Luxury camping—what some might call “glamping”—has been a thing for a while now. This year a crop of new canvas lodgings is opening, far beyond the African savannahs where luxe safari tents got their start. Now they’re sprouting up in the rain forests of Asia and deep in the heart of Texas, with amenities that set the bar higher and higher. Here are some of our favorites.
Set to open this summer, Capella Ubud is set among rain forest, rice paddies, and the sacred Wos River. Celebrated hotel designer Bill Bensley created the 22 tents with inspiration from Bali’s colonial 19th-century European settlers. Each tent has its own plunge pool, and they share a tented gym, library, spa, and dining spaces. No trees were cut during construction, ensuring maximum privacy.
Bensley is having a busy year. Another of his upcoming projects, Shinta Mani Wild, will plant 15 custom-designed, elevated tents with traditional Cambodian influences among three national parks in the remote, wild southwest of the country. The site is near an important elephant migration trail, and it’s meant to be the ultimate wildlife sanctuary, home to bears, macaques, gibbons, Indochinese tigers, and hornbills as well. The concept was engineered in collaboration with Flora and Fauna International, the Wildlife Alliance, the Royal Phnom Penh University (which will have a permanent research station there), and the Cambodian government to create a hospitality experience that is a utopia of sustainability—down to serving food grown and foraged on the surrounding land.
Opened in late 2017, this is the first year-round location from the pop-up luxury travel company Collective Retreats. It translates the ethos of the brand’s camps in Vail, Yellowstone, and the Hudson Valley to a 225-acre working ranch and organic farm less than an hour from Austin. Specifically, it’s located near Wimberley, a town known for its swimming holes, art galleries, and quaint restaurants. The 12 tents are tricked out with 1,500-thread-count Egyptian cotton linens, hand-dyed textiles, private decks, and French press coffee bars. Plus, guests will be able to get massages right in their tents.
Just 10 minutes from the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Luang Prabang is Rosewood’s first foray into tents. It has six of them (along with traditional hotel rooms and villas), designed in Lao fashion with sumptuous silks and French colonial influences. The location is spectacular—a pristine forest next to a river and waterfall—and Rosewood has partnered with the only non-riding elephant sanctuary in the county to offer animal encounters.
The safari company Asilia—whose name aptly means “authentic” in Swahili—brought high luxury to Ruaha National Park in the country’s wild, less-touristed south last year. The first proper safari lodge in the region, which is home to some of the largest populations of elephants and lions on the planet, Jabali Ridge has 10 stylish canvas-and-timber (but mostly mesh) accommodations connected by a series of elevated walkways with tremendous views over the baobab-studded valley below.
Cardamom Tented Camp
Reachable only by boat, this recently opened eco-resort in southern Cambodia’s Botum Sakor National Park is a prime base for kayaking, hiking, and tagging along with park rangers as they go about their day. The nine tents are on the simple side, but they’re plenty comfortable, with twin or queen beds, top-quality bedding, ample fans, shaded terraces, and private bathrooms with rain showers and hot water on demand.
Blink by Black Tomato
Blink and you’ll miss it. That’s the premise of luxury tour operator Black Tomato’s new endeavor, which takes a page from pop-up restaurants to give clients the ultimate bragging rights—a vacation in a remote location that is theirs and theirs alone. Based on guests’ wishes, the company designs, builds, staffs, and then disassembles luxurious camps. These might involve safari-style tents, transparent bubbles, tepees, or yurts anywhere in the world, from the Bolivian salt flats to the shores of Myanmar’s Inle Lake to the Empty Quarter of Oman.