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Pop-Up Tents No S’extra: Glamping Is the New Yard Tenting

If designer Ken Fulk wants to escape everyday life, he doesn’t have to go far. He makes his way to a hilltop platform tent at his Durham Ranch in Napa, California, equipped with the basics: a queen-size bed with zebra-pattern throw pillows, antique leather stools, and a whiskey bar.

“It’s my version of camping – it’s that special place to sneak into, be it for a nap, a cocktail or a campfire,” said Mr. Fulk of the 12 by 14 foot tent he ” Hemingway “calls. for its macho decor.

If he’s more in the mood for “grandma-chic”, he stays in a second tent just a few meters away and equipped with colorful lanterns, old steam trunks and a painted metal bed with lace-trimmed bedclothes from Ralph Lauren.

Backyard glamping

Families create retreats on their own property

One of two tents on Ken Fulk’s 80-acre Durham Ranch in Napa, California, Hemingway features a queen-size Ralph Lauren bed, antique leather stools, and a wicker basket that doubles as a side table.

Alanna Hale for the Wall Street Journal

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One of two tents on Ken Fulk’s 80-acre Durham Ranch in Napa, California, Hemingway features a queen-size Ralph Lauren bed, antique leather stools, and a wicker basket that doubles as a side table.

Alanna Hale for the Wall Street Journal

Glamping – communicating with nature in a tent full of comfort – was once the pastime of kings and sultans. Now some homeowners are buying expensive tricky tents so they can get away from it all without leaving their own belongings or high thread count sheets.

“Glamping is all about an upscale experience – not a sleeping bag, but real beds and soft bedding with patio chairs that you can sit on your porch and gaze at the stars and enjoy a glass of wine,” said Sarah Dusek, co-founder of the American Glamping Association, a trading group established last year, and co-founder and CEO of Under Canvas, a consortium of tent resorts in eight national parks with wood-burning stoves, king-size beds and en-suite bathrooms with organic toiletries.

Ken Fulk (left) and his husband Kurt Wootton spent around $ 30,000 on each of the two tents.


Alanna Hale for the Wall Street Journal

Good wine … some good quality chocolate, ”said Mr. Fulk.


Alanna Hale for the Wall Street Journal

Ms. Dusek said the demand for upscale tented accommodation has grown exponentially in recent years. Glamping Hub, an Airbnb-style website launched in 2014, now has more than 21,000 members in the US and offers overnight stays in everything from safari tents to yurts to converted grain silos.

“We always did glamping, but the word didn’t exist. We have seen the most growth in the past five years, ”said Ivy Fife, marketing manager for Colorado Yurt Co., which sells custom yurts and tents to campsites, resorts and private customers.

Kristin Tang camped first on her lake property in Fruita, Colorado. Then she wanted to make that feeling permanent and create a house that consisted of three yurts. She gives us a tour of her high-end glamp retreat. PHOTO: Alex Griffin

“Glamping” first appeared in the Oxford English Dictionary in 2016, but the activity itself dates back centuries. In 1520, King Henry VIII and French King Francis I camped with their followers in tents woven with silk and gold thread during a two-week tournament known as the Field of the Gold Cloth. Sultans in the Ottoman Empire used richly embroidered tents for ceremonies and excursions, as well as during military campaigns.

Mr. Fulk and his husband, Kurt Wootton, a musician, both 53, also have homes in San Francisco, New York City and Provincetown, Massachusetts. They pitched the two tents after acquiring the 80-acre Napa property in 2005 and initially stayed in them as they remodeled their home around 1940. Since then, they’ve also built a steel-framed party barn and a rustic dune hut modeled after the artist studios once found in Provincetown.

Jane Maren, 8 years old, looks out of her family’s 16-foot yurt in Evergreen, Colorado.


Jimena Peck for the Wall Street Journal

The timber frame tents are made by Sweetwater Bungalows, a California-based company, and are simple but built to withstand the elements. Vinyl fabric walls and a canvas ceiling let light and sound through, while wooden doors and framed glass windows create a sense of solidity. A rain cover – a so-called fly – protects the tent from dirt and moisture.

“You don’t feel like you are in a ‘Brady Bunch’ tent that is going to collapse – it’s more like ‘Out of Africa’,” said Mr. Fulk. The tent cabins are available in four basic models and three sizes. Prices range from $ 4,900 to $ 10,250. The largest model, 14 by 20 feet, can be divided into two rooms


“The majority of our customers are people with second homes who use our tents as an additional guest room, office, art studio or chill space,” said Blair Paterson, founder of the company.

