INCLUDING THE KITCHEN SINK!
Sue Hollingshead investigates the glamping journey…
When it first sprouted shoots, we could expect a glamping holiday to be in a pod of some description, or a glammed-up tent. Today, we can expect glamping accommodation to be almost anything that has a touch of luxury and quirkiness about it. “Over the years, glamping has gone from an empty shell to offering everything from heating, bathrooms, kitchens, one or two bedrooms, a lounge and dining area and now top of the range glamping pods are fitted out like a hotel suite with everything including the kitchen sink!” The structure of glamping pods has developed to the point that Lesko Modular now offer a 10 year warranty with their range of pods which is a clear indicator how the market has grown. Glamping pods are just the tip of the iceberg of course, also available are: shepherd huts, safari tents, tipis, Bell tents, yurts, domes, wigwams, airstream, vintage caravan, train carriages, tree houses, not to mention quirky options such as tree tents, plane carriages and fuselages. The imagination can be endless to create something different, something inspirational.
Jason Thawley, Innovation and Design Director, Tree Tents, explains: “The key tenet here is individuality, no matter what the structure may be, guests are looking for an experience. “A unique structure in a nice location is always a winner, though it is all in the detail and creating a space where guests feel they have arrived in a niche little world of their own. “Even simple things such as a hammock in a shady spot under a tree, a fire pit with comfortable seating to sit back and enjoy the stars in the evening and well-placed lighting to make things feel cosy.” Tree Tents, offer buildings such as Fuselages, set up high, or in built up areas amongst trees, with various bespoke designs set within trees. Treehouses, not to be confused with Tree Tents, are becoming one of the most sort after types of accommodation at Cooling Camping as James Warner Smith explains: “Part of the desire is the uniqueness, however it is partly also due to the sparsity of supply – treehouses are expensive to build, a practical challenge and present many planning difficulties. “If the obstacles can be overcome, a luxury treehouse is a very safe bet for year-round bookings and constant demand.” Clearly glamping is about the experience as endorsed by key players in the industry. It is also important to remember that although there is an aim to provide luxury, glamping is still ultimately about connecting with the outdoors and all that it entails, so hot tubs, especially the wood-fired version which are growing in popularity, saunas, outside spas and showers, pizza huts, private space are all aspects that should be considered in your strategy when developing either a new site, or refreshing existing. As Britain gradually returns to normal, albeit with the ‘new normal’ to consider, the whole concept of holiday accommodation that puts guests in touch with the outdoors, and provides them with space to be themselves, whether this is family time, or romantic breaks, will tick boxes.
Outstanding UK, providers of safari tents, have seen a surge of business as lockdown has slowly been released both from trade and consumer and are adapting to the new challenges. James King, UK Account Manager says: “Realising that individual pitch options are key in re-opening sites across Europe, Outstanding Tents have launched their sanitary tent. It is a take on the XS model in their extensive range, and is a higher version featuring shower, WC and basin to be placed onsite to offer en-suite facilities to any existing pitch, camping or glamping.” They are not the only company planning for the new challenges, Alan Hetherington, Customer Relationship Manager at Blackdown Shepherd Huts has some sound advice: “We feel that the most important thing new glamping owners should remember, is to know what their customers want from a self-contained unit following lockdown. “Ensure you can offer it to them, with quality, flexibility, and their experience at the forefront of your mind. Focus on offering a unique and bespoke experience that your customers’ want but cannot get elsewhere.
“This is exactly why we offer bespoke shepherd huts and after months of being cooped up at home guests will feel safe, relaxed, and excited to tell their friends and family.” Return on investment on many glamping units are achievable within 12-24 month period, which you would need to set aside other expenditure. From a marketing point of view, getting ahead with social media is considered to be one of the key areas to focus on moving forward.
The Staycation has been actively growing for many years, however we have seen many indicators following recent months that this is set to boom in the short term at the very least. James at Cool Glamping has a clear vision for future predictions: “This year we are seeing more first-time campers and glampers taking holidays in the UK as a result of travel restrictions and coronavirus, so the audience has grown dramatically. “Our hope is that this will convert into a longer time audience, giving our whole industry a larger market in the years to come. “I expect growth to continue in the higher end of the market, particularly for more inventive accommodation. I also expect more hoteliers and boutique accommodation providers to move into the market.” Ian at Lesko Modular adds: “The future for Glamping looks very bright with many large holiday providers that I am aware of planning new glamping developments for 2021. Apart from mainstream we also work closely with major children’s theme parks and are providing themed pods for the 2021 season.” Ian continues: “The benchmark has already been set quite high with regards to quirky accommodation and I feel that we can continue to see increased innovation in all types of accommodation with the emphasis developing on the overall experience itself. “Back to nature experiences, including cooking, creative, learning, developing skills, knowledge, enjoying the great outdoors, with a learning element to the holiday break. “We have already experienced elements of this during lockdown, back to old fashioned values almost, all of which backs nicely into the outdoor holiday experience for the future.”
Blackdown Shepherd Huts