Just before I convinced Jennifer of Glamper’s Paradise in Raleigh, NC, to let me to come stay as a guest at her swanky, newly-converted backyard oasis, I admit it: I needed to look up “glamping.”
The concept of “luxury” and “camping” never merged in my psyche the way it seems to gel with the younger, sexier, hipper millennial crowd and yet, it appealed to me.
This trendy/chic way to travel checked some decidedly pagan boxes for me.
Jennifer embodied them all: devoted to natural-living, crafty, inventive and decidedly goddess-like, she knows instinctively not just how to make her guests feel at home, but how to make them feel beautiful.
So . . . what is glamping, exactly?
Glamping strips away the traditional idea that camping must feel rugged, uncomfortable, and totally without luxury.
Campgrounds with yurts, Cleopatra-style tents, outdoor soaking tubs and (in this case) hella decked-out campers all fall neatly under the category of “glamping.”
Some “glampgrounds” offer spa-like services, freshly cooked meals, yoga classes, massage therapists and even Reiki practitioners.
In my case, for example, Jennifer happens to possess a myriad of extended hosting skills, including the ability to cook her guests first-class, from scratch, whole food meals, a wardrobe for glamour photography sessions, a yoga room with a tilt table, and organic beauty products she designed herself after years in the beauty industry.
But we’ll get into that in a moment.
Suggested Packing List
Jennifer did a lot of this for me at Glamper’s Paradise, but if you want DIY, bedazzle your next tent/camper/yurt experience with a little luxury and choose a few things off the list below to make your trip feel more “glamp” than camp.
-organic bug repellent
-a real comforter
-small bedside table
-sarong or fabric for draping
-organic beauty products
-an eye mask
-slippers for the tent
-throw rug for your feet
-a “girlie” bike
-vintage picnic basket
-hand basket for toting bath products
As my husband and I came careening around the corner and into the driveway of Jennifer’s seemingly ordinary suburban home, the first sign of the fairytale wonderland awaiting me behind the facade appeared at the end of the pavement like an acidic forest mirage out of Alice In Wonderland.
Instantly, I knew: this is no ordinary campground. And Jennifer would be no ordinary hostess.
As I rounded the corner, I found a retreat fit for a gypsy queen, complete with an outdoor soaking tub, champagne ice buckets and a vardo-like vintage camper with handmade personal touches I found myself marveling at hours later.
Our host greeted us with a surprise: two tickets to a local jazz festival.
Yet another reason I prefer to stay with locals. They always know what’s up in town.
Jennifer seemed to have a near-psychic knack for picking out one of favorite ways to spend an evening. My husband takes a keen interest in vinyl records, so a night of live jazz sounded pretty smooth to me.
As night fell, we returned to the little enchanted garden to settle in for the evening. We found it especially magical in the dusky evening amid the sparkling fairy lights.
Glamping in Style
The next morning, Jennifer showed us around the main house, where we explored the spa-like environment she carefully crafted over years of careful design choices.
As a hostess, she focuses on creating an individualized experience.
She even has a yoga room with a tilt table!
Initially, Jennifer offered me a photo session. After all, she maintains a wardrobe that ranges from size 2-16 with vintage pieces she curates herself expertly from thrift shops around town—–and she knows them all.
“So far, we actually rent the space more to photographers than to travelers,” she told me.
I saw an opportunity, and we all know which side of the camera I prefer. 🙂
“How about I do your photo instead?”
Among my favorite personal touches, Jennifer owns her own line of high-end beauty products called Celtic Complexions.
“I worked in the beauty industry for years, and I always wondered why people spent so much at the counter for products full of chemicals,” she told me. “*I wanted to design a high-end line with natural ingredients instead.”
She offered to let me sample her award-winning, top-of-the-line cream, Celtic Jewel. She even custom-designed the spoon in a set that would look right at home on Marilyn Monroe’s vanity.
What We Ate
All glampgrounds offer varying amenities. No two are alike.
This variety makes up part of the charm of any unique lodging experience in the “alternative” travel industry.
Hosts take advantage of their personal skills, individual interests and special abilities to create an experience you’ll never get at an ordinary hotel.
Jennifer offered us some of her handmade, from-scratch hors d’oeuvres in the main house, where she invited us to take a seat while we watched her miraculous hands transform fresh ingredients into a garden-style, small-plate meal that was both delicious and healthy.
What I Learned
A lot! And not just that I love glamping.
The definition of “success” continues to trend away from constantly chasing ever-larger growth expectations and never-ending expansion at the expense of the human touch, community impact and environmental consciousness.
Jennifer is a modern entrepreneur in every sense.
Her approach to her clients and to her business exemplify an emerging business model that prizes staying small enough to interact directly with your clients, serve their specific needs and design your own work day around what you love to do.
Community-orientation, minimization of synthetic chemicals, personal freedom, sustainable travel and lifestyle—this model applies some of the most basic values of the earth-based spirituality movement in a real-world context.
Those are things as I pagan I want to get behind. If you own a similar business, and think it’s compelling enough to warrant a feature, email me at: