide tepee, the Longhorn, with faux-skin rugs on a painted concrete floor, was furnished with a small refrigerator, rocking chair, electric lights, clothes rack, and a queen-sized bed with such a comfy mattress and flannel sheets so cozy that we didn't need the electric blanket.
Pampering products included towels, a makeup mirror and flip-flops to wear when visiting our private portable toilet, just outside the entry. A shared hot-water shower a few steps farther came with soaps and shampoo.
A hearty farm breakfast was included in the $185 nightly rate. We ate dinner at a restaurant down the road but could have used the briquette barbecue — or had Pizza Hut deliver, as guests the previous week had done.
Terry and Pepper Fewel put the "glam" in camping at Cherry Wood, their working orchard and horse ranch, blending the Old West with today's wineries. Many guests are drawn here — some from as far away as Australia and France — to saddle up for the $160 daylong trail rides that include winery tours and tasting.
Contact: Cherry Wood Bed Breakfast and Barn, 3271 Roza Drive, Zillah; 509-829-3500 or www.cherrywoodbbandb.com.
Along the Columbia
• Alexandria Nicole Cellars' glamp ground — three luxe canvas cabins and space for an RV hookup — is set amid its Destiny Ridge Vineyard in the Horse Heaven Hills AVA overlooking the Columbia River, about 45 minutes from Prosser, Benton County. Each of the upscale cabins, which rent for $150 a night, is built on a deck, with an adjacent private portable toilet and shower; furnishings include a table and chairs, queen-bed with down duvet, Persian carpet, refrigerator, electricity and running water.
Contact: Alexandria Nicole Cellars, 158422 W. Sonova Road, Prosser; 509-786-3497 or www.ancglamping.com.
• On gentle slopes among gorge-side vineyards 900 feet above the Columbia River, 25 swank yurts opened this month at Chiwana Village at Sagecliffe, associated with the Cave B Inn near the Gorge Amphitheatre at Quincy, Grant County.
The nomadic Central Asian peoples who first used the circular-style tents called yurts would be stunned to see those at Chiwana. Each has air conditioning and heat and is outfitted with a king-size bed, seating area, a private "en yurt" bathroom with flush toilet and shower, refrigerator, Wi-Fi and a deck with sun shade. Yurt dwellers have access to Cave B Inn and Winery's guest amenities — a wine tasting room, full-service restaurant, outdoor pool, hiking trails and bike rentals.
Rates are $175-$300 per night, double occupancy; season runs through October. A two-night stay required for Saturday nights.
Contact: Chiwana Village at Sagecliffe, 344 Silica Road, Quincy; 509-785-3291 or www.sagecliffe.com/Chiwana_Village.htm.
San Juan Island
If a stay in one of the 13 cushy canvas cabins at Lakedale Resort at Three Lakes (between Friday Harbor and Roche Harbor) on San Juan Island isn't enough pampering, you can buy "Glamping Survival Kits" at their General Store. The kits' contents are reflected in their names: "Happy Hour" and "Rekindle."
The 225-square-foot canvas cabins are furnished with a queen bed, full-size sleeper sofa or lounge chairs, hickory dining set, bed and bath linens. A cordless lantern comes in handy for reaching the bathhouse with shared flush toilets and showers just a short walk away. Glampsites have Adirondack chairs, a picnic table, and a fire ring. Glamping rates start at $149 per night.
For fans of the retro, there are also two 1970s-vintage Airstream trailers available for rent at $229 per night. The glamping season ends Sept. 30.
Contact: Lakedale Resort at Three Lakes, 4313 Roche Harbor Road, Friday Harbor; 800-617-2267 or www.lakedale.com.
Jackie Smith is a Kirkland-based freelance writer.