Love the great outdoors but hate the bad nights of sleep, dirty nails and basic meals that go with it? We hear you. Here’s your answer.
Want to sleep in a tent under the stars, surrounded by thousands of acres of open space in the Colorado mountains? What if there’s no jagged rock piercing your spine at night—and no kinks in your neck when you wake up? No dehydrated meals? No dirty fingernails? And no, ahem, awkward treks into the woods when nature calls?
This is “glamping,” or glamorous camping—and these five-star, luxury campsites (that’s not an oxymoron, by the way) give urban hotel suites a run for their money. “We try to make it a camping experience, but comfortable,” says Christina Rossi, director of marketing for Dunton Hot Springs, which transformed old mining town cabins into luxurious lodging. “We even do coffee delivery to the tents in the morning.”
Glamping has many faces, from retro Airstream trailers, huts and treehouses to comfortable tents worthy of Meryl Streep in “Out of Africa.” The goal is to get travelers out in nature, without the sacrifice of comfort.
Ready for a stylish, starry night? Read on for a variety of ways to glamp it up in Colorado.
Hot water, a private chef serving locally sourced, gourmet food, 1,500-thread-count sheets and a wood-burning stove, all centered around a private tent in the wilderness near Vail. This is five stars, under the stars. “There is absolutely nothing like this,” says Peter Mack, founder and CEO of Collective Retreats. “The closest thing would be in South Africa. If you do a luxury safari, you can find something comparable. But we love Colorado. We adore the mountains, and we want to bring more people outside.”
Eco-friendly Collective Retreats opened last year on the 130-acre Four Eagle Ranch, just 15 minutes from the popular ski town, yet a million miles away from the bustle. This is private land that travelers would otherwise never be able to access.
Tailor your experience to your level of adventurousness: If you want to grill out or go for a hike, Collective Retreats can set that up. It curates ATV tours, horseback riding, guided hikes, fly-fishing, zip-lining and whitewater rafting. It also can arrange a private chef-cooked meal, an in-tent massage or a tour of the ranch’s on-site winery.
Guests can choose a private experience—tents are plenty far apart, and all open facing outward—or come together for social dinners or a gourmet s’mores buffet around the fire at night. We’re talking wood-fired, cast-iron-cooked bacon with melty marshmallows, chocolate and graham crackers.
The nightly s’mores, as well as daily breakfast and in-room snacks, are included in your stay.
At 16 by 20 feet, tents are bigger than the average hotel room and feature a private deck out front, a king-sized bed and all the details you’d expect in a high-end resort, such as carafes of water and housecleaning and room—make that tent—service. Each tent has its own bathroom with a sink, shower, vanity, hot water and working toilet.
Other Collective Retreats locations include Yellowstone in Montana, Sonoma in Northern California, Hudson Valley in upstate New York and, coming soon, Hill Country, located about 90 minutes outside of Austin, Texas.
COLLECTIVE RETREATS: IF YOU GO
LOCATION: Wolcott (about 25 miles from Vail Village)
AMENITIES: Furnished tents with king-sized beds, outdoor decks and private teepee bathrooms; breakfast daily at Three Peaks Lodge; nightly campfires; nightly farm-totable dinners and private dinners upon request (added fees)
PRICING: $500 and up per night
AVAILABLE: May through October
MORE INFO: collectiveretreats.com
There’s no place like this in the world. Dunton Hot Springs, set in an 1800s ghost town and surrounding a former saloon and dance hall, includes 13 high-end, hand-built cabins with historical charm and jaw-dropping views.
“These are the old homes and businesses of the miners,” says Edoardo Rossi, executive vice president of the property. Guests can hike to a nearby waterfall or relax 24/7 in the hot springs, which (to many guests’ delight) don’t have that stinky sulphur odor that so many springs do. Down the road on the Geyser Trail is the only active geyser in the state of Colorado. It’s no Old Faithful, but it’s a bubbling novelty in an otherwise geyser-less land.
What many travelers don’t know about is the nearby River Camp, eight summer-only, 640-square-foot tents with bathrooms, boasting even better views than the hot springs. Lodging includes large bathrooms with 6-foot soaker tubs, towel warmers, on-demand hot water, flushing toilets, beds with feather toppers and gas stoves—all inside canvas walls.
“You get the feeling you are in nature, but you can take a shower,” says Christina Rossi, Dunton’s director of marketing. “You can walk to the farmhouse and not be worried about how to cook your eggs over an open fire, because someone’s taking care of it for you.”
Nearby, a renovated farmhouse serves as a common area for food and beverage service, which is all included in the stay. And although the natural springs aren’t part of the River Camp, a custom-built mobile sauna is offered down by the river. Dunton offers hiking, rock climbing, trail rides, rafting, archeological day tours and fly-fishing. Plus, each tent comes with two mountain bikes to take out along the 8 miles of private river access.
“You’re really immersed in nature,” Edoardo Rossi says. “You open the front of it and can lie in bed and look at the mountains with nothing in front of you. It’s common to see deer walking by.”
This isn’t a dude ranch—and it isn’t something someone dreamed up. “This was an actual old mining town,” he says. “When you drive in, you feel like you’re leaving the world behind and stepping back in time. It gives you that opportunity to connect with nature, reconnect with whomever you’re traveling with and be somewhere without all the stresses of today.”
DUNTON RIVER CAMP: IF YOU GO
LOCATION: Cresto Ranch
AMENITIES: Bespoke tents; private bathrooms with soaker tubs and showers; on-demand hot water; towel warmers; two private mountain bikes; all-inclusive meals and beverages (alcoholic and non); sauna; out door fire pit
AVAILABLE: June through October
PRICING: $1,500 and up
MORE INFO: duntonrivercamp.com