Los Angeles singles – experience the great outdoors in style, just a six hour drive away, with this new style of camping called “glamping.”
As an Alaskan girl, I know a little something about camping and the outdoors. My memories of stiff, itchy raingear, temperamental tents, soggy culinary offerings and a bevy of mosquito bites in places I don’t even want to think about are all too vivid. While the serenity of nature and breathtaking beauty of “The Last Frontier” were tantalizing, the other aspects … not so much. At the ripe old age of twelve, I retired from camping forever.
Fast forward to my life in L.A. where I found my strict “no camping” policy fairly easy to uphold until I was invited to Calistoga Ranch in the Napa Valley which was described to me as an “oasis in the woods.” Oh oh …
My friend Karen assured me, “Honestly, it’s more like glamping.”
Glamping? I had heard of this “glamorous-camping” but curious, I sourced the World English Dictionary definition: “A form of camping in which participants enjoy physical comforts associated with more luxurious types of holiday.” Luxury? Yes, please.
A friendly valet greeted me with a smile in the circular driveway at Calistoga Ranch and promptly whisked away my Toyota Corolla rental car that was clearly cramping the style of the Aston Martin, Porsches and Mercedes lining the front spots.
I took a minute to take in my surrounding. Under the bright blue sky a deep green vineyard proffering bright purple grapes hanging plump on the vines, regiments of powerful towering evergreens and lush rolling hills framing a hauntingly mystical lake. I was definitely off the beaten track, and as I accepted a glass of Calistoga Ranch’s own delicious Chardonnay upon check-in, I thought this could be a very different brush with nature indeed.
As one of the attendants drove me via golf cart to my lodge (no cars allowed beyond the driveway), I noticed the atmosphere here was decidedly relaxing. As we passed through the extensive property, he pointed out yoga decks strategically placed on hills to yield spectacular views, the bikes with water and fruit waiting to provide leisurely rides down the Silverado Trail, and hiking paths meandering through the hills. To my sheer delight, I discovered the award-winning Bathhouse spa was just a few paces from my abode – what luck!
Upon arrival at my lodge, which blends beautifully into the surrounding natural landscape, I found my luggage waiting for me – no backpacking required! The lodge architects have seamlessly merged the camping concept of outdoor living with indoor comforts. I walked onto a spacious open-air deck surrounded by lush vegetation which bridged two separate living spaces. On one side was a living room with plump couches, a massive flat screen TV, kitchen with complimentary mini-bar, a half-bath (apparently in case I had any visitors stop by or was too lazy to walk to the full bathroom) and a fireplace.
The living area’s massive French doors opened to the deck, which also sports a fireplace, cushy chaises and my own personal hot tub. The other living space also opened up to the deck and featured a plump white bed that promised a dreamy night’s sleep, and then, the walkway to the bathroom, which could nearly accommodate my entire apartment in Los Angeles.
The bathroom offered a walk-in closet, rich wood trappings and enormous jet tub with a shower encased in smooth granite and multi-colored stones. The right and left sides mirrored each other with a full granite counter, ultra-luxe toiletries and private sink — no need to share if you’re staying a deux — each person has his or her own side.
But the pièce de résistance was what was waiting outside — doors on the opposite side of the room opened out to yet another full wooden open air deck where, surrounded by thick trees and with the sky as the ceiling, was an even more spectacular shower also encased in the beautiful stones. My first reaction was to look around and think — “I can’t shower out here for the world to see!” But it proved too tempting and I felt fairly confident that with the exception of a few squirrels, showering outdoors was a private luxury I could really get used to.
Following my scenic shower, I cuddled up in a plush bathrobe and slippers on one of the chaises for a brief rest in front of my outdoor fireplace before dressing for the multi-course gourmet dinner at the Lakehouse that evening. What, no soggy hot dogs? I peered up at the colossal evergreens canopying the deck overhead, felt the soft breezes, smelled the delicate aromas of freshly growing eucalyptus and lavender and wondered how I ever could have sworn off the sweet serenity of nature when I heard, almost as if on cue, the faint magical notes of a wood flute? Yes, indeed — it was the Calistoga Ranch calling that their exclusive Friday night wine tasting hosted by Napa Valley’s top vintners was about to begin. What could a girl do but adhere to the old adage — when in Napa!
The days passed much too quickly and when it was time to meet up with my Corolla rental again, I won’t deny the thought of leaving behind the delights of the outdoors for the big city was not particularly appealing. Nevertheless, I have rekindled my friendship with Mother Nature and while you won’t see me pitching a tent anytime soon, you can be sure in the very near future my Facebook status will read: Gone Glamping!
Copyright © Adryn Miller Sumner/2013 Singular Communications, LLC.