Recently, while interviewing Michelle Obama, TV host Oprah Winfrey suggested that they go ‘glamping’. The First Lady immediately warmed up to the idea and said “Okay, I’m down for glamping”. Further in the interview, the FLOTUS expressed eagerness to go glamping in the US national parks, provided Oprah did the cooking.
However, when you go glamping – glamorous camping – cooking food is the least of your worries. You can have your personal valet get you gourmet lunch on a platter while you sit on a cushy chair outside your tent, watching exotic butterflies and birds buzz about with lofty snow-capped peaks in the background.
Chamba Camp, Thikse located near the famous Thikse Monastery in Ladakh offers personal valet and unlimited WiFi to its guests at an altitude of 3,550 metres above sea level. A truly high-end luxurious experience, the Camp is in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by wild flowers and a 10-minute-walk away from the Indus. Despite its splendid isolation its staff can indulge the guests’ whims. “It is thousands of kilometres away from the sea but you can order seafood at Thikse Camp. You tell the staff in advance and they’ll ship it in on the next flight from Delhi and you can enjoy lobsters with evening drinks while admiring the rugged Ladakhi landscape,” says Abhishek Hajela, a Delhi-based travel photographer who has visited the Camp that’s run by The Ultimate Travelling Camp. A three-night stay for a couple in the luxury suite tent costs Rs 2,04,000.
Old fashioned camping is about surviving and enjoying the Nature with bare necessities — a simple tent, bon fire, a container to cook food, usually Maggi, and a sleeping bag. While the desire to be one with the Nature is present in all of us, it is not always complimented with a sense of adventure. Glamping, by bringing luxury to the great outdoors, fills this gap. So while you lie in your bed under designer sheets, sleeping in a temperature-controlled tent, you will still be in the midst of a thick forest or surrounded by sand dunes, or in the shadow of mighty Himalayas.
Siswan forest range, 27 km outside Chandigarh, is home to the just opened Oberoi Sukhvilas Resort & Spa that offers “royal forest tents” that come with a private swimming pool, electronic weighing scale, 100% silk robes and a pillow menu right in the middle of 8,000 acres of protected lush forest. A night’s stay at royal forest tent costs Rs 60,000, plus taxes. Oberoi’s older luxury campsite – Vanyavilas in Ranthambore – offers similar frills and was fully booked for the yearend.
The term glamping is new but not the concept. Maharajas were known to live in regal tents during extended travel or on shikaar trips to jungles. Later, British Raj officials did the same. “It provides a great combination of ‘roughing it up in the lap of luxury’ and is becoming a popular travel choice in India,” says Reshmi Roy, growth manager, Skyscanner India.
In India glamping started off in the early 2000s by providing luxurious on-the-spot accommodation to wealthy pilgrims and tourists during the Kumbh Mela. However, now luxury camps operate in a variety of landscapes, from beaches of Goa, backwater of Kerala to the hilly areas of Nagaland.
Travel enthusiast Vidya Deshpade says when glamping you don’t have to worry about weather. “If it rains heavy, your tent will not get flooded. Compared to traditional camping, this is easier on nerves,” says Deshpande who has experienced glamping on the outskirts of Jodhpur. “There was a fully running kitchen, we were served three-course meals, alcohol and a cook accompanied us for a desert safari,” says Deshpade who is also the founder of SoulPurpose, a travel portal targeted at women.
Prerna Seth Sinha who is a Research Analyst at HSBC, Dubai shares her experience of camping in Kabini, near Mysore in the Nagarhole National park. She says, “Our tent was in the midst of the jungle and the view was breath-taking as it opened to the river Kabini from one side. The tent was spacious and comfortable, just like any luxurious hotel room. Since we were in the middle of the jungle we could hear animals at night,” says Sinha who paid Rs 13,000 per night for the experience.