Submitted by guest blogger, Eileen Mowrey
Imagine camping in total comfort. I’m not just talking about a good sleeping pad and a waterproof tent, I mean true luxury. I’m talking about glamping, the outdoor-chic sensation sweeping the nation. Glamour camping is no longer just for A-list celebrities at Coachella and Insta-famous explorers in an exotic country. You, too, can go glamping at the Wilmington KOA!
I grew up camping with my family, and continue to camp a lot as an adult. I had covered most of your classic camping experiences – tents, RVs, lean-tos, hammocks, a simple sleeping bag under the stars – but I had never glamped. That seemed like a fantasy, reserved for Hollywood or honeymoons. When I discovered that the Wilmington KOA offered glamping sites for less than your average hotel room, I was amazed. I had to see how the other half camped.
The Wilmington KOA glamping tents can accommodate up to five people, so myself, four of my friends, and two dogs (pets are welcome) caravanned to the campground after work to experience glamping firsthand. We decided to make the absolute most of the opportunity, bringing with us a feast of charcuterie and plenty of wine and beer to go around. The first pleasant surprise was how secluded the Glamping sites are from the rest of the campground. Set back in a far corner, they are their own little world of luxury down by the Ausable River.
The next jaw-dropping moment was the tent itself. Glamping is a concept very much open to interpretation. Depending on the outfitter, a glamping setup might range from a simple platform with a canvas tent and comfortable cots to a permanent structure complete with a shower and a hot tub. The glamping tents at the Wilmington KOA are definitely on the higher end of the spectrum. While the exterior walls are made of thick canvas, the structure is built on a beautiful wooden platform and is divided into three separate rooms by real walls and sliding barn doors. Honestly, these glamping tents are more glamourous than some of the apartments I’ve lived in.
When we first entered the tent, we found ourselves in a small common room. Two cozy pallet couches and the warm light of a lamp (that’s right, these tents have electricity!) greeted us. There was also a small breakfast nook, complete with a Keurig, mugs, and K-cups. If I didn’t know better I might have mistaken our tent for a boutique hotel room. It was clean, surprisingly warm, and the rustic-chic atmosphere was both romantic and relaxing. An expansive, covered deck with a table and benches almost doubled the overall “living” space and overhead lighting meant we could lounge around outside well into the night.
We set up our feast on the deck, popped open a bottle of wine, and let the relaxing begin. It was a beautiful, warm fall night and we were perfectly comfortable in our cozy flannels. The only sound other than our own laughter was the gentle babbling of the river rushing along. After we had eaten altogether too much cheese, the boys set to work building a fire in the campfire ring and we ladies cozied up in the Adirondack chairs surrounding the growing flames.
As we sat around taking turns roasting the “perfect” marshmallow, it struck me that the mood and the ambiance of this camping trip was as authentic and energized as any other camping trip I had been on. A part of me was concerned that glamping would be somewhat pretentious, and too far removed from what camping has always symbolized for me. In fact, it was all the adventure of a normal camping trip, just with less work! I was still immersed in nature and enjoying quality time spent with friends. It was a win-win!
As the crackling fire began to die down, we decided to head inside and enjoy some time in the common room before heading to bed. Each of the Wilmington KOA’s four glamping tents are designed to sleep up to five people in two bedrooms. One bedroom featured a comfortable, queen-sized bed perfect for snuggling your honey, and the second held two ground-level single beds and an additional lofted single bed. The best part? Linens, pillows, and extra blankets were all provided, so our sleeping bags stayed tucked away in our packs.
The only modern amenity the glamping tent lacked was running water. That said, the nearby bathhouse was the cleanest, most elegant bathhouse I have ever seen while camping. With raw wood accents, it was somewhat reminiscent of a Swedish spa. Towels were provided along with our linens, so I washed off the smell of campfire smoke in a steaming hot shower before calling it a night.
In the morning, we woke refreshed. Sleeping on an actual mattress while camping was a game changer, and has likely spoiled me for future camping trips. We made coffee and hot cocoa and enjoyed watching the woods wake up with us. Birds chirped and the sun began to pour through the thick canopy of leaves overhead. I could have stayed in that moment forever. Sadly, most of our group had to get to work, so we packed up our things and zipped up our tent behind us.
I have been drooling over Insta-perfect photos of glamping for quite some time, and I had high expectations. Every one of them was met or surpassed. It’s so nice to know that this unique experience is available in such an accessible place! The Wilmington KOA is unlike any other campground I have stayed at. Even if you’re not glamping, the campground has so many amenities you might mistake it for a four-star hotel. Electric hook ups are available on almost all sites, cabins feature Cable TV, and there’s even public Wi-Fi if you’re not able to totally disconnect.
While our party was made up entirely of adults and dogs, glamping would be a great family experience too! Keeping kids busy will be a breeze thanks to the large playground, nine-hole mini golf course, and in-ground pool (only open during the summer season). And, unlike backcountry camping, you don’t need to worry if you’ve forgotten something. The KOA’s General Store is stocked with camping supplies, groceries and snacks, propane, firewood, and souvenirs. I only have one warning – once you’ve gone glamping, camping will forever be changed!