From Camp Food To Glamp Food

Sure, the idea of cooking over a campfire can sound romantic — but really think about it. Step one: you’ll need to light a fire. For the semi-capable outdoors men, this should be a walk in the park. Well, except for the fact that you’ll most likely need to haul in your own firewood, and that’s if the area you’re camping in allows campfires in the first place. Next up: the food. Depending on how gourmet you want to get (a can of beans and a hot dog just won’t cut it), you’ll need to plan a campfire friendly menu and bring all the supplies with you, most likely in a heavy cooler. Exhausted yet? Don’t worry, I won’t even talk about the pots, pans, utensils and how to clean them all after they’re dirty. The answer to your camp cooking dilemma — glamping.

Yes — while roughing it on your own in the woods (including cooking your own meals) can be a rewarding experience, why not elevate your next camping trip to a glamping trip and sit back and relax while your camp butler toasts you the perfect marshmallow for your s’more. And yes, I just said camp butler.

Now that I have your attention, here are just four (of endless) glamping dining experiences worth salivating over. But proceed with caution; you’re likely to never pull out that old camp stove again after reading about these:

PHOTO 1 - PAWS UP
The Resort at Paws Up, a 35,000 acre ranch in southwestern Montana, is a culinary beacon within one of America’s most wild settings. Aside from the series of culinary events which Paws Up put on every year, like Montana Master Grillers and Montana Master Chefs, the property offers dining experiences that’ll “wow” even the most seasoned glamper. During warm weather months, you’ll be treated to a massive buffet lunch at Chuck Wagon, an outdoor dining are set along the crystal clear Blackfoot River, where chefs smoke and grill every kind of meat imaginable. Back at your luxury campsite, your camp chef will whip up a gourmet dinner and your camp butler will toast you the perfect marshmallow for your s’more.

PHOTO 2 - LONGITUDE 131
Australia’s outback is one of the world’s most unforgiving places — except if you’re staying at Longitude 131. As the outback’s premier luxury glamping destination, Longitude 131 offers plush accommodations, views of Uluru (a.k.a. Ayers Rock, the sacred site for resident Aboriginals) and one of Australia’s most memorable dining experiences. Dinner at Table 131° will find you and your dining partner sitting at a private outdoor table while the sun sets, candles flicker and one of the most stunning starry skies reveals itself above you. While it may be hard to concentrate on the food, you’ll be treated to a delicious three course meal and plenty of fine Australian wine.

PHOTO 3 - FINCA BELLAVISTA BY ANDERS BIRCH
Nestled deep in the Costa Rican rainforest, Finca Bellavista is comprised of a series of tree houses located high in the tree tops where guests zoom by on zip lines and local flora and fauna serve as entertainment. But back on the ground, Finca Bellavista takes their food seriously. To get in touch with mother earth (as if living in a tree wasn’t enough) you’ll be able to tour and tend to the property’s substantial gardens with a resident gardener. After harvesting a selection of the day’s bounty, you’ll then head to the community kitchen for a cooking class where a chef will teach you how to make empanadas, picadillo, soups and more using your garden fresh ingredients.

PHOTO 4 - FOUR SEASONS BORA BORA
It’s no surprise that Four Seasons Bora Bora, a resort that is synonymous with the word honeymoon, is home to some of the world’s most romantic dining experiences. While private dining can be arranged in your over-water bungalow or on a secluded stretch of beach, for the most romantic dinner in the South Pacific you’ll want to choose the Four Seasons Bora Bora’s private island dinner experience. You and that special someone will be rowed by canoe to a small private island where champagne and canapés await. As the sun sets, you’ll be treated to a decadent meal created specifically by the Executive Chef after a previously arranged personal consultation. And as if the night couldn’t get any more spectacular, you’ll end your meal watching a private Polynesian fire dance performance.

Photo Credits: The Resort at Paws Up, Longitude 131, Finca Bellavista by Anders Berch, Four Seasons Bora Bora.

Trevor Morrow is a Los Angeles based travel who runs the experiential, adventure and luxury travel blog TrevorMorrowTravel.com. You can follow him on Twitter and Instagram at @trevormorrow.

Glamping on the Wild Side

Glamping is an adventure if anything, and if you are looking for ideas that are offbeat, unusual, or maybe even downright strange, you have a choice of unusual glamping accommodations around the world. Interestingly, the highest concentration of the truly offbeat seems to be in Europe, and in the UK in particular.

casa cubes
We’ll start off in Asia, where Casa de la Flora offers something unusual, intriguing, and highly luxurious. If you want your weird on the outside, but want it luxurious and modern on the inside, you’ll be happy with these cutting-edge cubes providing “architecture and unique design amid tropical nature.” The architects pay tribute to the namesake “flora” with living grass carpets covering the roofs of the villas.

whitepod
From cubes to pods: Whitepod eco-luxury hotel and alpine experience blends the unusual with the natural seamlessly. The pods truly look like they belong in the landscape, especially in winter, when guests of this four-season resort can take advantage of the private ski slopes and dog sledding.

cave12
For a true “man cave” experience, check out Sextantio Le Grotte Della Civita in Italy, an amazing hotel of caves in the village of Matera in southern Italy. The proprietors of these ancient caves take their luxury seriously, going so far as to say, “Prehistoric man might never have ventured outside the caves if they had bathrooms like these.”

glamping thorpe bbq
Wagon ho! You won’t find the next two wagon accommodations on the frontier of the American West as you might expect. This first one, featuring a “gypsy wagon” as well as a “shepherd’s hut,” a “horse lorry,” and a “love shack” is located near Banbury, England, about an hour and thirty minutes drive northwest of London, should you decide to travel by modern vehicle.

