As much as I love camping, sometimes I question why I chose to “rough it” in the first place.
There was the time when my partner, Chris, and I were on a portage trip in Algonquin Park and had borrowed a very generous friend’s gear. We discovered the leak in our tent on night one, and by the fourth night of rain, waking up to a persistent, intermittent dripping of cold water on my already frigid forehead was not the way I’d envisioned feeling tracing the steps of the Group of Seven.
There was also the time when Chris and I were camping in the Serengeti Desert while on safari and could hear hyenas howling in the middle of the night. It was at that moment that I felt an urgent need to use the bathroom. To say I was terrified and upset would be an understatement.
When I reflect on these trips today, I don’t immediately think about the dripping water or the unfortunate timing of nature’s call. I do, however, believe that as a hard-working person, I deserve a more comfortable way to camp.
That is the concept which inspired glamping (glamorous camping). It provides you with most (in some cases all) of the comforts of a hotel or cabin, but with the benefit of feeling as though you are, indeed, at one with nature.
While there are a lot of ideas about where glamping began, it’s believed to have gotten its start on luxurious safaris in southern and eastern Africa. Chris and I have been privileged to try glamping in Tanzania, parts of Ontario, and even most recently in the Andes of Peru. But you don’t have to travel far to try it: you can experience glamping in the regions of York, Durham, and Headwaters.
In 2018, Aimee Alabaster introduced glamping on her running farm, Alabaster Acres. Located in Caledon Village, it is an expansive, environmentally conscious farm complete with a 150-year-old heritage farmhouse and stable of animals. The benefits of experiencing glamping on a location such as this mean guests can interact with as many (or as few) aspects of the farm as they like.
On Alabaster Acres, guests can select from one of two luxury tents, fondly known as the “Copper Retreat” and the “Gunmetal Getaway”. Each tent hosts up to four guests with luxurious king-size beds and lounge spaces. Should it get a little chilly overnight, there are wood stoves and several duvets to make things cozy.
Bring food and beverages to this beautiful location to cook on a private barbecue, and dine on an elegantly decorated front porch. If you plan on spending more time here, be sure to take advantage of the private hammocks and fire pits outside each tent.
The amenities at Alabaster Acres include a cute little outhouse, an open-air shower, and claw-foot bathtub if guests wish to look at the fields and cows while soaking in the tub. If you forgot your book, there’s an outdoor library.
Around the farm, Aimee and her team offer private workshops to guests to learn about farm life and self-sustainable practices. If you’re interested in learning about anything from preserving food to gardening or raising backyard chickens, Alabaster Acres has a lot they can teach you about their philosophy. As a former corporate worker in Toronto turned farmer at 38 years old, Aimee knows and understands the need for balance in our lives.
“Here we are now on this gorgeous farm, not far from the city, yet far enough that we can see the stars every night and the crickets are louder than the traffic,” she says.
Looking to the near future, more options for glamping will be available in the region soon. By June 2019, the Pathways on Pleasure Valley equine facility in Uxbridge will open its first glamping tent.
Owner Michael Chen looks forward to bringing this unique experience to Pathways on Pleasure Valley, which is known for horseback and trail-riding. Its glamping tent will feature a bed, furniture for relaxing inside, as well as a porch on which you can enjoy a continental breakfast, lunch, and dinner. For guests who may not be interested in trying horseback riding but would like to wander beyond their expansive grounds, go for a nature walk through the nearby 600-acre Glen Major Forest.
As spring warms into summer, now is the best time to think about ways to experience the outdoors with a sprinkle of luxury and comfort.
Written by Bri Mitchell
Bri Mitchell is a freelance travel and lifestyle writer. She has travelled to over 50 countries, and doesn’t have plans of stopping anytime soon. Bri currently lives in Toronto with her partner in life and travel, Christopher Mitchell (travelingmitch.com), and their Turkish street cat turned Prince of the Great White North, Kotu. You can follow her travels and meanderings around Ontario and beyond on Instagram @mstravelingmitch.