Top tips to choosing a quality glamping holiday

Date Posted: 15/06/2013

Glamping at Eskdale, photo credit The Camping and Caravanning Club.

Glamping - that’s ‘glamorous camping’ - has seen a real boost in popularity in recent years. So what’s the secret to choosing a quality glamping holiday for your group? Gary Swarbrooke, director of policy and quality at Quality in Tourism reveals all.

There’s been a real surge over the last few years in the popularity of group glamping holidays. To support this, VisitEngland and Quality in Tourism - England’s official assessment body - have cultivated an alternative accommodation scheme containing a lengthy and diverse list of quality-assessed accommodation providers.

So what exactly is glamping?

For decades there has been a huge divide between people who like to get back to nature in a tent and holidaymakers who would rather stay in a luxury cottage with all the mod cons.

Glamping offers a very happy middle ground.

To those who are accustomed to a life of comfort, ease and extravagance, the idea of sleeping under canvas with no bed and no hot water can be horrifying.

And this is why the concept of glamping has become so popular - because it offers all the joys of camping (the freedom, the simplicity, the chance to get back to nature) without depriving you of any of your home comforts.

Glamping nowadays comes in many forms. At one end of the scale you have tents, tipis and yurts - all the fun of camping.

At the other end you have the weird and wonderful glamping concepts - such as a traditional caravan, or even a tree house.

Glamping is likely to be cheaper too - and in today’s economic climate, an inexpensive holiday where you cut costs without cutting quality is like gold dust.

How can you select a quality glamping holiday?

The first question for group travel organisers to ask is, are the basics being done right? Just because you’re booking a group glamping holiday, which perhaps is in a slightly different setting than the usual hotels you book, you should still expect cleanliness, comfortable beds, etc.

Glamping. Photo credit The Camping and Caravanning Club.

Your group is going glamping because it is unique, and fascinating. Make sure where they’re staying provides plenty of information on the history of the place, how it came about, what it used to be before etc. This should be all on their website. If it isn’t then perhaps there isn’t much to say, or they simply don’t care about telling you - either way, it already suggests that this might not be a quality experience.

This could be the first time your group are going on a glamping holiday, and staying in a wigwam or tipi. Are there clear instructions and guidelines on the website or when you phone and book to what you should expect? Glamping can mean different things to different people. So don’t assume it’s going to be a luxury tent or wigwam that your group will be staying in.

Ask the owners about the layout of the site, mainly how the accommodation is spaced. Sometimes glamping operators put tents close together (particularly in the summer) to maximise profits. Make sure your group will have plenty of privacy -you hear a lot more when glamping than you would if staying in a hotel.

Walking and cycling are two of the most popular activities undertaken by holidaymakers in the UK. Does the glamping accommodation you’re looking to book have a separate space for drying outdoor clothing and footwear? Are there boot scrapes and lockable undercover areas for safe overnight storage of bicycles?

Health and safety is more important than ever. Especially if your group are going to be sleeping in rooms which perhaps weren’t originally built to be used as bedrooms. Make sure the site owners have all the right procedures in place.

One in four (27.2%) of the UK population has a long-standing health problem or disability. Is the establishment you’re looking to book cater for those with mobility problems? Do they cater for those with hearing difficulties and the visually impaired too? This might not be relevant to you, but might be very important to one of your group members.

Glamping. Photo credit The Camping and Caravanning Club.

Group travel organisers should also find out if there are on-site facilities, including a shop, leisure area, tourist information and laundry facilities.

It’s also worth finding out what activities are on offer. Will your group just simply be sat around a fire, or is there lots to do? For example some sites may offer clay shooting, horse riding, etc. Also, what’s nearby? Any nice pubs/restaurants? Or will your group be in the middle of nowhere? It’s what’s on-site and off-site that will help bring that extra bit of quality to your holiday.

Finally, determine whether or not the establishment is accredited. This is just as important for glamping accommodation as it is with four and five-star hotels, if not more. It gives that seal of approval, and ensures that it is a quality establishment.

When booking a group glamping holiday or an alternative accommodation establishment, always look for the VisitEngland accredited quality rose. It could make all the difference to your group trip.

Quality in Tourism (QiT) is the official assessment service provided for VisitEngland. With a field force of more than 60 experienced assessors and a highly dedicated in-house team, the organisation carries out assessments and handles the administration of the national quality assessment schemes on behalf of VisitEngland. For more information telephone: 01684-864083 or e-mail pat.rigby@uk.g4s.com.

Photo credit: All photos courtesy of The Camping and Caravanning Club (www.campingandcaravanningclub.co.uk).

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