Family Glamping Anyone? Adirondacks Camp Orenda Debuts

by  Paul Eisenberg | Jan 31, 2012
Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe
Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe / Photo courtesy of the property

Were you to plot family camping on a spectrum, on one end there would be traditional camping, with cookware, pitched tents, sleeping bags, and the hard, cold ground. Way over on the other end of the spectrum would be The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe’s Indoor Campout Package, where for a hundred bucks per child, hotel staffers will pitch a 3’ x 5’ tent – equipped with a feather bed and Ritz-Carlton linens, of course – inside your room.

Between these two extremes is glamorous camping, or glamping, which has become such a broad lodging category that the only way to define it is to say what it’s not, which is that it's neither traditional camping nor "roughing it" at the Ritz-Carlton. As levels of luxury do vary widely from one “glampsite” to the next, your first consideration should be how much you truly want the experience to feel like actual camping. If, say, you’re looking for the semblance of real camping with some key amenities covered – rustic glamping, if you will – consider Camp Orenda, in upstate New York’s Adirondack Mountains, which bills itself as an all-inclusive backcountry retreat

In Orenda’s case, pampering takes the form of a canvas cabin (there are three total on the property) that accommodate either two full beds or a queen. Pillows, linens, and towels are provided, as is the welcomed touch of a wood-burning stove. Cooking is another plus. Meals, all cooked over an open flame, are included, from bacon and eggs to burgers to such glamping-worthy mains as center-cut pork chops infused with rosemary.

The bathroom situation is a bit more rustic. There are no en-suite bathrooms, but there are private portable toilets on-site. There’s also an outdoor shower with heated water, and cleansing swims in a nearby lake are encouraged, with biodegradable soap provided.

While at first glance this setup may seem more conducive to a grown-up retreat, there’s a real effort here to harness the surroundings and make them family-friendly. Canoeing and kayaking, as well as fishing and supervised hiking are all included, as are such kid-specific activities as arts and crafts, basic camping instruction, and geo-caching, a hide-and-seek game where treasure is hunted with GPS devices. For kids old enough to handle white-water rafting and rock climbing, those activities are available off-site for an extra fee.

Should your family include pets, they are welcome here as long as they are “well-behaved and under control,” a policy that probably also extends to children, though the property has the grace not to spell that out.

Peruse glampsite directories, such as Glamping Hub and Go Glamping, to get a feel of the other kinds of glamping experiences out there. And if you’ve glamped someplace particularly fun with your family, by all means leave me a comment about it.

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