There’s camping, and then there’s luxury camping, and then there’s ridiculous luxury camping

Back in 2002, I read an article about luxury camping in the Wall Street Journal, and it struck me as kind of missing the point of camping.

For campers too busy to shop for marshmallows, one place stocks a s'mores kit -- skewers included -- in its gourmet general store. Another provides blow dryers, putting an end to "river hair."

When Karen Schaupeter and her husband arrived at El Capitan Canyon in Santa Barbara, Calif., they were chauffeured to their campsite in a golf cart. Dinner was tamales with mango salsa prepared by the staff, in front of a roaring bonfire -- also prepared by the staff. In the morning, Ms. Schaupeter ordered a latte at El Capitan's store. "I thought I was being snooty," says the Oakland photo stylist. "But people were coming in saying, 'a double no-foam mocha, please.' "

A tent site at the Chattooga River Resort, for example, is just $18 a night. Beverages are extra (1955 Chateau Latour: $1,100), as are rented DVDs for your laptop. Tack on a "room-service" steak dinner for four and it'll run you $75. Plus, because you are camping, you'll still have to cook the steaks. In Northern California, a barebones pitch-your-own-tent site is $30 at Costanoa, but if you want a maid to fluff the down comforter, you've got to spring for at least a canvas cabin at $130 a night.

Now all this sounded pretty extravagant at the time, I mean, $350 a night for camping? Room service? But at least you have to cook the steak yourself, that's something at least.

Apparently, in the years since the article was written, things had gotten even worse: Now you don't even have to cook your own steak.

"We don't pitch tents. We don't cook outdoors. We don't share a bathroom. It's just not going to happen. This is a kid who has never flown anything but first class or stayed anywhere other than a Four Seasons."

The Bondicks, who live near Boston and have a personal chef, shelled out $595 a night, plus an additional $110 per person per day for food.

It's a hefty price to sleep in a tent, but the perks include a camp butler to build the fire, a maid to crank up the heated down comforter and a cook to whip up bison rib-eye for dinner and French toast topped with huckleberries for breakfast.

(Put that job title on your résum&eacute: Camp Butler.)

The end of the article describes some of the "luxury nature" events you can sign up for, like being driven to the start of a scenic section of a hike and picked up at the other side, so you don't have to "hoof it past the same view twice."

What a horrific ordeal it must be to experience nature twice.

Comments (6)
  1. When Ethan Bondick, 6, told his mom and dad he wanted to go fly-fishing in Montana

    I can’t wait until he wants to join the Marines.

  2. tsrblke says:

    And to think, I thought my nice backpacking tent, mummy bag and backpack was extravagent.  While there are nights I just don’t want to cook (and I confess, I own a camp stove, because you can’t have Bar-B-Que all night for a week, and cleaning cookware used on wood is a pain.) I can’t imagine going camping and eating at an onsite resturant every night.

  3. Bob says:

    All jaw-dropping except for the last bit about being driven to the first portion of a hike & from the last portion…it sounds like an Appalachian Trail through-hike to me.

  4. Gabe says:

    And I thought camping at a place with an outhouse was luxurious!

  5. Duke of New York says:

    "it sounds like an Appalachian Trail through-hike to me."

    … except the Appalachian Trail goes between cities, and these hikes are maybe 5 miles long.

  6. Jeff Walden says:

    Well, he’s right about driving to and from the termini of the A.T.  Springer Mountain’s 75 miles or so from Atlanta (probably the most likely starting or ending point for travel to/from Springer), and there’s also about an hour drive from the nearest parking lot to Springer just to get to paved roads; Katahdin is six miles from the entrance to the state park where it resides plus a further 28 or so miles to Millinocket, the nearest town.  The problem of "getting somewhere" while on the trail, other than further down it, is pretty much non-existent outside of starting and ending travel; hitchhiking or a little extra walking suffice to get most places off-trail that one would have much need to visit.

    It’s too bad the kid’s not a few years older or so, else I’d suggest Boy Scouts instead, which would be far better in any number of ways.  At that age Cub Scouts is the other option, but truth be told you do much less camping as a Cub Scout than as a Boy Scout (or at least that’s how it was for me) due to the younger age.  Still, Cub Scouts wouldn’t be a bad thing either for him even if it didn’t mean too much camping.  Another, less time-consuming option would be to just find some nearby hiking trails with good views and go for some walks; hopefully these people can stomach a modicum of physical exertion.

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