PHOTO: A Collective Retreats tent. (photo courtesy of Collective Retreats)
Luxury camps are more prevalent around the world than one might think.
They’ve long been popular African safari accommodations — dating back to the nascent days of the British Empire — and can also be found in far-flung locales such as Oceania, Thailand and South America.
North America, however, seems peculiarly lacking in luxury tented camp experiences — our pioneers were perhaps more interested in putting down roots and building hotels. That changed on March 15, with the formal launch of Collective Retreats, which for the past two years has been offering luxury tented camp experiences in Yellowstone and Vail.
Relying almost solely on word-of-mouth and social media advertising, the secret is out: Collective Retreats, helmed by seasoned hotel and outdoor experience veterans has announced that three new destinations will join the suite of seasonal pop-up retreats: Sonoma, California; Hudson Valley, New York and Texas Hill Country.
It’s basically a luxury hotel without the hotel.
The retreats are incredibly decked-out tents erected on land that cannot otherwise be developed with brick-and-mortar hotels. Think: Restored heritage furnishings (foraged from local vintage markets and estate sales), comfy beds dressed with high thread count Egyptian cotton sheets, chandeliers, en-suite (er, tent) bathrooms, a French Press coffee bar and a private deck to sip it on.
Meals are sourced locally and served outdoors — perhaps it’s wine from the winery the retreat sits upon, fish from a local stream or regional game.
Whatever the locality provides, it’s expertly prepared by a team of culinary professionals to whet appetites after days spent exploring on foot or horseback, fly-fishing or on a pedaling tour. An on-site concierge who “helps guests connect with the land, the community and themselves” curates all excursions.
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The idea behind the retreats is that they’re lightly constructed materials-wise, thereby reducing the amount of architecture that exists between guests and the environment they’ve ultimately traveled to visit.
It also means that more of the guest’s buying dollar goes toward their experience, rather than paying for the maintenance and upkeep of an expensive hotel building and equipment.
Tents for the upcoming season appear to run between $500 and $800 per night, with some nights requiring minimum stays. The rates include breakfast served in the main lodge or in-tent upon request. Other meals are available for purchase.
The retreats aren’t huge and are only open for the summer season, so it’s wise to book soon to ensure the best availability.