Camping in Comfort
Many Mainers love camping in the great outdoors because it is a timeless experience that brings one closest to the state’s most compelling natural wonders. But the idea of roughing it in a typical tent with an air mattress and sleeping bag isn’t for everyone.
For those who yearn for some meaningful time in nature but who like their creature comforts, too, glamping (the term for “glamorous camping”) at Sandy Pines Campground in Cape Porpoise is a great option. With glamping, campers can have it all: comfortable beds in beautifully decorated “Safari”-style tents, convenient amenities, plenty of space and fresh air to relax in, and a sense of the great outdoors near at hand.
Brenda Darroch, director of marketing for Sandy Pines Camping, said their 15 glamping tents open on Memorial Day Weekend. (This date is a few weeks after Sandy Pines opens for its regular 2021 summer season of campground offerings, which occurs on Mother’s Day weekend.)
“We currently have 15 glamp tents, and we are adding three more this season—two couples glamp tents and one family glamp tent,” Brenda explained.
“The designers really thought about how people would use these tents as living spaces, so they separated the living area from the dining area and the sleeping area,” Brenda said. The result is that glampers enjoy “a very luxurious living space that is close to nature. You never lose that connection to nature,” she said.
The glamping concept has actually been around for centuries and was something that has been regularly practiced since the Middle Ages in Europe, the Middle East, and Asia where rich merchants, nobles, or members of royal households sought to recreate their comfortable chambers during long journeys.
Glamping really took off in the United States when it was celebrated and promoted by Oprah Winfrey more than a decade ago and then popularized.
The Sandy Pines Glamping experience was the brainchild of Kennebunkport entrepreneur Tim Harrington and his business partner Deborah Lennon. When Sandy Pines Camping unveiled its glamping tents in May 2018, the Cape Porpoise resort became the first in Maine to bring the concept here. Kennebunkport is just a few miles from the resort to the south and Goose Rocks Beach is just a few miles to the north.
The facility takes pride in providing a truly glamorous camping experience. Guests can enjoy a campfire and make meals, bringing their own food. but then at night they can retreat to a luxury space with a beautiful bed and furnishings. The tents also have small heaters, air conditioning, and mini-refrigerators. Guests do not have to bring any bedding or towels. “While none of our tents have bathrooms inside, our private bathhouses are nearby and have showers, sinks, and toilets that are always sparkling clean,” Brenda added. “We have separated the family camping areas from the couples’ camping areas,” Brenda said. “We have guests who come back every year.”
If people decide to give Sandy Pines a try this summer, note that availability is limited and that the resort does two- to four-night minimum reservations. They are open until Columbus Day in October. Prices range $409 per night for a weekend and $334 for midweek for Family Glamp Tent in July and August. Bookings for the glamping tents remain strong, Brenda said, as they were last summer when Mainers sought safe, outdoor recreational activities and getaways.
While 2020 proved to be a challenging year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Brenda said Sandy Pines Resort went to great lengths to provide its guests with a safe and enjoyable experience. When they were allowed to welcome their guests last spring, Brenda said they were ready.
“Mainers in particular really embraced the staycation concept, and the chance to explore our beautiful state,” Brenda said.
“All of our confirmation correspondence focused on explaining the rules,” Brenda recalled. “People were ready. They went through lockdown, and by the time summer got rolling, they were looking for different experiences to enjoy outside.”
Sandy Pines’ outdoor pool was open by reservation where people could book an hour or two last summer because of COVID-19. Brenda said they will continue to follow state guidelines this year to keep their guests safe.
Brenda said Sandy Pines understands the Safari-style tents are not a fit for everyone, and the resort offers other experiences as well.
“The glamp tents have always been very popular, but as we have gone through the seasons, we have learned that different campers want different things.”
In additional to the glamping tents, Sandy Pines offers vacationers wooden A-frame huts, cottages, as well as unique experiences like two western-style covered wagons, camper vans, and two Airstreams for couples.
“We have repeat guests who like to try out different glamp tents each summer or try a camp cottage or unique retreat like the covered wagons, Airstream campers, or the VW bus,” she said.
Brenda said the bottom line is this: “It’s going to be your camping experience—elevated.”
For more information about Sandy Pines Camping, please visit: www.sandypinescamping.com. Note that Maine also has other glamping experiences, such as Under Canvass, which offers African safari-like tents near Acadia National Park on Mount Desert Island, and the wooden cabins of Huttopia, located on Sandy Pond in nearby Sanford.