In contrast to stationary guest houses and studios, tents are usually classified as temporary structures – a plus when dealing with local zoning problems. Although regulations vary from municipality to municipality, tents that are an average of 200 square feet or less generally do not require planning permission.

Mr. Fulk spent approximately $ 30,000 on each of his tents – including building a raised deck and porch and furnishing. “I probably spent more on sheets than I did on the tent,” he said.

The campsite has a fire pit, grill and outdoor shower. A chemical toilet is hidden in the forest, but there is no electricity or internet connection. Although it is only a short walk up a hill from his house, Mr Fulk prefers to load his Land Rover Defender from 1965 with provisions – “good wine… some high quality chocolate” – for trips to the campsite.

Glamping gear

The rustic four-poster bed from the La Lune Collection is made from locally harvested poplar and willow branches. King size four poster bed with premium finish, $ 5,330

Stainless steel Yukon by Solo Stove Fireplace promises bigger flames and less smoke. Solo stove Yukon, $ 495

Barebones lanterns They have a retro look and rechargeable batteries and can be hung from a tent pole with a built-in snap hook. Beacon lantern, $ 45;; portable charger, $ 20

“It’s like a getaway within a vacation,” said Mr Fulk. “The most amazing thing about these tents is that we set them up 15 years ago and literally didn’t do anything to them other than sweep them. Somehow they survive through wind and rain. “

For those looking to glamp all year round in harsh climates, yurts – sturdy, dome-shaped tents originating in Central Asia – may be a better option.

“Yurts are much easier to heat and cool,” said Ms. Fife of Colorado Yurt Co. With additional structural support such as cleats and heavier rafters, the yurts can withstand high winds and snow loads. The company’s bespoke yurts, 16 to 30 feet in diameter, cost between $ 9,000 and $ 20,000.

David Maren, senior vice president at Spire Digital, a Denver-based software development company, bought a 16-foot yurt in 2018 for approximately $ 14,000, including shipping, from the Colorado Yurt Co. for his Evergreen, Colorado home a permit for an accessory structure.

The yurt stands on a raised platform that is wedged into a stand of pine trees. Moose, black bears and other wildlife pass by frequently.

“I started imagining what it would be like to have family nights in the yurt and hear the moose and mountain lions,” said Maren, 46, and father of two young children with wife Courtney Maren, 45.

Along with large windows, French doors, and a tinted skylight, the insulated yurt has structural reinforcements that allow it to withstand 5 feet of snow on its roof.

A Norwegian thermostat-powered Jotul natural gas stove holds it in place, and two 85-foot zip lines that run between the yurt and the deck of the Marens house make it accessible even in heavy snow. The total cost of the outdoor retreat – including a 500-gallon hot tub and pyro tower oven for smoking salmon and baking pizza – was more than $ 46,000, Maren said. “We have set ourselves the goal of spending one night a week in the yurt as a family – to escape screen time,” he said.

Jane and Shepherd Maren, 12 years old, are reading in the yurt. The family can zip lines from the deck of their home to the yurt.


Jimena Peck for the Wall Street Journal

The Marens try to stay in the yurt at least one night a week. The Exped MegaMat Duo sleeping mats in front of the $ 4,000 Jotul gas stove.


Jimena Peck for the Wall Street Journal

However, the yurt has electricity, cable TV connection and high-speed internet. Mr. Maren sometimes uses it as a home office.

“We just got a $ 5 million deal on the yurt,” he said.

Tents made for glamping

The Colorado tent


Denver tents

Denver tent

Denver Tent was founded during the Colorado Gold Rush in 1890 and once sold canvas tents to prospectors. Today the tents are made of canvas or a light, UV-resistant polymer fabric and are used as rustic guest rooms and children’s playgrounds, says owner Laurie Womer.

Prices start at $ 3,599 for a 10 by 15 foot tent.

Bubble hat


Matthew & Gabriela Giampietro / El Nidolable

Bubble hats

Made of heavy PVC material, the transparent bladders have a zipper along the base so beds and other furniture can be placed inside before inflating. A fan-like inflation system keeps the huts buoyant. They can also be adapted for plumbing and electricity.

Made-to-measure huts start at $ 3,490 for a 10 foot.

The Lotus Belle

Lotus Belle

The tents of the Deluxe series are made of treated canvas and have two doors, zipped windows and roof vents for optimal airflow. The 16-foot hybrid deluxe model offers 200 square feet of interior space with a 10.5-foot-high ceiling.

The Hybrid Delux model costs $ 2,900.

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