Our modern, purpose-built resort developments might just have a few distant roots embedded in our eclectic, Victorian resort towns and holiday destinations. Places such as Aberystwyth, Llangollen and Buxton have surviving buildings, parks and statues that remain as echoes of a thriving heyday. What they all had in common, and still do, is that they developed organically around a natural beauty spot or wellness feature; so in some respect, nothing has changed, except the feature is now more often manufactured.
A last Resort…?
For as many of us that might shudder at being woken by Ruth Madoc chirping ‘Hi de Hi Campers’, there are as many who would love it. Depending on the time of year, we might prefer the tranquillity of a quiet forest retreat, or aim for an action-packed activity break and there’s something in the resort world for all of us, whatever we feel like doing. Whilst there might be pockets of antiquated coloured jacket here and there, today’s resort landscape is moving on, and shaping up to be something far more tailored.
Like any other holiday accommodation sector the glamping industry is one of polarity and its resorts are no different. At one end, we have intimate, boutique offerings like the exclusive eco-resorts that Indonesia and South Africa do so well, check out 'Sandat' in Bali for scrumptious boutique inspiration.
At the other end, larger resorts have been quick to diversify by added glamping pods of some description to their developments. In line with what their guest demographic would want and expect, some have commissioned their own structures with integrated bathroom and kitchen facilities. One might argue that this has influenced industry facility standards, as more guests staying at small sites will now complain when bathrooms are not en-suite - even when they are clearly marketed as being separate.
Leading by Example
For glamping resorts that offer luxury accommodation and experiential activities, a great example is 'Paws Up' in Montana, North America. They’ve got it all – stunning location, gorgeous accommodations, absolutely ‘on the money’ activities. They’ve taken their wild-west history and woven it into a fantastic, one off experience for their guests, with themed accommodation and well thought out activities that will send guests home with unforgettable memories.
Closer to home, catering to the family market, 'Love2Stay' in Shropshire is a trailblazer of a resort development. Their safari tents with private hot tubs, fitted kitchens, roll top baths and underfloor heating have set a new benchmark for resort glamping in the UK. The site was previously laid to pasture, and whilst it had pleasant enough views, it wasn’t a place that visitors would flock to, in fact, unless they popped into the café, caravan or garden store, they’d drive straight past, usually heading for the Welsh coast. However, Salop Leisure created their own attractions by including a fitness suite, thermal spa, fishing lake, barefoot sensory walk, woodland hideout and den building, yoga, meditation classes, children’s nature play zone, and plant-powered natural swimming pool… among others!
A Corporate Domain?
There are multi-million developments planned for the UK which include glamping and given this level of investment most are created by large corporations and companies, and fabulous they are too. However, glamping can also deliver a smaller, but perfectly formed, resort style development and for smaller companies and landowners who want to create a resort development, glamping could, strategically employed, be a way to do so simply by starting small, reinvesting, and developing over time.
It goes without saying that the number of units we develop, need to be sufficient to support other site investments such as eateries and facilities, in line with our chosen business model and guest profile. As a rule, the bigger the investment, the more units are required, unless we’re creating something high end and exclusive, where the high occupancy rates and rental fees will compensate.
We can also work any number of leisure movements and activities into the business model and unique selling point we employ, as well as inspiration from all sorts of existing places and sources to create our own ‘beauty spot’ and unique selling point, maybe even take a look into our local history, where did those Victorians hang out during their holiday... and why?
Image Credit: Morel & Co Associate, Eco Tents Australia