“Glamping” earned a spot in the Oxford English Dictionary in 2016, and since then the trend—camping, but make it fashion, basically—has grown exponentially, both in terms of options and fabulousness. Now, roughing it is a thing of the past. Here are our five favorite places to experience the great outdoors in style.
For the King of the Jungle
Naviva, A Four Seasons Resort
Punta Mita, Mexico
I can see the Pacific Ocean from the private plunge pool on the deck of my biophilically designed tent at Naviva, but the view is partially obscured by palm trees, manzanitas, and other native plants… and that’s kind of the point. This adults-only, 15-tent resort—the first in a new concept from Four Seasons—is surely luxurious, but there’s never a moment when I forget that I’m in the Mexican jungle. Hawks, pelicans, and blue-footed boobies soar overhead. Hummingbirds and butterflies flit between flowers. A coati (an extremely cute sort of Central American raccoon) sneaks up to my table to see what I’m eating at the restaurant, Copal Cocina. The khaki-clad butlers are called guides, and the central pool is named the Selva (jungle) Pool.
Naviva, which opened in December on a 48-acre plot next to the Four Seasons Punta Mita, about a 45-minute drive from Puerto Vallarta, operates in a relaxed manner that makes me feel as if I’m staying in a friend’s backyard (if that friend were, say, a wellness-focused Bond villain with a secret jungle compound). There’s neither lobby nor front desk. Copal eschews menus, instead serving set meals—one night, my dinner consists of avocado hummus, caprese salad, gnocchi, and beef Wellington—while also offering to whip up whatever the kitchen has the ingredients for anytime I walk into the dining room.
There are plenty of opportunities for immersion in nature, both on property and off. One morning, I go for a walk on Naviva’s on-site trail network; the next morning, a Four Seasons driver zips me over to the Vista Paraíso ranch, where I hop on a horse and ride through the village of Higuera Blanca and the jungle down to the beach. Even my massage treatment takes place in an open-air pod, where I can listen to the trees rustling in the wind and the parakeets calling out to one another. The ultimate in both connection and indulgence, though, is the temazcal ritual, in which a curandero (healer) pours water over hot volcanic rocks and then leads me in chants about the natural and spiritual worlds as steam envelopes us in a dome-shaped “house of heat.” I emerge cleansed, and return to my tent to survey my jungle kingdom once more. From $3,950, all-inclusive, fourseasons.com/naviva —Justin Goldman
For the Coastal Explorer
Terramor Outdoor Resort
Bar Harbor, Maine
The canvas flaps of the Alder tent at Terramor are peeled back. The sun sets over a field of wild grass waving in the breeze. A flame flickers in the firepit. “This is so pretty,” my son says, before summoning up the highest praise he can muster: “It looks like a screen saver.”
We are city folk, through and through, and had this been camping, not glamping, our survivalist shortcomings would be painfully apparent. But here on Mount Desert Island, near Acadia National Park, the 64 luxurious tents spread across 60 acres of forest give the impression of camping without the elemental struggle. Each canvas tent, set on a wooden platform, contains real beds (nice ones too, topped with Frette linens and Pendleton blankets), a real shower (better than what we have at home), bathrobes, nightlights, and Wi-Fi. There’s a lodge, with wine (for me) and chicken tenders (for the kids). The fire pits come with precut kindling. For a camping purist, this is sacrilege—but for a family just dipping our toes into the wonders of the great outdoors, it’s a good first step. Nature is everywhere, and we can’t help but be awed. At night, as the bullfrogs croak and the constellations shine, my son turns on the white noise machine to drown out the sounds of nature with… more sounds of nature.
It’s easy to earn your nightly s’mores here: You can spend an entire day hiking the rugged shoreline of Acadia (try the 2.4-mile out-and-back Lower Harbor Trail) or avail yourself of Terramor’s lobster-to-table program and travel the waters with a real lobsterman before returning to the resort for a feast. A less strenuous activity? Scouring the shelves at the Bar Harbor location of Sherman’s Maine Coast Book Shops for something you can read aloud around the fire, until it grows too dark to make out the words.
From $370, terramoroutdoorresort.com —Joshua David Stein
For the Desert Dreamer
The Nest by Sonara
An Arabian sand gazelle greets me when I arrive at The Nest, set amid rippling sand dunes in the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve. The glampsite, which debuted last September, is just 45 minutes from the glitz and glass towers of downtown Dubai, but it feels a world away. The 14 “nests,” designed by Italian architect Gianni Ranaulo, resemble butterflies with outstretched wings resting peacefully on the sand, blending seamlessly with the desert landscape. Each vaulted tent has a softly lit bedroom, a tiled en-suite bathroom, and an outdoor sitting area.
