What is only five syllables but can be a lot of $$$?
Just those couple of days away can add up when you combine, accommodations, experiences, dining out, and travel. What if you could have a truly unique experience, make special, lasting memories with friends, AND do it all at an affordable price? Then, you must want to go glamping.
Glamping is just what it sounds like, glamorous camping. It’s all the fun of the outdoors… without the dirt (and when you were running around all week, that can be exactly what you need). I spent a weekend away glamping with Sarah Mendelsohn (of the wonderful blog, A Hit of Sarah) at Firelight Camps in Ithaca, NY. Our mission: get out of the city, enjoy nature, and have a little adventure. We decided the best way to accomplish this would be a road trip upstate. First we stopped at Bushkill Falls in Pennsylvania for a hike through the gorgeous scenery and over the waterfalls. From there we traveled to Ithaca and started the glamping adventure.
At Firelight, safari tents are set-up atop wooden platforms and outfitted with all the comforts of home. Each tent boasts a porch, king or queen sized bed, a desk, futon, lanterns, blankets and more. There's no squatting to go to the bathroom here; a spa bathhouse near the tents is equipped with showers, a sauna, and a lounge area for charging devices or hanging out. The lobby and lounge tent is a great communal space for partaking in their delicious continental breakfast, getting warm by the campfire, or enjoying a glass of wine with your fellow glampers. You might even want to take this lounging time to upload a photo or two to Instagram as the campfire area offers wifi.
But the real joy of glamping at Firelight is getting the chance to unplug and unwind. The camp is situated on the ground of La Tourelle Resort & Spa with open access to the steam room and sauna at August Moon Spa, in addition to reduced pricing on their services. Recommendation: de-stress with a Swedish massage and a cup of green tea in one of their tranquillity rooms, Sarah and I left the spa feeling totally rejuvenated.
Leave your tent in the morning and after your organic breakfast (homemade granola like you've never had) and morning coffee, set out on one of the hiking trails beginning right on the property to waterfalls, creeks and lakes; through gorges, meadows, and beautiful forests. Sounds like a fantasy, right? It kind of is and dreamiest part is that it’s totally affordable for a weekend trip with friends. A tent starts at $155 a night, and the larger tents can fit four comfortably with two in the king-sized bed and two are the roomy futon. With free breakfast, a fun, and affordable downtown area with excellent restaurants, and then the best free thing available on earth, NATURE, costs split between four people is a steal. Bus fare can be about $90 but if you can drive instead, having your crew pitch in to fill your tank and the drive there and back will cost everyone a quarter of that.
Tip. Be sure to bring the following items:
1. Bug spray.
Firelight sells organic bug spray so this is just in case you’ll be doing any outdoor activities before arriving (like we did).
All the paths to the tents are lit at night but it’s still dark so bring one just in case for easy late-night strolls.
It gets cold upstate. All tents are outfitted with heaters and plenty of blankets for warm, cozy sleeping, but we found ourselves fully taking advantage of the layers we packed for the weekend.
4. External battery.
I admit it, I’m addicted to my phone and I wanted to make sure I would have battery even if I wasn’t in the lounge area and able to charge. I fully charged this before the weekend and juiced up my phone Saturday night.
5. Snack bars.
When you’re hiking, snack bars are the easiest things to chow down while on the move.
6. Wet naps.
Because these are always necessary and if you don’t want to walk up to the bathroom to clean your hands in the sink, this is such an easy and simple solution.
Founded by Robert Frisch, who began his entrepreneurial endeavors with a boutique hostel and restaurant in Nicaragua and went on to receive his MBA from the Johnson School at Cornell, Firelight Camps combines the beauty of the outdoors with the luxuries of a hotel stay. The food, from the delicious continental breakfast to the gourmet s'mores, is prepared and planned by Emma Frisch, finalist on Food Network Star Season 10, chef behind popular food blog Frisch Kitchen, and Robert's wife (can you say power couple?). Consulting with Walter and Joyce Wiggins, owners of La Tourelle, and partner Kyle Reardon, no aspect of superior hospitality and guest services was overlooked.
Firelight Camps' first season may be coming to a close (they'll be open through November 2nd) but with a May 2015 re-opening date already set, we can't wait to book our next visit to the glampgrounds.
Photography by Gloria Cavallaro.