NZ Wagon
You’ll find another wagon spot in New Zealand. The hosts of Wagonstays, Mike and Jasmine want you to know that their wagon has “all the authenticity and atmosphere from 1870, but with the comfort and luxury of home,” which is in evidence with satellite television, computer controlled showers, and glass doors that lead to a balcony.

tree pod
You’ve heard of pods and tree houses, but how about a pod in a tree? These glamping globes are referred to as “tree tents,” with the Red Kite Tree Tent resort found where else but the UK, this time in Wales. One look at it and you’ll immediately see how this round rental would make any Ewok envious. You can learn more by reading a previous blog entry by Kelly Thomson.

Snapseed
Next up is Ecocamp Glenshee, another UK property that relishes the offbeat accommodation, with a myriad of oddball abodes from which to choose: wooden pods, a “monster” yurt, and “shielings,” or shepherd’s huts, which are found here in the beautiful wilds of Scotland. The Monster Yurt is furnished with “mementos from the Near East,” and Shieling Mohr has a llama theme, and you can go llama trekking with resident llamas Jet, Atticus, and Bradford.

canopy stars big green bus
If all these choices aren’t enough to decide, you can go to the Glamping.com listing of Canopy & Stars, “a colourful collection of quirky accommodation.” These curators of crazy crash pads list glamping properties across much of Europe, and feature wonderfully oddball accommodations ranging from hobbit houses and tree houses to boats, pods, and even a big green bus! No matter how you go glamping, it’s an adventure, so why be normal? Indulge your inner glamping geek at any of these offbeat accommodations.

Kyoto’s Greatest Escape

If Kyoto was where Japanese nobility worked for over 1,000 years, Arashiyama is where they played. Thirty minutes out of the imperial city center and up the Oi-gawa river, shogun mansions and historic hot spring inns are perched on the cliffs and tucked into the red maple trees, including the ryokan Hoshinoya Kyoto. The inn’s history dates back to the Meiji period, but in 2009 Hoshinoya hotels updated the space to a new level of luxury. During our visit we were transported into a serene world where nobles play, artists dream, and couples revel in romance.

01_Hoshinoya_Kyoto-dock_HoneyTrek.com
The Hoshinoya Kyoto experience begins at their boat house. They bring you inside for a cup of green tea and a red bean pastry, then the captain escorts you to the river boat for a beautiful 15-minute cruise to their sublime spot on the cliffs.

02_Hoshinoya_Kyoto-garden_HoneyTrek.com
Hoshinoya Kyoto feels more like a series of homes than a hotel. The architecture maintains a low profile, letting the beauty of the surroundings take center stage. This rock garden mimics the currents of the river and fades out of sight like a waterfall.

03-HoshinoyaKyoto_suite-HoneyTrek.com
Our suite was so chic with graphic wallpaper, a cloud-like bed, wall-to-wall window seats, and a bounty of unique amenities. In the closet we found their signature leisurewear, in the bar a huge selection of teas, and on the desk a beautiful Japanese calligraphy set to help channel our creativity in this inspiring space.

04-HoshinoyaKyoto-Cuisine_honeytrek.com
Then came one of the best meals of our two-year honeymoon. The flavors and presentation of this traditional kaiseki meal were like nothing we’d ever experienced! There were nine courses, one of the most decadent and exquisite being this cocktail of steamed abalone, topped with green apple, fresh sea urchin and caviar osetra.

05_HoshinoyaKyoto-Cuisine-HoneyTrek
Presentation in Japanese cuisine is not just how the food is plated but the beauty of the plate it is served on. Each course was served on hand-painted ceramics in varying artful designs. This course of red beans and rice in a charming fish-shaped bowl was off the menu but given to us and all newlyweds for good luck.

06HoshinoyaKyoto-Bedroom_HoneyTrek.com
We went back to our room to find a honeymoon surprise of sparkling sake wine. The bed and bubbles looked all too inviting.

07_HoshinoyaKyoto-breakfast in bed
The next morning we woke up to the gentle sunlight streaming through our paper shutters and then the soft knock of the chef. He came bearing all the ingredients and cookware to prepare a hot pot breakfast was right in our suite!

08-HoshinoyaKyoto-breakfast-hiking
So full from our bounty of food, we decided to take a walk to the neighboring hillside temple. The views over the river, the fiery red hills, and Kyoto city were spectacular.

09-HoshinoyaKyoto-classes
The Hoshinoya ryokan experience is all about immersion in Japanese culture, inclusive not just of style and cuisine, but customs. They offer guests a number of classes so they can try their hand at Japanese arts, such as tea ceremonies and hand-made incense. Here is a look at our incense teacher, teaching us how to pack and sculpt ash into perfect mounds and position the sandalwood for long and fragrant burning.

10-Tenruji Temple_HoneyTrek.com
Though Hoshinoya Kyoto feels a world away, just down stream are some incredible historic sites. The morning we checked out of our little oasis, we went to the heart of Arashiyama to see the UNESCO heritage site, Tenryuji Temple. It was originally a summer home to a retired shogun but has since become a zen temple and gardens.

11-_Kyoto Skyline_HoneyTrek.com
Kyoto is one of the most spectacular cities in the world with over 2,000 temples, shrines, and historic buildings. We spent nearly one week exploring the imperial capital but found our appreciation for the dense city came to us once we arrived to Arashiyama, sailed up river, slipped into our robes, savored the cuisine, practiced the traditional arts and lived as the nobles did, even just for a few days.

Anne and Mike Howard are creators of the around-the-world honeymoon blog HoneyTrek.com and Long Term Travel Coaches for anyone looking to travel the world safely, affordably and off the beaten path. You can follow @HoneyTrek on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.