Springing up in some of the most exclusive and untouched corners of the planet, luxury tented camps are taking the world by storm. A night under canvas allows you to get back to nature in style and there is no better place to bag yourself a front row seat to some of the world’s most iconic scenery than in the national parks of North America. USA specialist, Greg, swaps civilisation for canyons and cacti on an unforgettable stay in Zion National Park.
A bespoke itinerary in the USA might typically include a city break in Las Vegas, a short stay at the Four Seasons, an awe inspiring Cirque du Soleil show, a helicopter tour of the Grand Canyon all before picking up a luxury SUV for an epic road trip of the Southwest’s iconic national parks.
It is here that the quality of accommodation is often compromised. Hotels within national parks in the US can be substandard compared with the array of prestigious properties elsewhere in the country. This is, in part, due to governing bodies setting the rates for these properties, thus giving them less incentive to achieve a higher pedigree. Fortunately though, this has led some ‘outside of the box’ offerings in and around these areas of natural beauty. Welcome glamping.
The thought of arriving at a glorified campsite may initially deter the luxury traveller, otherwise weighing up properties such as Amangiri as part of their USA Southwest itinerary. However, ‘glamping’ is the distinguishing term here, a phenomenon sweeping across the globe which combines the comfort of home with the beauty of nature and the great outdoors.
Upon your arrival in Zion, you would be forgiven for mistaking the unassuming location of the camp as merely a port of call rather than the next stop on your trip, but you would be soundly mistaken. Amidst the majestic natural scenery of Utah, on the doorstep of Zion National Park, is your home for the next couple of nights.
Tents are equipped with a king size bed and en-suite bathroom (complete with a hot shower, sink with fresh drinking water and a proper toilet), a toasty wood burning fire and USB ports to keep your phones and cameras charged up! With daily housekeeping, staff available 24 hours a day and a concierge service it doesn’t feel too dissimilar to a hotel.
Not only are the tents cosy and comfortable but the experience will have you wanting to stay a little longer too. Minimal light pollution means that star gazing is truly exceptional and I’d argue amongst the best in the world. For a truly unique experience of sleeping under the stars, special ‘stargazer’ tents are available with a viewing window directly above the bed so that you can admire the view as you drift off to sleep. The sunrises are similarly otherworldly, and watching as the light creeps over the distant red rock mesas before bathing the remote landscape in glorious hues of orange is truly spectacular.
Well thought out, nutritious fare is integral to a stay in Zion. There is an indoor food truck inside the main tent that serves up a delicious, hearty breakfast and piping hot coffee, a boxed lunch is also available to pick up before heading out to the park. At the end of the day, fill up with their basic but wholesome grub – think smoked BBQ chicken, Ahi tuna sandwiches and homemade nachos.
There are a multitude of activities available there too which are perfect for all ages; hiking, rock climbing, canyoneering, horse riding, balloon rides and helicopter tours are just a handful of what is on offer whilst glamping in Zion. Evenings at the camp are very peaceful but the highlight is undoubtedly the central campfire where cooking s’mores, enjoying board games and sampling a selection of wine, beer and soft drinks all sits top of the bill.
I can honestly say that, during my two-week road trip around Utah, glamping in Zion was not only one my favourite experiences but, thanks to the cosy bed, crackling fire and peaceful remoteness, also the best night’s sleep I had all trip!