The Pacific Northwest has plenty of opportunities to experience luxury travel’s answer to camping

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Game to try glamping? The Pacific Northwest has plenty of opportunities to experience luxury travel’s answer to camping – all the close-to-nature goodness without the muss or the fuss. Here, the what, when, who, how, where and why of glamping near Seattle.

What is glamping?

According to Wikipedia, glamping is “a portmanteau of glamour and camping.” It describes “a style of camping with amenities and, in some cases, resort-style services not usually associated with ‘traditional’ camping.” Often those amenities include comfortable canvas tents with real beds and crisp linens, but they can also be old Airstreams, tipis or yurts. The common denominator is that they’re removed from civilization, but civilized – and even luxurious.

When was glamping invented?

Wikipedia notes that while the term “glamping” is believed to have originated in the U.K. around 2005, luxurious tent-dwelling has been a thing since centuries before you could book a yurt on Airbnb. In the sixteenth century, the Scottish Duke of Atholl hosted early glampers King James V and his mother. The Duke raised “lavish tents” in the Highlands for the visiting royals, filling them with “all the provisions of his own home pallace.” Around the same time, the Ottomans transported “ostentatious, palatial tents” with them on military missions, requiring entire teams of artisans to travel with them and erect the tents at each stop.

But who glamps in the 21st century…and why?

In recent years, a growing number of people have embraced the glamp. People like Jason Garms, a resident of Tumble Creek at Suncadia. He says glamping is for people who want to experience the best of both worlds: “It combines a world-class hotel and resort experience with the best of real camping, which my wife and I also love.”

According to Washington-based hospitality consultant Scott Hale of Brand New Stay, many self-proclaimed “real” campers don’t consider glamping to be camping – which he calls one of the top misconceptions about the endeavour.

“Everyone camps differently. Some folks backpack, some car camp, others drive a big rig with a flat screen. And some like [to have] an outfitted tent all set up for them. Of course it’s camping. Some might even say it’s better camping,” says Hale.

The Pacific Northwest has plenty of opportunities to experience luxury travel’s answer to camping – all the close-to-nature goodness without the muss or the fuss. (Suncadia Real Estate)
The Pacific Northwest has plenty of opportunities to experience luxury travel’s answer to camping – all the close-to-nature goodness without the muss or the fuss. (Suncadia Real Estate)

Garms and his wife, Katie, both frequent users of Tumble Creek’s glamping facilities, agree. “We get all the fresh air and campfire experiences of camping, but when we’re ready to go to sleep at night, there’s a plush bed to sleep in. In the morning, we can cook breakfast for everyone on the grill while enjoying hot showers and playing games on the decks. We just have to arrive with our friends and everything else is taken care of.”

Hale says that’s why glamping often means getting closer to nature, not farther from it as many people believe. “It’s the opposite, actually. [Glamping] frees you up to dig into nature … Just think of the miles you could hike, fish you could catch, meals you could make … if you spent less time gearing up, setting up and cleaning up.”

Okay, I’m convinced. Where can I glamp in the Pacific Northwest?

There are a number of options close to Seattle – and with the increasing popularity of glamping, more upscale tents are popping up all the time. Options include Pampered Wilderness in Millersylvania State Park, Lakedale Resort on San Juan Island, and Hale’s own LEANTO resort on Orcas Island. All of the above are located within a two-hour drive of Seattle (plus, in some cases, a ferry ride).

For Garms, glamping is even closer; Sasse Mountain Outpost, a private elevated campsite for Tumble Creek homeowners, is located at the edge of his community in the Cascade Mountains. Asked the best thing about Sasse, Garms has trouble choosing. “I love everything about it. It’s been the setting of so many happy memories for us.”

“But if I had to choose, it would be the outdoor shower. I know Katie was skeptical at first, but once she tried it, she was a believer. There’s nothing to make you feel more luxurious in the woods than a hot shower with great-smelling bath products and a soft towel to finish it off.”

“We still love camping,” he says. “But glamping is tough to beat.”

Suncadia is Seattle’s backyard escape, just 80 easy miles from Seattle. Tumble Creek is Suncadia’s private gated community. Among the amenities available to members is Sasse Mountain Outpost, the community’s glamping facility. Homesites at Tumble Creek are now available.