Savage River Lodge

It is often said that you only get one chance to make a first impression. If that adage holds true, then the first glance at Savage River Lodge promises a true escape from the everyday. Turn off the main road onto a bumpy road that snakes through the deep forest of the Savage River Forest. The twists and turns aren’t too much for most, but definitely leave the Smart Car at home. The property’s proximity to Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, and Washington, DC belies its blissful quietude. It is surrounded by 700 acres of protected forest so hearing yourself think? Well, that’s precisely what they promise.

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Savage River Lodge is comprised of lodges and yurts and the canvas-covered tents are the first thing you’ll pass on your way to the main lodge. The lodge has casual country comfort down pat… walk up the steps past the antique steamer trunks and rocking chairs into a lodge complete with club chairs, a massive stone fireplace, hunting trophies, and antique sporting goods. First impressions are indeed powerful and the friendly staff at reception make you feel instantly welcomed. Travel back up the road a few steps to the yurt village, which straddles the road with a sprinkling of yurts on each side.

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This is where first glances definitely don’t do justice, since the somewhat basic-looking exteriors shield a far-from-simple interior. Turn the key in the lock and you’ll discover a stunning and exceedingly spacious accommodation. Latticed wood frames the entire structure and while it may be practical (supporting the canvas), it also serves as an elegant and serene design element. The circular tent’s clusters of seating, dining, and sleeping areas create nooks for relaxation. From the leather couch that begs for a post-hike afternoon slumber to the club chairs next to the stove that are a reader’s delight, the yurt looks and feels incredibly comfortable.

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And then there’s the bed. Hotel chains like to tout their copyrighted mattresses, but Savage River Lodge’s beds really are the ultimate in comfort. Sleep comes easily here, where the stars twinkle through the hole in the ceiling and the gentle sound of nature lulls you to a deep and rewarding night’s rest. The bed isn’t the only luxurious amenity; the powerful shower and double sink are further proof that glamping reigns here at Savage River Lodge.

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After a restful night, wake to the sun streaming through the windows and ceiling and open the door to a picnic basket packed with freshly baked muffins and Ball jars filled with fresh orange juice. The yurt’s kitchenette is thoughtfully fitted with a French press coffee pot and electric kettle for tea. When a morning’s only decision is where to take breakfast, you know you’ve left the modern world behind. Perhaps outside on the deck in the rocking chair, snuggled into the club chair, or curled up in the Comphy-brand eco-friendly and soft-as-silk sheets? Of course, the Lodge does offer a hot breakfast, but why leave the peace and quiet of your own yurt?

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Hiking is an integral part of the Savage River Lodge experience and the property’s trails range from easy and moderate to more difficult. Additional activities include nearby fly-fishing and mountain biking in a variety of parks. Exercise the cultural muscle and arrange a visit to Frank Lloyd Wright’s famous Fallingwater, which is just about an hour from the property. No matter the activity, be sure to work up an appetite, because the restaurant is far from a camping canteen. Instead, this spot dishes up gourmet comfort food – think bacon-wrapped meatloaf and quail with mushroom waffles for a unique take on that southern classic chicken and waffles. Save room for dessert…the chocolate peanut butter pie’s cookie crumble crust will have you shirking all sense of decorum to lick every last remaining bite. Yum!

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Perhaps the best part about Savage River Lodge is its laidback luxury where you can be as rugged or restful as you like. Prefer to while away the day in a rocking chair listening to the sounds of silence rather than working up a sweat? Go ahead. Nobody’s judging.

Nancy DePalma is a freelance travel writer and self-described hotel/property nut. She has contributed to over 30 different guidebooks and writes for a variety of print and online publications focusing on food and travel. Find her at nancydepalma.com

Top Ten Dream Glamping Honeymoons and Wedding Venues

He finally put a ring on it, did he! After sharing and celebrating the big news, your head may be going full speed and bringing on a load of flashbacks like a slideshow of the wedding and honeymoon ideas you have always dreamed of. Now that you are engaged, it’s time to bring out all of the plans you had previously written in your journal for your perfect wedding venues and honeymoon destinations… but, those of course may be a bit outdated. Let’s refresh that list and concentrate on the modern, luxurious, and unique glamping options out there. You don’t want your special day and destination to look like it came right out of an 80’s disco movie do you? Don’t you worry; Glamping.com offers a variety of options even the groom will love!

Country love…

The Resort at Paws Up – Greenough, Montana, USA
Accommodation Types: Tents, Cabins

bull_barn-resort-at-paws-upBull Barn Wedding Venue

tent-13-honeymoon-tent-paws-upCliffside Camp Honeymoon Tent

Dunton Hot Springs – Dolores, Colorado, USA
Accommodation Types: Cabins, Tent

well-house-dunton-hot-springsWell House Cabin – Built Around A Small, On Demand Hot Spring!

dunton-hot-springs-weddingDreamy Venue Great For All Seasons

Not your usual…

nightfall wilderness camp – Lamington National Park, Queensland, Australia
Accommodation Types: Tents

nightfall-wilderness-camp-mainSafari Tent Honeymooning

nightfall-camp-massage-sreRomantic Massage Over A Rock Stream

Charming Slovenia – Ljubno, Mozirje, Slovenia
Accommodation Types: Tents

charming-sloveniaA Natural Setting for Weddings

charming-slovenia-herbal-glampingGlamping Tents for Families and Groups

Romantic and glamorous…

Kasbah Tamadot – El Haouz, Marrakesh-Tensift-El Haouz, Morocco
Accommodation Types: Tents, Villas, Lodge Rooms

kasbah-tamadot-berber-tent-blueBerber Tent in Blue and White

Four Seasons Tented Camp – Wiang, Chiang Rai, Thailand
Accommodation Types: Tents

four-seasons-tented-camp-thai-lanna-wedding-packageThai Lanna Wedding Package

elephant_camp_dinner-four-seasons-tented-campElephant Camp Dinner

Just Beachy…

Huvafen Fushi – Nakachchafushi, Kaafu Atoll, Maldives
Accommodation Types: Over-water Bungalows/Huts, Villas

per_aquum_huvafen_fushi_destination_dining2Tie The Knot at The Beach, Underwater Spa, Dream Dhoni or Restaurant

