In the previous section we talked about the importance of experiences overall – focussing on those that stimulated a range of our senses. Of course, some of the best experiences lie in the great outdoors and it would appear that our interest in mother nature keeps growing. There’s no question that more ‘senior’ leisure travellers like the outdoors – indeed a recent survey found that engaging with nature is the most popular vacation for US seniors. Of course with some of our younger travellers, trying to prise them away from technology can be a challenge. In the US, some brands are stepping up to encourage families to get outdoors. One example is Cabela’s (a retailer of outdoor products) who have a campaign urging Americans to unplug from technology for ‘Disconnect Day’ which is a day ofyour choosing where you disconnect and switch off all electronic devices to spend the day outdoors with your family.
Should you choose to spend this Disconnect Day (or week) camping, you’re in luck – a range of services have emerged making it easier than ever for us to commune with nature. Hipcamp is a campsite booking service which plans to become the most comprehensive camping guide in the US. Not only can users find a whole range of accommodations, the company also encourages rural landowners to make private scenic acreage available for rent. By allowing access to hitherto unavailable sites and providing valuable conservation income to the owners – it is a real win-win. Similarly the WikiCamps app which has versions available for Australia, New Zealand, the US, Canada and the UK provides information about various campsites and scenic stops as well as providing the community with the option of leaving honest reviews. And don’t worry if you are in a particularly remote part of the great outdoors, there is an offline version of the app.
For those of us who might be looking for something a little different when it comes to camping – let us introduce you to ‘champing’. (Yes – you heard it here first!). Champing has been introduced by the Churches Conservation Trust in the UK which allows travellers to stay in historic countryside churches. The purpose of the programme is to enable the charity to save 357 at-risk landmark churches. As for the travellers – well you won’t be slumming it too much – guests are served with breakfast using local ingredients, although the toilets are still basic camping toilets.
If the word basic just does not fit into your vocabulary then you are likely to be one of the 60% of the population who say that they would not mind paying more to glamp rather than staying in a basic tent. Before everyone goes off and invests in a glamping start-up, it is worth noting that out of those who say they would pay more, a small number actually do end up going glamping – apparently only 3% of consumers over the last 3 years in the UK. Let’s face it – some of us are just not built for camping however glamorous it is. However, we might make an exception for the Clayoquot Wilderness Resort on Vancouver Island. This is taking glamping to a whole new level and last year it cracked a top 10 list of the world’s most expensive hotels. Guests still stay in tents but these are tents decorated with antiques, king-size beds and remote controlled propane wood stoves. And did we mention the ensuite bathrooms? All of this comes at a mere US$3,681 (£2,392) per night – oh, and there is a 3-night minimum stay.
Of course, one of the attractions of going to the great outdoors is to experience something that we have never done before which is why we are starting to see more and more examples of ‘frontier tourism’. And top of that list is currently Antarctica. The tourist season runs from November to March and last year just under 40,000 people were estimated to have visited the coldest continent on Earth. Some visitors climb Mount Vinson, Antarctica’s highest point, others do extreme sport like scuba diving and some just want to take photos of the irresistibly cute penguins. Of course conservationists are watching this trend with growing concern with their worst fear being that Antarctica gets turned into some sort of outdoor ‘theme park’ – perish the thought.
For the next section of this trendsletter click here. Alternatively you can download your full PDF edition of TMI-Spy Hotels & Leisure Summer 2015 here or you can also email [email protected] to receive your copy straight into your inbox.