A stay here feels like a communal affair. Guests gather for appetizers in the evening, when the dunes appear to darken as the orange sun slips below the horizon, leaving behind an ombre sky that shifts from light blue to cobalt, eventually revealing an array of glittering stars. Dinner is a feast of hummus, grilled meats, and seafood, with a quartet of delectable desserts. I cap off the night with a Sky Safari, gazing through a telescope while learning about the innovations of Middle Eastern astronomers.
The next morning, I spy hoofprints outside my tent, suggesting that my gazelle friend kept an eye on things while I slept. I attempt to leave my own footprints in the sand on a sunrise dune climb, only to discover that for every step forward I take, the dunes reclaim half. Not that I’m complaining; I’m just glad to be up to see the reemergence of the sun and the floating hot-air balloons in the sky. A post-breakfast ride atop a swaying camel completes my Arabian experience, though this is one nest I don’t want to leave.
From $534, nara.ae/nest —Robin Cherry
For the Boho Rambler
Joshua Tree, California
My son is confused when we arrive at AutoCamp in Joshua Tree, California. “How do we hook up the Airstream to our rental car?” he asks, looking across the field of silver trailers gleaming in the sun. When I tell him our stay will be stationary, he’s disappointed, but only for a moment—after all, there’s a pool here, along with swings, a communal firepit, and a general store selling kettle corn and lemonade. And then there’s the ultimate amenity: other kids to play with.
The AutoCamp brand debuted in Santa Barbara in 2012 and now boasts six camps across the country (with three more on the way); the Joshua Tree location opened last year, and it perfectly exemplifies the collection’s cool, carefree spirit. The retrofitted Airstreams—smartly divided into a bedroom, a kitchen/lounge, and a bathroom—make trailer living seem like the height of luxury. While they may be small, they somehow have everything you need (French press, mini fridge, extra blankets for cozying up on the Adirondack chairs outside) tucked away in clever cabinets.
The location makes exploring easy. The north entrance of Joshua Tree National Park is just six miles away; we go early and hike Ryan Mountain, then swing by Skull Rock for some photos. Later, we step back in time with a visit to Pioneer-town, an Old West town established in 1946 by actor Dick Curtis to be a “living, breathing movie set”; it now houses hip vintage clothing and pottery shops, as well as Pappy & Harriet’s, a terrific road-house restaurant and concert venue. (Even Paul McCartney has played here!) You’ll want to be back at camp before the sun sets, though. On our last night, we eat takeout from a Mexican restaurant at our picnic table and then head to the firepit for s’mores. My son works up the nerve to ask the other kids milling about to play a game of tag while my husband and I sit and enjoy the cool breeze and warm fire with a glass of rosé from the bar. The kids play until their cheeks are flushed and stars fill the sky. Why would I want to move this trailer anywhere else, when things are perfect here?
From $152, autocamp.com –Ellen Carpenter
For the Big Sky Seeker
West Yellowstone, Montana
It’s 5 a.m., and the chill of the Montana morning hangs in the air as the sun creeps up over the wooded horizon. Sitting on the spacious porch of our safari-style tent at Under Canvas West Yellowstone, I watch the world come to life, hoping to catch a glimpse of a bald eagle. The smell of our woodstove permeates the air—a wake-up call that’s nicely complemented by my espresso. My partner is still snuggled soundly in the luxe linens of our generous king-size bed, grateful for the plush surroundings.
Under Canvas launched at this location 11 years ago, ushering in the glamping boom, and the brand now comprises 11 sites near national parks across the U.S. (In June, a brand-new North Yellowstone camp debuted in Paradise Valley, Montana.) Dragging myself away from the breathtaking view, I take a hot shower in my private bathroom and gear up to explore Yellowstone National Park. We’re just a 10-minute drive from the West Yellowstone gate, and from there we’ll be spotting bison and taking in the Rocky Mountain scenery on the way to Old Faithful, the Grand Prismatic Lake, and a picnic lunch at Gibbon Meadows.
First, though, more coffee. Just outside our zippered door is a maze of tent-dotted neighborhoods and thoughtfully designed social spaces (quiet hammock hamlets, wood-stocked firepits). My partner joins me for a breakfast of sausage and egg tacos at the main lodge, which is stylishly outfitted with West Elm furnishings. Before we head out for the day, I ask the concierge what else an East Coaster like myself needs to see in Montana. “You ever been to a rodeo?” he replies. “The Wild West Yellowstone Rodeo is happening right down the road.” We add another item to the agenda: A stop to pick up some cowboy boots.
From $349, undercanvas.com —Hannah Huber