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Top places to go ‘glamping’ – just 3 hours or less from Toronto

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Glamping: glamourous camping, and a way for people to enjoy the great outdoors combined with a comfortable ‘glam’ stay in a prospector’s style tent, yurt, teepee, or even a treehouse! This is far from roughing up! There is no packing and unpacking your tent or pitching a tent in the dark with a flashlight as you battle the bugs. Going the glamping route means that almost everything is set up, awaiting your arrival.

Glamping has become popular in countries like Africa (think safaris), Thailand, Europe, and the U.S., and is now the latest ‘getaway’ option taking Ontario by storm.

While many glamping sites in Ontario are open from May to October, all require reservations and are bound to sell out quickly. Be sure to check current COVID-19 safety guidelines and check with your Glamping site for any updates.

Here are a few suggestions of great glamping spots in Ontario.

Alabaster Farm, Caledon Village—Glamping in a Working Farm Setting

“Our Glamping experience offers the best of both worlds–you get that real outdoors experience combined with all the creature comforts of home in a luxury tent nestled in the forest,” says Aimee Alabaster, Owner of Alabaster Farm and Glamping in Caledon Village. “These are like fully furnished hotel rooms in a prospector-style tent in a tranquil woodland setting, on a working farm.”

Alabaster Farm has three 16 x 20’ prospector-style tents with fully screened side windows, front and back walls. The tents sit on a 16 x 30’ deck which provides an 8’ covered front porch with a posh dining set up for four. Along with a luxuriously comfy king-size bed, there’s a bar fridge for your wine or food, a wood stove with firewood, cast iron pots and pans. dishes and cutlery, a Bluetooth speaker in the tent for your tunes, a BBQ on the deck, and even a hammock.

As night falls, the twinkle lights shine, and the fire pit and Muskoka chairs beckon guests around the campfire.

Rise and shine. Aimee and her team deliver a surprise to each tent—a tray loaded with fresh baked goods, fruit, and coffee!

“Guests just need to bring their own food, beverages and personal gear,” says Aimee.” Everything is set up and waiting for you and we are just a 90-minute drive from the GTA.”

Glamping guests can do an “animal meet and greet” on the farm or go for a drive and visit a local brewery or cider house.

“This is my home and my dream, and I try to make each visit as personalized and memorable as possible,” adds Aimee. “We are already sold out for the summer season, but two of our tents are open year-round for a winter glamping experience (with a wood stove provided).

18692 Hurontario Street Caledon Village, Text, or Call: 1-519-217-1117, alabasteracres.com

Bartlett Lodge in Algonquin Park

If you have dreamed of exploring Algonquin Park, but do not own a tent or camper, glamping is the way to go. Bartlett Lodge on Lake Cache in Algonquin Park offers all the amenities of home within two rustic-chic prospector style tent which sleep two adults.

Bartlett Lodge is a historic inn which dates to 1917. Originally owned by the Bartlett family, proprietors Kim and Marilyn Smith have owned the resort since 1997. The inn also has cabins and an artist studio/gathering room with additional guest rooms.

The “Guide’s Tents”, as they are called, are part cabin, part tent—like a cabin with a canvas fabric roof and walls. Each tent is fully furnished with a king-size bed, inside seating area and outdoor deck. Battery operated lamps provide soft lighting. Towel and bedding service is provided. A new private washroom building with showers is just steps away. Guests just need to bring their clothes, some sunscreen and perhaps some bug spray. Even the meals are included!

“This is camping in luxury,” says David Fortune, General Manager. “We are the only resort in Algonquin Park to offer a glamping experience. Our tent experience is extremely popular with European travelers who want that bucket list experience of “camping in Algonquin Park” without having to pack all the gear. Guests can swim in the lake or use our kayaks or canoes, enjoy the hiking trail on the property. Guests are also provided with a Park Pass.”

And yet another perk—glamping guests get to enjoy three meals a day in the dining room of the main lodge as part of their package. “The dining room is located in the historic 1917 inn,” adds David who was the Executive Chef at the resort for four years. “We are renowned for our food and many great chefs have come through our doors. We serve a four-course dinner with three to five options per course.” Sounds like another perfect day in paradise!

Algonquin Park, 705-633-5543 email info@bartlettlodge.com, bartlettelodge.com

Fronterra Farm and Camp in Prince Edward County

Fronterra Farm offers an “Inspiring, Enchanting and Authentic” farm and glamping experience in Prince Edward County near Wellington.

The Camp itself is “romantic, charming and spellbinding”, as described by owners Jens and Inge Burgen. The camp has 10 authentic log-framed canvas prospector tents offering the right mix of rustic luxury. Each tent features a king-sized bed, indoor sitting lounge, hardwood floors, ensuite bathroom and shower. The private summer kitchen is stocked with cast iron cookware, a charcoal grill, icebox, table wear complete with wine and beer glasses. Guests bring their own food, but are welcome to pick some fresh vegetables from the farm garden to enjoy.

“This is rustic elegance at its best,” says Jens. “You come here and can do everything from just relaxing and enjoying the camp and farm, to touring the five wineries that are close by or going to the beach. You are surrounded by the forest. The main thing that guests tell us is that they have had the best sleep of their lives!” exclaims Jens. “They think it’s the mattress, or the plump duvet, but it is about lying in a tent listening to the sounds of the forest canopy while you are surrounded by nature in all its glory. This is a big bucket list experience for many people. It’s evocative of a surreal experience.”

Fronterra Camp is a premium boutique camp offering plenty of privacy but easy access to a private dock with water access to the beaches of North Beach Provincial Park, just a five-minute paddle away.

