Would you rather sleep in an Airstream than a tent? Glamping sites are ramping up across the US

·4 min read
AutoCamp Cape Cod, an Airstream-dominated camp site in Cape Cod’s southwestern corner, opened in April.
AutoCamp Cape Cod, an Airstream-dominated camp site in Cape Cod’s southwestern corner, opened in April.

FALMOUTH, Mass. – Retro-futuristic silver bullet Airstream campers are neatly lined up in small groves on a green hillock above Little Sippewissett Marsh in Cape Cod’s southwestern corner.

This is AutoCamp Cape Cod, opened in April in partnership with Boston-based developers Blue Flag Partners and the latest from California-based AutoCamp, a luxury Airstream glamping company, which began in 2013 in Santa Barbara, just before the glamping – that is, glamorous camping – trend took off.

“It was kind of an Airstream motel,” AutoCamp’s co-founder Ryan Miller says of the original camp. “The goal was to revolutionize outdoor lodging and have guests experience stylish modern Airstreams. Our business model is ‘great design meets the great outdoors.’”

In 2016 came a California wine country outpost, AutoCamp Russian River. In 2019, the larger AutoCamp Yosemite opened, featuring a swimming pool and other expanded infrastructure. AutoCamp Joshua Tree will open by the end of the year.

The expansion will continue in 2022 with a site in New York’s Catskill Mountains and another near Zion National Park in Utah.

Glamping has never been so popular, benefiting from 2020’s pandemic shutdown as vacationers sought social-distancing-friendly accommodations.

Need a social-distancing-friendly vacation? This is the summer to try glamping

Comfy beds make all the difference to the camping experience at AutoCamp Cape Cod.
Comfy beds make all the difference to the camping experience at AutoCamp Cape Cod.

“We saw a huge uptick in demand and reservations following last year’s COVID reopening,” Miller says. “2020 was record-breaking in terms of revenue, and we are on track to break records again this summer.”

Campsites ramp up glamping

AutoCamp isn’t the only glamping company expanding.

Bozeman, Montana-based Under Canvas has nine glamp tent sites, each near a national park or monuments, including new locations close to Maine's Acadia National Forest and Utah's Lake Powell and Grand Staircase.

One of the oldest glamping companies, French-founded Huttopia has four North American properties in addition to more than three dozen European ones: the latest, Huttopia Adirondacks, opened this spring, and a Southern California camp near the Angeles National Forest is due to open in August.

Under Canvas has nine glamp tent sites near national parks across the country including  Zion and Grand Canyon. One of its newest is close to Lake Powell and Grand Staircase.
Under Canvas has nine glamp tent sites near national parks across the country including Zion and Grand Canyon. One of its newest is close to Lake Powell and Grand Staircase.

Many traditional camp and RV sites add glamp tents and cabins, and small, family-run glamp sites proliferate on the nationwide camping platform Tentrr.

Though amenities and luxuries vary, the main attraction of glamping is sleeping in a real bed – and a very comfy one at that. For the casual camper who doesn't want to pack freeze-dried food, start a fire or cook on a camp stove, the main lodge will usually offer a shop and/or a cafe. Some have food trucks, and towns are never far away. Most glamp companies are dog-friendly and offer ADA-compliant accommodations.

There are no camp seats at Under Canvas – just actual, comfortable chairs.
There are no camp seats at Under Canvas – just actual, comfortable chairs.

What sets AutoCamp apart are the Airstreams, which cause a lot of visual buzz, especially en masse in a camp site. Besides design, there is an added benefit: Most glamp tent sites are seasonal, but Airstreams are bookable year-round.

AutoCamp, which offers luxury tents, cabins and add-on tents with two extra beds at some locations, calls its Airstreams “suites.”

Each is custom-designed Airstream and has a separate bedroom, sitting area and kitchenette and a bathroom with a large shower stall where a rain shower delivers piping hot water.

AutoCamp prefers to utilize local companies for food and beverages, and Cape Cod’s decidedly non-camping-like bathrooms are stocked with Vermont’s fabulous, sustainable Ursa Major toiletries in large refillable containers, adding boutique hotel-level cosseting.

AutoCamp Cape Cod’s custom-designed Airstreams have a separate bedroom, sitting area and kitchenette and bathroom.
AutoCamp Cape Cod’s custom-designed Airstreams have a separate bedroom, sitting area and kitchenette and bathroom.

“The intention is to give a sense of luxury,” Miller says. “We have beautiful marble walk-in showers and Tempur-Pedic mattresses. But they’re still inspired by the spirit of vintage Airstreams.”

Each includes TV, A/C, heat, fridges and microwaves. Like all AutoCamp camps, each has a fire pit and outdoor seating.

AutoCamp Cape Cod’s Clubhouse lounge looks like that of a posh hotel – plush couches on rugs on polished concrete flooring. Sliding floor-to-ceiling windows open onto a patio and lawn and views over mature woodland to the marsh and Buzzard’s Bay.

The shop is stocked with everything from s’mores kits to all-natural sunscreen. For serious supplies, you'll need to pack them in yourself.

Because it’s still camping – glam or not.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Glamping: AutoCamp, Under Canvas, Huttopia expand in US

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting