ANNA HART THE HYPE

Af­ter pop-up ho­tels comes the new breed of lux­u­ri­ous tented re­treats in lo­ca­tions such as the salt flats of Bo­livia. Happy cam­pers, in­deed!

The Daily Telegraph - Travel - - FRONT PAGE - De­par­tures,

I’ve never been en­tirely con­vinced about pop-ups, whether it’s a restau­rant, bar or shop. A bit like how I feel about one night stands: if some­thing is really that good, surely we want to keep on do­ing it? If a pop-up is a gen­uine suc­cess, why is it not a stay-up?

Of course, I un­der­stand that pop-ups per­mit in­de­pen­dent de­sign­ers, chefs and en­trepreneurs to ex­per­i­ment and in­no­vate, with­out the size­able in­vest­ment nor­mally re­quired. Two of Lon­don’s most ex­cit­ing young chefs, Isaac McHale and James Lowe, op­er­ated a pop-up in the Ten Bells pub and hosted sup­pers in dis­used of­fice build­ings, be­fore going on to open their re­spec­tive Miche­lin-starred restau­rants, The Clove Club and Lyle’s. A pop-up can of­fer proof of con­cept for a stay-up.

But some pop-ups are born with a death wish, pos­sess­ing no as­pi­ra­tions to linger on this planet. They are de­signed specif­i­cally to sat­isfy the most neophil­iac urges of the mod­ern con­sumer. They are pop-ups that man­u­fac­ture ur­gency and cap­i­talise on FOMO (Fear Of Miss­ing Out!). They toy with our emo­tions like a hol­i­day ro­mance. This isn’t nec­es­sar­ily a bad thing, but it helps to know what we’re get­ting into.

With mu­se­ums, restau­rants and stores in on the pop-up act, travel was the in­evitable next do­min­ion. Some pop-up ac­com­mo­da­tion set-ups are born out of sheer ex­pe­di­ency, like The Pop-Up Ho­tel (the­p­op­upho­tel.com), which has been sup­ply­ing plush tents to festivals like Bes­ti­val and Glas­ton­bury for sev­eral sum­mers, or Snooze­box (snooze­box­ho­tel.co.uk), which trans­formed ship­ping con­tain­ers into ac­com­mo­da­tion pods dur­ing the 2012 Lon­don Olympics, for ex­am­ple. But over the past two years, a grow­ing num­ber of ul­tra high-end lux­ury pop-up ho­tels, re­treats and “ex­pe­ri­ences” have emerged that have noth­ing to do with prac­ti­cal­ity and ev­ery­thing to do with in­dul­gence. Tom Marchant, co-founder of Black Tomato (black­tomato.com/blink), ex­plains that he was in­spired to roll out Blink, a cus­tomis­able lux­ury tent op­tion, partly by restau­rant and bar pop-ups.

“Pop-up ho­tels and re­treats tap into two cur­rent travel trends,” says Marchant: “The pop-up scene, and also the de­mand for truly unique ex­pe­ri­ences and the brag­ging rights that come with a hol­i­day no­body else can repli­cate.”

The Blink ser­vice or­gan­ises far-flung, re­mote tem­po­rary ac­com­mo­da­tion in parts of the world that trav­ellers wouldn’t nec­es­sar­ily have ac­cess to. Guests start by se­lect­ing a global re­gion, and Black

Tomato finds a dis­tant piece of land on which to con­struct be­spoke tem­po­rary lodg­ings and build an en­tire guest ex­pe­ri­ence. Prices stretch from £8,800 per per­son (based on six trav­el­ling) for a three-night Blink ex­pe­ri­ence in Mo­rocco to £23,800 per guest for a Blink ex­pe­ri­ence in Bo­livia for six peo­ple for four nights.

Amaz­ing Es­capes (amazingescapes.ch) of­fers a sim­i­lar be­spoke tented vil­lage ser­vice, but more af­ford­able is its ros­ter of pop-up tent ho­tels across the globe. Ev­ery year, Amaz­ing Es­capes builds four lux­ury tented camps in beau­ti­ful and in­ac­ces­si­ble lo­ca­tions, each pop-up re­main­ing in situ for just three to four months.

There’s a grow­ing feel­ing that hote­liers and op­er­a­tors have been miss­ing a trick by stick­ing to the pre­vail­ing one-size-fit­sall ap­proach to lux­ury. A study by Amer­i­can Ex­press found that nearly 70 per cent of mil­len­ni­als want “a per­son­alised travel ex­pe­ri­ence” on their hol­i­days, and this is a gen­er­a­tion that pri­ori­tises travel, ac­cord­ing to re­search. And for the op­er­a­tors them­selves, a tented pop-up op­er­a­tion is an ag­ile, re­spon­sive busi­ness model, al­low­ing en­trepreneurs to re­spond swiftly to trend like cur­rent “hotspot” des­ti­na­tions, and

A tented pop-up op­er­a­tion is an ag­ile, re­spon­sive busi­ness model

even tai­lor the size of the ho­tel specif­i­cally to de­mand. Com­pared with the time, cap­i­tal and com­mit­ment re­quired for a bricks-and-mor­tar ho­tel, col­lapsi­ble tents can be moved on swiftly, and tents added or re­moved ac­cord­ing to de­mand. Any­thing that en­ables hote­liers to in­no­vate is a good thing.

Best of all, the phe­nom­e­non of lux­ury tented camps is that rare thing, a high-end trend that even those on a bud­get can jump on – by erect­ing their very own pop-up ho­tel: a tent.

Anna Hart’s travel mem­oir,

pub­lished by Lit­tle, Brown is avail­able for £11.99 from books. tele­graph.co.uk

In­side the (deluxe) tent

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