Why Glamping, Travel’s Hottest Trend, Makes Sense

Why settle for the discomforts of camping when you could add amenities—like a comfy bed? Why be stuck in a hotel when nature’s beauty beckons? Glamping is the solution to a well-rounded vacation experience. Many glamping destinations are far-flung, yet some are nearby. They bring you the luxuries camping cannot and a natural world far, far away from crowded hotels and resorts. Continue reading “Why Glamping, Travel’s Hottest Trend, Makes Sense”

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Roadside Americana: Tipi Encampment on Route 66

Have you slept in a wigwam lately? – reads the sign at the entrance of Wigwam Motel in Holbrook, Arizona.

It was the first time I had heard of a wigwam – a domed room dwelling formerly used by the Native Americans – the namesake for the property, and more so, for the Wigwam Motels, also known as the Wigwam Villages.

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Upon arrival, the tipis were shining brightly in the soft, sunset light. Contrary to any other motel I’ve stayed at, the layout of the village was a remarkable sight in itself. A total of 15 wigwams were displayed on three sides, the reception area closing it into a square. Restored vintage cars, one swankier than the prior, were cleverly placed in front of some of the units, while antique, green metal benches stamped with the words “Wigwam Village #6” were scattered throughout the compound.

The unique concept belongs to Frank Redford, a man whose infatuation with the Native American culture made headlines. Following the rage of the auto camping in the early 1920s, the notion of leisure further developed; cottage camps or the so-called proto motels started to pop up all over the country. Then, in 1933, Redford developed a tipi-shaped building, which would house his impressive collection of artifacts. The following year, he added a group of tipi-shaped cabins to entice visitors to stay the night, which is when the name of Wigwam Village came to existence. As unique as the retro motel concept was at the time, Redford applied for a Design Patent, which he was granted in 1937.

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As a result, a total of seven Wigwam Villages were built between 1933 and 1949, of which three have survived. The lodgings for each additional village were thus built in the same format – in the shape of tipis – in what was to become a modern interpretation into the lifestyle of the Native Americans. Deemed as historic landmarks under the National Register of Historic Places, two of the three remaining motels are located on the iconic Route 66. Wigwam Village #6, in Holbrook, Arizona, where we had just stopped for the night is one of them. Arizona motel owner Chester Lewis built the village, fascinated by Redford’s original design. He purchased the rights from its rightful owner, by conceding to a novel agreement: the profits of the coin-operated radios installed in the Holbrook village would be sent to Redford as payment. Few decades later, the property is still operating.

inside wigwam

The units itself are fairly small – the size of any average hotel room. But this was no hotel room; it was a modern tipi of sorts, made out of solid materials on the outside, containing the original restored hickory furniture on the inside. Two double beds are included, cable TV and a window-mounted air conditioner. On the side, there is a desk with a mirror. Each unit includes a bathroom with a sink, toilet and shower. In keeping with the retro vibe, there are no telephones or Internet access.

And retro it is. Truly evoking the nostalgia of the 1930s American vacation, located on the historic Route 66, a stay inside the wigwam will take you back in time like few places of its kind will.

As for its surrounding attractions, once you hop back into your automobile to continue on your American West journey, the Petrified Forest National Park is nearby, as well as the monumental Grand Canyon, Arizona’s most celebrated site.

Photos provided by Monica Suma and Wigwam Motel/Credit Beth Lennon

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.

Pacific Rim Glamping at Wya Point Resort

One of the many reasons I’m gaga for glamping is because it offers an all-access pass to nature, and at Wya Point Resort, perched on the cusp of Canada’s West Coast, this access is VIP.

Located a few hours from Vancouver, BC, via car and a trip aboard BC Ferries, connecting the mainland to Vancouver Island, I arrived at Way Point Resort with my family in the early evening. The sun was starting to set, bathing the resort’s private beach in a pink, blue, and golden-hued light so complex it would be difficult for Pantone to capture it in a color chip.

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So taken by the way the light was peeking through the old-growth trees towering over the Pacific Ocean, we dashed out of our car and ran to the resort’s sandy cove before even setting foot in our yurt. Once the sun sank into the horizon, we walked a few steps to our “glampsite” and realized we could have witnessed the kaleidoscope sky from the lounge chairs topping the cedar deck circling our yurt.

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Built strong and sturdy by the Ucluelet First Nation—the original inhabitants of the land—to withstand their position at the edge of the Pacific Rim, the 15 beach-access yurts at Wya Point Resort are far from fair-weather. Indoor wood-burning stoves provide heat in the winter, while the pop-up rooftop skylight cools in the summer. Small indoor kitchens—intended to complement the outdoor grill—provide just enough space to prepare a coastal feast.

At 8:00 p.m. the tide rolled in and with it, waves so powerful, their froth dusted our yurt’s window with millions of micro bubbles. The sound of the waves juxtaposed against the quietness of nature soothed my soul into a sleep so deep I awoke the next morning to the cry of eagles.

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After an obligatory sunrise beachcombing session where we checked out tide pools teeming with sea anemones and starfish, we headed into the nearby town of Ucluelet. Locally-roasted coffee from The Foggy Bean Coffee Co was on our menu, as was a coastal hike along the 5.5-mile Wild Pacific Trail.

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Before returning to our woodsy hideaway, we felt it was our duty to the destination (and our inner foodies) to pick up salmon and halibut caught that morning for an evening cookout.

Barbecuing local fish under a canopy of ancient cedars, I was struck by the privilege of Pacific Rim glamping, and the front-row seat Wya Point Resort gives you to the Pacific wild.

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Know this:

– Well-equipped bathrooms are a few steps from each yurt.
– In addition to yurts, Way Point Resort also features campsites, as well as a collection of nine beachfront, timber-frame lodges.
– The region is famous for fishing, surfing, kayaking, and wildlife viewing, so there’s no shortage of activities.