Glamorous Camping: Where Wild Meets Refined

For most people, camping is the ultimate cheap getaway. A road trip in the minivan, sleeping bags, tents, a campfire and of course hot dogs on a stick.

But not all camping trips are created equal and chances are you've never been on one that could be described as "glamorous." But glamorous camping is exactly what a growing number of well-heeled vacationers are doing. They even have a word for it: glamping.

To find out how the "other half" do it, we boarded a floatplane in Vancouver, British Columbia, for the hourlong flight to an exclusive campsite on the west coast of Vancouver Island.

A 'Soft Adventure Holiday'

It's not really a campsite -- but you'll get the idea in a minute. Flying over lush, pristine forestland and mountains carved up by rivers, the destination is marked by a smattering of white tents buried deep in this vast rain forest.

The Clayoquot Wilderness Resort is hidden deep in bear country -- seemingly in the middle of nowhere. It is as beautiful as it is remote.

"What we truly are is a soft adventure holiday," said resort director and co-owner John Caton. "And the soft part is the food and beds. And the adventure is just the same thing as you'd get if you were out there doing it on a sleeping pad in a two man pup tent."

He said his resort is to the wilderness what the Four Seasons hotel chain is to cities. Gourmet chef -- check. Wi-fi and laptops outside by the fire -- check. $75 cigars, expensive liquor and wine -- check.

What you won't find are noisy, obnoxious families drinking beer in the next tent over.

Persian Rugs, Antiques and Fine Furniture

And what would a fancy outdoor resort be without fancy tents? At Clayoquot the tents are adorned with Persian rugs, antiques and fine furniture. They have electricity, heat and a thermostat right next to the bed.

"It's very unique. The whole concept of camping is nothing we'd ever experienced before," said Colette Sayre from Long Island, N.Y. "And when you get here to have antiques in your tents, I mean, it's really a lovely, very relaxing experience."

It's also an extremely expensive experience. On average guests pay nearly $10,000 a week. Entire families routinely spend $40,000-$50,000 on a weeklong "glamping" trip at Clayoquot.

"It's not inexpensive to do, but I think it's probably the best money I've ever spent," said Jennie Berliant from Cincinnati, Ohio. "I'd rather be out here than at the Four Seasons in New York City or Paris or anywhere. I mean, to me this is the perfect place to be. I wouldn't wanna be anywhere else!"

Ultra-Rich Campsites

Other companies offer similar posh outdoor adventures. Abercrombie and Kent has offered high-end glamping trips for the ultra-rich in places like Africa for decades.

At Clayoquot, guests essentially get a personalized vacation. A world class chef is on hand to create anything guests want, at any time. Expert guides, horses and private boats are on hand as well.

You can go whale watching and fishing every day, or horseback riding, or kayaking. The list of activities is long and detailed, but when you're paying this kind of money -- that's what it takes.

"The key phrase for us is 'getting away' because it just seems like, you go to Yosemite or someplace like that and it's you and five thousand of your closest friends on the same trail and it's very touristy. So we really go to great lengths to just get away," said Allan Berliant from Ohio.

It is a strange mix of wild and refined -- roughing it and relaxing. Restrooms include hot water, fine soaps and lotions -- right alongside that old-fashioned idea of a wilderness bathroom: the trees.

Camping for Prima Donnas?

We found a pair of 12-year-olds enjoying the massage tent, receiving the sort of high-end, relaxing rubdown most people are lucky to ever experience. Of course, this entire trip is something most people will never experience.

"I like the food a lot. Last night's dinner was the best: rack of lamb," said 12-year-old Evan Sayre from Long Island. But what about s'mores by the campfire or hot dogs? "No," he told us.

Of course, the chef could make it, but who has room after the nightly five-course dinner? So what does resort director Caton say to those outsiders looking in who say this isn't real camping but camping for rich prima donnas?

"You know what, it takes money to come here but I don't think any of the people who come here are," he said. "They might be before they arrive but once they step off that plane on the dock it's kinda neat to see them shed those characters they are on the outside world."

So remember, if you ever find yourself looking for a five star outdoor adventure there's no need for the big backpack -- they'll supply one for you. But please don't forget the credit card.

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