Host Spotlight: Diane and Raul

By Jackie Dreyer

Editor's note: Each month, we'd like to introduce you to one of our wonderful Glamping Hub hosts and what inspired them to create a glamping site. This month, we have Diane and Raul and their stunning safari tent near Pismo Beach in Arroyo Grande, California.

1. What is the story behind you starting your glamping site?

We were invited to our niece's wedding in the San Juan Islands of Washington State. We went online to make hotel reservations and found that the site of her wedding offered many different accommodations, i.e. a lodge, cabins, tents, Airstream trailers, and...GLAMPING!

We had never heard of "glamping" before, but when I saw what they offered, we knew immediately that it was something we wanted to try. We own 10 acres full of oak trees—plus a beautiful tropical pool area behind our home. It didn't take too much discussion, and we decided to build a glamping site that was unique, totally private, and like a classy resort, with every amenity possible.

2. What did you do before becoming a glamping host? What drew you to glamping?

Raul is a federal contractor, who provides hospital housekeeping services to military medical treatment facilities (Army, Air Force, and Navy), and I enjoy trading stocks along with being Raul's executive assistant and "girl Friday." We were drawn to the glamping idea to help generate some additional income, since retirement is quickly approaching. We loved the thought of sharing our beautiful, resort-like property with others.

3. In your opinion, how does your accommodation fit the definition of glamping?

We own 10 picturesque, oak-filled acres of land, so nestled in the woods, we built a large, sturdy deck and erected a huge safari tent, or canvas cabin, on it. It is located 180 feet from the patio area, where you'll find the bathroom, a BBQ area, a Jacuzzi, a koi pond, and a tropical pool.

The tent itself is furnished with a rustic, woodsy theme and offers many comforts, such as beds with memory-foam mattresses, a couch, a table, and chairs, as well as a TV with a VCR and a selection of 40 movies. There is also a mini-fridge and a Keurig coffeemaker. Guests enjoy cold waters or their choice of Starbucks coffees, STASH teas, or various hot chocolates. This is luxury camping at its finest!

4. What is the most special thing about your property?

Not only do our guests enjoy the seclusion of a cozy "cabin in the woods," but we provide more private amenities than any expensive hotel or resort. Where can people go to find such luxurious surroundings and not have to share it with strangers? You don't have shared walls or have to share the exotic pool area, as you would at any hotel.

Everything is here for our guests' own personal use—their own private tropical resort that is surrounded by stunning landscaping; a bridge crossing over a koi pond filled with fish, rockery, and waterfalls; fire pits; and beautiful lighting. Once we give our guests the initial welcome and tour, we are scarce (unless they need something, or simply want to chat). We have put shades on all the windows and doors around the back of our house, so our guests have total privacy.

5. What do you love the most about running a glamping site? What are some of the challenges you face?

We love sharing our piece of paradise with others. Our glamping site has given us the opportunity to meet wonderful people from all over the world. We have had guests from Tibet, England, and Canada, as well as people from across America. People from all over California also come for staycations, since it's just a few hours away by car, and they arrive to a completely different world!

So far, we haven't had many challenges, and we feel blessed to have found this great opportunity to provide a service, as well as supplement our retirement. The only tough thing we face at times is the short turn-around time when we have back-to-back reservations. Since it's just the two of us, it's not always easy stripping beds, cleaning, laundering towels and linens, tidying up, and re-stocking in just three hours—especially when we have six guests who need three beds made up, instead of just one.

Carrying down and inflating the queen-size air mattress and hauling the additional memory-foam mattress to add to the sofa bed down the long path from the house to the safari tent is cumbersome. We haven't come up with an easier method yet, but who knows? Things are getting easier as times goes by. We are still pretty new to this, and practice makes perfect, right?

6. Tell us about your most memorable guest experience to date.

Wow, it's hard to pick just one! We had a wonderful family from England stay with us, and they were lovely; we ended up becoming very good friends and will be keeping in touch. There was a pre-bachelorette party of five gals, who absolutely fell in love with our place. They had a blast and are now walking advertisements for us—they are definitely planning to return.

We had a very sweet couple from San Francisco, who we wouldn't hesitate to adopt! Lastly, we had a very special Tibetan family, who upon their departure, honored us with a special gift for being their host: a gorgeous scarf/runner, made of white silk, for good luck. It made me cry!

7. Which three words are most commonly used in guest feedback about your accommodation?

Welcoming, comfortable, and amazing!

8. Tell us about the experience you provide for guests visiting your glamping site.

We provide the perfect place for our guests to relax, unplug, and enjoy nature. They get the best of both worlds:

  1. A comfortable camping experience, with memory-foam mattresses, in a spacious safari tent nestled in a countryside that is filled with oak trees, where you can fall asleep to the sound of owls, crickets, and frogs, and wake up to the birds' songs. You're surrounded by nature and wildlife and can enjoy sitting on the deck with a cup of coffee, watching wild turkeys and deer roam about the property. You can also go hiking on our nearby trail, which has stunning views of both the mountains and valley vineyards, in addition to breathtaking views of the ocean, from Avila Beach to the Guadalupe Dunes.

  2. The private use of our tropical pool area, Jacuzzi, and a large, modern, indoor bathroom with a shower and every amenity you could possibly need. You can spend your days lounging in the private pool area, with lush landscaping and waterfalls, or sitting on our little bridge over the covered pond, as you watch our beautiful koi and goldfish. There is a BBQ area, with plenty of patio tables, chairs, and loungers, as well as a gas fire pit to sit around while sipping on your favorite beverage.

There is literally something for everyone!

9. If you could have anybody stay at your accommodation, who would it be and why?

We would have to say my mom and Raul's dad. Sadly, they both have passed away, but they both loved our property—especially the exotic, tropical backyard, with the pool, lush plants, and waterfalls. They both would have been thrilled to see how we found a way to share our piece of paradise with others. (I also wouldn't mind a visit from Elvis; I was always his biggest fan!)

10. Are there any upcoming additions/changes to your glamping site you would like to share with us?

We have just ordered a two-burner electric combination kitchen—with a sink, counter space, cupboard space, and a compact refrigerator and freezer—for the covered patio area near the barbecue. Now, instead of just barbecuing, folks can actually cook, clean, and enjoy the use of an actual mini-kitchen. Plus, the additional refrigerator will accommodate more food and will be easier than using the provided ice chest and the mini-fridge down in the tent.

We also hope to pave the long path from the tent to the pool area, which will prevent everyone from tracking bark into the tent and bathroom and make everything much cleaner.


To book an unforgettable stay at Diane and Raul's safari tent in California, click here!