Consecon, Prince Edward County, 1 (800) 427-1257, https://www.fronterra.ca/

Harmony Outdoor Inn and Glamping, Parry Sound

This is your chance to escape to a beautiful waterfront resort on Seguin River, nestled in a secluded 16-acre woodland setting in Parry Sound. There is a B & B on site with two suites in addition to six prospector-style white glamping tents.

The tents sit high on a wooden platform and are fully furnished. The Birches, Maples and White Pine tents each have two single beds, handcrafted with live edge slab lumber outfitted with high density CertiPUR foam mattresses, while the Birches, Hemlock and Ironwood prospect-style tents have a queen size bed. Accommodation includes high-speed internet, use of the indoor kitchen pavilion and hot cedar showers. All you need to bring is your own sleeping bag or bedding (a clean bottom sheet and pillow and case is provided), and your own food.

“We’ve had a tremendous response to our glamping tents since we started offering luxury camping options eight years ago,” says James Roberts who co-owns Harmony Outdoor Inn with his wife Dympna Hayes. “Glamping appeals to those who used to camp and no longer want to sleep on the ground and prefer a comfortable bed. It also appeals to those who want to try camping without having to purchase all the equipment. It definitely appeals to those wanting a luxurious stay combined with exploring the great outdoors.”

Days are filled with fun and adventure as guests can use the canoes, kayaks, and paddleboards at no charge. “We also offer optional programs for a fee such as a guided paddle excursion on Georgian Bay, a trail biking experience and morning yoga classes,” adds James.

If R&R is more your style, you can go for a swim, take a nap in a waterfront hammock, or read a book in one of the Muskoka chairs.

Meals are eaten in the screened pavilion and guests just need to bring their own food as dishes and cutlery is provided.

“It is our hope that people come and relax, unwind and explore our beautiful area,” says James. “When guests discover we have free internet they often book longer stays, as they realize they can work from here, from their tent or at a table in our pavilion or on our outdoor patio.” 905-399-1216, https://harmonyoutdoorinn.com/glamping/

Whispering Springs Wilderness Getaway, Grafton

This refined adult-only retreat provides visitors a chance to reconnect with nature in style as you choose from a Junior, Traditional or Deluxe Safari Tents. “Inspired by the great prospector tents of Canada’s past, our Safari Tents are artfully situated throughout the property to offer stunning views of our spring-fed ponds and beautiful wilderness,” state Nancy and John Corcoran, Owners of Whispering Springs Wilderness Getaway. It is a family owned and operated resort—the couple’s son Chris and their daughter Jenna and son-in-law Dave all work at Whispering Springs.

Nancy served as the innkeeper at the renowned Ste. Anne’s Spa in Grafton for many years. She and John lived in the Bahamas and ran charter getaways on their 50-foot sailboat.

“We love hospitality and use our expertise to provide everything we love about an upscale guest experience for our guests,” says Nancy. “This is like a boutique hotel experience—it is refined Canadiana camping at its best. The prospector glamping tents have king-size beds in most tents with plush duvets, cozy robes, beautiful linens, Keurig coffee machines and their own washroom with a soaker tub. The bohemian-style Bell tents have comfy queen-size beds and all the trimmings, with washrooms located close by. There are 23 glamping tents on the 200-acre property as well as cabins which sleep up to 8 people.”

Guests can choose to bring their own food, or they can order the Breakfast Basket to be delivered to their tent, filled with fresh croissants, homemade granola, juice and more. “For lunch, guests can order fresh made pizza which is made locally and baked in a pizza oven. Our dinner basket is a huge hit and includes steaks, pre-baked potatoes, premade salads and more. All guests have to do is throw the steaks on the BBQ.” A few times a season the Corcoran family offers a mid-week, all-inclusive package which includes two nights of catered meals, yoga, live music by the campfire and more.

The retreat also offers weddings in their fairy tale like chapel in the pine forest.

Whispering Springs opens May 20 and is open until October 16 (there are heaters and electric blankets in the tents). Other amenities include a saltwater pool, hot tub, forest trails and you can book a la carte spa treatments. This unique glamping experience awaits, just a 90-minute drive east of Toronto.

141 Mercer Lane, Grafton, 905-349-1009, whisperingsprings.ca

Tipi Adventures, Muskoka (Bracebridge)

Yes, you can spend the night in a real tipi in beautiful Muskoka, thanks to Tipi Adventures. Owners Elke and Jochen Schlichte describe their Tipi Adventures on their website like this: “Can you dream? Imagine living in a tipi. Gazing at billions of stars, watching moose and deer, sitting around the campfire roasting marshmallows, hiking through the forest, and discovering new things. What an adventure!”

And it gets better—everything is provided for your Tipi Adventure—you just bring your sleeping bag, food, and clothes. The tents are beautifully decorated with original wall murals, hand painted by local artist Milada Tillingerova.

Guests can enjoy swimming, canoeing, kayaking, hiking on the 5K of trails, or enjoy a game of soccer or volleyball on the 80-acre property with a large fresh-water pond. You can row the boat on the pond or take a short drive to visit the nearby beaches in the area.

“Our mission is for people to reconnect with nature and to rest and relax (and play) in nature, far from the fast-paced world of everyday life,” says Elke.

Elke and Jochen moved to Muskoka in 2012 and found a local supplier for the large tipis. “Finding a local supplier was our sign that this was meant to be,” says Elke. “We re open from June to October (Thanksgiving) and then again after Christmas until March Break (pre-COVID). During the winter months guests can snowshoe, toboggan, skate or play hockey on the pond,” says Elke. “Each tipi has a heater to use in the cooler months. You can dream a little, relax a little and play a little as you renew mind, body, and spirit. on a unique and memorable Tipi Adventure.”

1345 Beatrice Townline Road, Bracebridge, (705) 706-7125, tipiadventure.ca

Watch here for more glamping destinations coming soon…

by Laurie Wallace-Lynch

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