SKIP THE COT­TAGE & GO GLAMP­ING

From Northum­ber­land to Cale­don and even right here in Toronto, posh camp­ing ac­com­mo­da­tions are pop­ping up and re­ceiv­ing rave re­views

Richmond Hill Post - - CONTENTS - by Ni­cole Richie

For­get Muskoka, think posh camp­ing in the On­tario wilds

At a time when we spend much of our days star­ing at com­puter screens or cell phones, there’s some­thing about “un­plug­ging” that re­ally strikes a chord.

So as the warm weather ar­rives, it makes sense that many city dwellers opt out of the hus­tle and bus­tle of Toronto and search for pas­toral views and tran­quil­ity in the calmer parts of our prov­ince.

Some opt to camp and some opt for a cot­tage re­treat. Both are in­creas­ing in pop­u­lar­ity, but tend to be on op­po­site ends of the wilder­ness spec­trum.

En­ter the sum­mer’s hottest new trend — glamp­ing, or lux­ury camp­ing. With­out the down and dirty as­pect of camp­ing, glamp­ing of­fers you a yurt or can­vas tent im­mersed in na­ture, where you can en­joy all that camp­ing has to of­fer, along with a cou­ple more bour­geois perks. Glamp­ing pro­vides an ex­pe­ri­ence where guests can con­nect with the earth and the land we so often lose touch with while still main­tain­ing a five-star, lux­ury feel.

Glam­per Ar­lene Valen­tini found Whis­per­ing Springs while scrolling through In­sta­gram.

“Not be­ing a camper, I was ex­cited by the idea of hav­ing all the com­forts of home and not feel­ing so wretched as you might sleep­ing in a tent,” she says.

Valen­tini and her friend Leah Glenn drove an hour and a half north of Toronto to Whis­per­ing Springs, a fam­ily-op­er­ated glamp­ing re­sort in Northum­ber­land County.

Look­ing for­ward to a “soul­ful, med­i­ta­tive and whole­some ex­pe­ri­ence,” she says, “Whis­per­ing Springs is more like a re­sort in a tent than a camp­ing trip.”

Upon ar­rival, they were brought to their sa­fari tent cutely named the Har­vest Moon. At $349 a night, with a re­duced rate dur­ing mid­week stays, the tra­di­tional sa­fari tent fits two peo­ple with a king­sized bed. There is also an elec­tric fan, Muskoka chairs, a float­ing tub, firepit, mini-fridge and bar­be­cue, among other ameni­ties. Dur­ing your stay, there are ac­tiv­i­ties and ser­vices pro­vided on site such as for­est hik­ing trails, ca­noe­ing, bik­ing and spa ser­vices. Valen­tini and her girl­friend took ad­van­tage of the salt wa­ter pool, hot tub and mas­sages of­fered at the re­sort. She even said us­ing the bath­room felt lux­u­ri­ous.

“Not often do you see a tent like that with a tub in it! It re­ally ex­ceeded my ex­pec­ta­tions,” she says.

That was just the feel that Whis­per­ing Springs own­ers, Nancy and John Cor­co­ran, were aim­ing for.

“We wanted to pro­vide peo­ple with the op­por­tu­nity to be as out­doorsy — or not — as they want while stay­ing with us,” says their daugh­ter, Jenna Cor­co­ran, who han­dles mar­ket­ing and reser­va­tions.

The Cor­co­rans opened Whis­per­ing Springs in 2015, af­ter they de­cided to leave city life be­hind and get back to their wild side in the coun­try.

“We be­lieve more peo­ple are look­ing for an out­doorsy Cana­dian ex­pe­ri­ence, whether or not they have camped be­fore,” says Jenna.

Eighty per cent of Whis­per­ing Springs clien­tele is Toronto-based. There is a buzz around glamp­ing that is tak­ing clients away from the clas­sic cot­tage ex­pe­ri­ence, says Jenna of their mostly Toron­to­based clien­tele. The emer­gence of camp­ing cul­ture has cre­ated a buzz around glamp­ing get­aways, tak­ing away from the clas­sic cot­tage ex­pe­ri­ence.

Peo­ple are choos­ing glamp­ing as an al­ter­na­tive to cot­tages and camp­ing sim­ply be­cause there is way less has­sle.

Aimee Al­abaster, owner of Al­abaster Acres in Cale­don, Ont., says, “Peo­ple don’t have the space to keep all their camp­ing es­sen­tials any­more, so we pro­vide every­thing. That way you can leave work at five o’clock and still make it in time for cock­tail hour by the fire.”

Af­ter de­cid­ing to ditch her cor­po­rate life­style to be­come a full­time farmer, Al­abaster found that there was a de­mand amongst friends and ac­quain­tances to get in­volved and learn about her new life.

“Our fa­cil­ity was built on com­mu­nity, and we en­cour­age all of our guests to get in­volved and try on farm life, even if it’s just for a lit­tle while,” she says.

Of course, not all guests are look­ing for a farm-friendly ex­pe­ri­ence and to that Al­abaster says, “Noth­ing is struc­tured. Guests can do what­ever they are com­fort­able with, even if that is noth­ing at all.”

Host­ing bach­e­lorette par­ties, wed­dings and ro­man­tic get­aways, Al­abaster Acres has al­ready started ex­pand­ing due to the in­crease in book­ing re­quests over the last year. The av­er­age nightly rate is $200.

For those who feel glamp­ing is a lit­tle too glam, there are also op­tions such as Out­Post Co. in Temagami Re­gion. Of­fer­ing a more au­then­tic wilder­ness ex­pe­ri­ence, Out­Post is com­pletely en­sconced in Temagami’s white pine for­est and is only ac­ces­si­ble by float plane. About five hours from the city, this com­pletely re­mote and off-the-grid ex­pe­ri­ence al­lows campers to un­plug and let go of city life for $600 a night.

Owner and founder Con­stantin Von Flo­tow started out in ad­ven­ture- and ex­pe­di­tion-based tourism and wanted to cre­ate a “back-to-na­ture” style glamp­ing fa­cil­ity that was lux­u­ri­ous enough to draw a crowd but not so much so that his guests would not re­ally con­nect with mother na­ture. He hopes his guests will “Pause, hit the re­set but­ton and hope­fully have a trans­for­ma­tive ex­pe­ri­ence,” he says.

Glamp­ing’s pop­u­lar­ity has also in­creased its ac­ces­si­bil­ity. Parks Canada has even made it pos­si­ble for you to glamp right here in Toronto. The Glen Rouge Camp­ground at the 401 and Kingston Road has opened up its first oTen­tiks for $120 a night.

“A play on words be­tween a cabin and a tent, oTen­tik also means ‘ au­then­tic’ in French,” says Emily Kin­non, visi­tor and events man­ager at Parks Canada.

“We are us­ing the Glen Rouge as a gate­way park to show­case a glimpse of what we of­fer all over the coun­try” she says.

The oTen­tiks are the most af­ford­able op­tion and the clos­est to home while still be­ing on a camp­ground and on the wa­ter. Glamp­ing has never been so easy.

Clock­wise from left: Ar­lene Valen­tini and Leah Glenn dur­ing their glamp­ing week­end, an ex­te­rior look at the sa­fari tent at Whis­per­ing Springs, an in­te­rior look at the sa­fari tent

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