Hotel Punta Islita – Punta Islita, Guanacaste, Costa Rica
Accommodation Types: Villa, Lodge Rooms and Suites

weddingshotelpuntaislita-91-jpg-1024x0Tropical Beach Wedding and Honeymoon Packages

dinner-at-1492-hotel-punta-islita1492 Restaurant in Punta Islita

Exotic…

Blancaneaux Lodge – Mountain Pine Ridge Reserve, Cayo, Belize
Accommodation Types: Cabanas, Cottages, Villas

blancaneaux-lodge-waterfallWaterfall Lounging

blancaneaux-lodge-honeymoon-cabanaHoneymoon Cabana

O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat – Canungra, Queensland, Australia
Accommodation Types: Villas, Lodge Suites

lost-world-spa-at-oreillysLost World Day Spa – Treat Yourself After A Long Night Of Celebrating

Mey Martinez

Meyling “Mey” Martinez is a travel and outdoor enthusiast born in the tropical island of Cuba and raised in Las Vegas, NV. Consumed by wanderlust and inspired by nature and the fascinating world outside of her doors, she has set sail to visit new destinations. Mey enjoys hiking new trails and visiting national and state parks along with other wonders of the world. Forever an explorer at heart with an adventurous soul, she enjoys sharing her experiences and the latest on travel and glamping through blogging.

Five things to learn from the Swedes

Let’s be clear. Whatever pretty picture you have in your mind about Sweden – you know – blue-eyed blondes living in a well-oiled harmonious society singing ABBA tunes and shopping at IKEA, is well … partially true. But to my surprise this past July, Swedes can teach us a thing or two about slow living, a concept well engrained in the Swedish society. Read on, this Nordic country is more diverse than you’d think.

Fika, a staple of Swedish life

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If there’s one word you should learn first, and learn quickly, that’s Fika. Loosely translated into “having coffee,” Fika is never too far away in Sweden. Unless you’re Dutch or Finish, Swedes drink more coffee than you. That’s a fact. Swedes love their coffee (or tea), and while this is not big news in itself, the philosophy behind it is. A long observed social custom meant to be shared with friends and colleagues twice a day, Fika encourages to make time for a break. Somewhat baffling for a first-time visitor to break for coffee and cake already at 10am, not long after breakfast, and again around 4pm, this custom extends to corporate culture, where mandatory Fika breaks are the norm. Suffice it to say, there isn’t much coffee to go in Sweden.

Beyond the meatballs

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Swedish food equals meatballs, you might think. Wrong. While meatballs in Sweden are common on most menus, so is fish and other organic foods. Often expensive when compared to the U.S. (or any nation for that matter, except for its Nordic neighbors), the variety and quality of food is impressive. Salmon, for instance, is abundant, and always delicious. I’ve had it for breakfast (accompanied by cress), for lunch on top of quinoa and fresh greens, in masterfully arranged appetizers, and for dinner. The variety of bread took me by surprise, while the cult of waffles for breakfast is observed as religiously as Fika. And then, there’s the ice cream. Judging by the inescapable queues, Swedes love their ice cream.

Design is everywhere

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If you’re like anything me, you go cray cray for design. Well, you’re definitely in the right place for it in Sweden. The Stockholm subway alone is said to be the world’s longest art exhibit. Why? Because some 90 of the 100 subway stations have been painted, and decorated with sculptures, mosaics, engravings and much more by over 150 artists, which means, for a meager subway ticket alone, you can spend hours exploring this gem of underground art. And this is just the beginning. For modern art, head to Moderna Museet, and for the latest designers showcase, to Designtorget.

Idyllic nature and island hopping

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Starting with Stockholm, a city laid out on 14 islands (one-third water, one-third construction, and one-third green spaces), it’s evident nature plays a big role in Sweden. Aside from the capital, known for its high environmental standards, the countryside is pure Swedish idyll – endless pine forests and tranquil creeks, with picturesque villages sprinkled with Falu red wooden houses. But it doesn’t stop here. Head in any one way for long enough and you’ll reach an archipelago. A favorite for locals during the summer, this is Swedish life at its very best. Despite their popularity and easy access by ferry, some islands, like Idö in the Västervik Archipelago, only count five residents.

Quality of life

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Often included in round-ups of best countries to live in, there are definitely several factors that contribute to its merits. Besides the free healthcare and education that as an American, can make you green with envy, navigating through Sweden is easy and worry-free. Bathrooms are unisex, credit cards can be used for as little as buying few stamps, and jaywalking is permitted, granted you decide it’s safe to do so. And then there’s allemannsrett (translated into “every man’s right”), essentially granting the legal right to access private land to wander freely through forests and parks, pick berries and what not, including to camp and make a fire (with great caution). The Swedes are on to something, and we want some of it!

Monica Suma

Monica Suma is a Romanian-American freelance travel writer and blogger, always on the hunt for art, good food and all things Cuba. Through storytelling and an insatiable pursuit for whimsy, she contributes to a variety of publications such as Lonely Planet, BBC Travel, Business Traveller and more. Follow her adventures live on Instagram and Twitter.