The concept of glamping, or glamorous camping, is nothing new. But this year’s pandemic has brought the trendy concept back into the spotlight as more and more people seek outdoor, socially distanced experiences.
If “roughing it” isn’t your thing, glamping offers a way to enjoy the best parts of nature with comfortable, and even luxurious, amenities. Think indoor plumbing, chef-crafted meals and cloud-like mattresses.
Whimsy amid the blueberries
Just 2½ miles from Lake Michigan and situated among a 10-acre working blueberry farm in South Haven, The Fields is a 30-acre glamping destination that could be out of the pages of a storybook.
“The experience blends childlike wonder with opulent style,” said Irene Wood, owner of The Fields. “It provides a connection with nature in combination with resort-like amenities and luxury accommodations. Guests are encouraged to unplug and reset, reconnecting with themselves, their friends and their loved ones.”
Wood, a South Haven native, opened The Fields in the summer of 2019. She created The Fields as an idyllic respite for those with an adventurous spirit, who want to connect with nature while enjoying the added benefits of resort-like amenities.
Currently, The Fields offers 10 luxury tents on-site but an expansion is underway, which will add nine more tents in the 2021 season. These tents are nothing like you’re used to. En-suite bathrooms with luxury toiletries and bathroom amenities, king-size beds and linens, wood burning stoves and small cooling units are just a few of the upscale offerings. The tents sleep two adults, and children under age 12 can join for an additional fee.
“There’s no WiFi and there’s no TV,” Wood said. “This is a time to get away from the typical and have a luxurious adventure that promotes relaxation and self-care. The intimate and quiet setting also lends itself well to our current travel climate. The built-in socially distant glamping setup is ideal for those who want to get away, but also want to avoid crowds and more populated travel settings.”
There’s no denying one of the best parts about camping is the food. At The Fields, guests are treated to chef-prepared meals made with locally sourced ingredients. Complimentary breakfast and “pie happy hour” are available daily, and guests can pick fresh berries from the working blueberry farm during harvest at zero charge. Lunch and dinner can be purchased a la carte — served in the common area, packed in a picnic basket or given in the form of a meal kit for guests to prepare themselves.
Nearby activities for guests include hiking at the Kal-Haven hiking trail, fishing, sailing, cooking classes, dune rides, wine tours and much more. The Fields Concierge can help visitors find the perfect fit. On-site group activities include yoga, personal campfires and picnics.
The Fields is typically open Memorial Day through the last weekend in October. Reservations are sold out for the 2020 season, but availability for the 2021 season will open Oct. 1.
“Typically, the following season’s reservations are opened up first to returning guests and are then opened up to the public,” Wood said. “That said, the additional occupancy for 2021 will offer excellent opportunity for returning and first-time guests to book their stay.”
In addition to adding nine new tents next year, The Fields expansion plan includes the addition of the Treehouse Spa and a new indoor/outdoor bar added to The Willow common area.
Cherry butter and sweet dreams
Located amid the drumlin hills in Ellsworth sits Rocky Top Farms, a working cherry orchard. Known for producing gourmet cherry butters and preserves, the 300-acre farm offers overnight stays in its cabins, yurts and campsites.
“We offer two yurt tents, two retro campers and three cabins of various sizes,” said Heidi Cooper, hospitality manager at Rocky Top Farms. “We also have four serve-yourself campsites. More people are camping and glamping than ever! We book up for the summer pretty quickly for weekends, with more weekdays available last minute.”
For glampers who want their vacation “off the grid,” Rocky Top Farms is the place to be. The Pop’s Pride cabin, which sleeps two, is secluded on 50 acres. The rustic, old-school timber frame cabin with screened-in walls doesn’t have electricity, which allows guests to completely unplug. The two on-site yurt tents also offer off-the-grid experiences.
“The experience is all off-grid (just two of the cabins are electrified with running water), the remainder have a hand pump well for water and clean port-a-potties,” Cooper said. “Think amazing night skies, many acres of hiking and biking trails, play with goats and baby pigs. We also have a 21-hole disc golf course on-site, and three ponds to explore. We are minutes from Torch Lake and Lake Michigan beaches.”
For those seeking more modern amenities, two of Rocky Top Farms’ cabins fit the bill. The timber-frame Little Cabin (sleeps two) features a sleeping loft with incredible views of the night skies. There’s a woodstove for cozy evenings and a front porch for sipping morning coffee. It also includes a small kitchen and bathroom. The Little Cabin can be rented separately or in conjunction with the nearby Treehouse, a custom-built, second-story cabin. These two cabins share a six-person hot tub. The Treehouse features a limited kitchen, two bedrooms, a bathroom and large windows for natural light in daytime and stargazing at night. The Treehouse sleeps six.
Cooper said Rocky Top Farms has been renting its accommodations for about eight years now. Each rental has its own Airbnb listing.
“I think our amazing location sets us apart from the rest,” she said. “We are immersed in nature, but close to tourist towns like Traverse City, Elk Rapids, Charlevoix and Petoskey.”
Glampers wishing to buy Rocky Top Farms’ products while in Ellsworth can visit the gift shop at 11486 Essex Road. The shop is open 24/7, March through December (weather permitting). The gift shop adheres to the honor system of payment. The Rocky Top Farms online store ships products throughout the U.S. and Canada.