9 months ago

Open Air Business February 2018

The UK's outdoor hospitality business magazine for function venues, glamping, festivals and outdoor events


GLAMPSITES LOVE2STAY LEFT: The interior of a Safari Lodge at Love2Stay, Shropshire RIGHT: Herbal Glamping Ljubno, Slovenia BELOW RIGHT: Watersports at Love2Stay, Shropshire Glamping Resorts As the glamping industry gains momentum, specialist resorts are a logical progression – could you get in on the action? Kate Morel shares her experience and vision LOVE2STAY IF A FRIEND said ‘we’ve just booked a resort holiday’, what image or thought would pop into your head? A glamorous hotel, spa and restaurant complex, or zipping to the pool first thing to stake your claim on a sun-lounger? Which, by the way, we can now pre-book via an app - yes folks, the mobile device has finally achieved its true destiny. What do we really mean by ‘a resort holiday’, anyway? Currently, it usually means an ‘all in one’ destination where everything you could need is right there on site – accommodation, shops, restaurants, activities and entertainment. Today, a lot of resorts tend to be owned by large companies or corporations, or maybe even part of a chain. These purpose-built resort developments might, however, just have a few distant roots embedded in our eclectic, Victorian resort towns and holiday destinations. I often pass through them on my travels and it’s easy to see when a place enjoyed its era of prosperity, denoted by the predominant style of architecture. In places such as Aberystwyth, Llangollen and Buxton, surviving buildings, parks and statues remain as echoes of a thriving heyday. What they all had in common, and still do, is that they developed organically around a natural beauty spot or wellness feature; so in some respects, nothing has changed, except the feature is now more often manufactured. A LAST RESORT… For as many of us that might shudder at being woken by Ruth Madoc chirping ‘Hi de Hi Campers’, there are as many who would love it. Depending on the time of year, we might also prefer the tranquillity of a quiet forest retreat, or aim for an actionpacked activity break - who’s off to a ski resort this month? There’s something in the resort world to suit most of us and whatever we feel like doing. And, while there might be pockets of antiquated coloured jacket here and there, today’s resort landscape is moving on, and shaping up to be something far more tailored. MARKET FORCES Like any other holiday accommodation type, the glamping industry is one of polarity and its resorts are no different. At one end, we have intimate, boutique offerings, like the exclusive eco-resorts that the likes of Indonesia and South Africa do so well – I might have mentioned it before 36 WWW.OPENAIRBUSINESS.COM

GLAMPSITES GLAMPRO LOVE2STAY but do check out ‘Sandat’ in Bali for scrumptious boutique inspiration. At the other, large resorts have been quick to diversify, and have added glamping of some description to their developments. In line with what their guest demographic would want and expect, some have even commissioned their own structures with integrated bathroom and kitchen facilities. One might argue that this has influenced industry facility standards, as more guests staying at small sites are now complaining when bathrooms are not ensuite - even when they are clearly marketed as being separate. Other factors are probably contributing too, hyped-up articles by journalists and bloggers swooning over ‘toasty warm tents’ are creating high expectations. It’s also fair to say that the glamping industry is naturally developing, as manufacturers create new features and add-ons every year. LEADING BY EXAMPLE For glamping resorts, at the pure luxury end of the market, personally I don’t think it gets much better than ‘Paws Up’ in Montana, North America. They’ve got it all – a stunning location, gorgeous accommodations, absolutely ‘on the money’ activities; who wouldn’t want to: ABOVE: Garden Village Bled, Slovenia "THERE ARE SOME AS- TOUNDINGLY MASSIVE DEVEL- OPMENTS PLANNED FOR THE UK WHICH INCLUDE GLAMPING" “Step aboard our old fashioned horse-drawn wagon and enjoy a unique ride to the Blackfoot River. Sit back, relax and take in the joy of watching Montana’s famous Big Sky play host to the rolling hills, gorgeous backdrop and local wildlife that call Paws Up Ranch home. This scenic ride ends at the banks of the Blackfoot River, where you’ll enjoy an authentic chuck wagon dinner. The finest offerings are prepared before your eyes.” They’ve taken their Wild West history and woven it into a fantastic, one off experience for their guests, with themed accommodation and well thought out activities that will send guests home with unforgettable memories… Book me in! Closer to home, catering to the family market, Love2Stay in Shropshire is an ambitious resort GLAMPRO development, which includes 122 touring pitches, a restaurant, pizzeria, and safari tents with private hot tubs, fitted kitchens, roll top baths and underfloor heating, setting a new benchmark for glamping accommodation in the UK. The site was previously laid to pasture, and while it had pleasant enough views, it wasn’t a place that visitors would flock to; in fact, unless they popped into the café, caravan or garden store, they’d drive straight past, usually heading for the Welsh coast. However, Salop Leisure created their own attractions by including a fitness suite, communal hot tubs, fishing lake, barefoot sensory walk, woodland hideout and den building, yoga, meditation classes, children’s nature play zone, and plant-powered natural swimming pool… among others! It opened in spring 2017 and has already welcomed over 22,000 guests; I think that figure rather speaks for itself. A CORPORATE DOMAIN? There are some astoundingly massive developments planned for the UK which include glamping, running into millions and millions of pounds. Given the level of investment involved, most are owned and created by powerful corporations and companies, and WWW.OPENAIRBUSINESS.COM 37