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 Pam, Randy, and Merrill—a father-mother-daughter team who manage four different glamping accommodations in Carbondale, Colorado. All questions have been answered by Pam.
1. What is the story behind you starting your glamping site?
We were originally corporate city kids from Chicago. Then, 20 years ago, several life changing events took place, and we realized that life is not a dress rehearsal, and we took hold of the opportunity to head west.
We were just going to come out for vacation, and then one day, my daughter Merrill and I were introduced to our ranch, and we felt as though our dream had come true. When we bought the ranch, it was a horse boarding facility, and over the years, we have acquired more animals, and we decided to change half of our stalls into studios for creatives and entrepreneurs.
Our daughter majored in sustainability and has always had a holistic vision for our ranch, where we can have not only horses but also heritage breeds of pigs, cows, and chickens, and then have folks coming to the ranch to learn and enjoy what we have been so blessed to have.
People have been glamping in Europe for many years, but it was new to the U.S. In the mountains of Colorado, there is a lot of camping, but I, of course, loved the more glamorous part of glamping. Honestly, there are so many people that want to be able to enjoy the benefits of being out with nature and animals and quiet, but don't have the time, knowledge, physical ability, or storage for the gear, so glamping is the perfect fit.
2. What did you do before becoming a glamping host? What drew you to glamping?
I was Vice President of Advertising for Family Circle Magazine, and Randy had worked with Drexel Burnham Lambert as an investment banker. I retired when Merrill was 5, and we came to Colorado 20 years ago from outside of Chicago. We have enjoyed having people come to the ranch to board horses over the years, and we actually had a yurt that we used just for our recreation. We came to the realization that, to be able to make the ranch sustainable for future generations, we had to diversify and seek out different sources of income; therefore, glamping is the perfect activity for us.
3. In your opinion, how does your accommodation fit the definition of glamping?
We have three safari tents, a bell tent, a yurt, and a cabin. These spaces are all tucked into over 100 acres of space on our ranch. The camping aspect offers our guests a direct connection with nature, complete solitude, and an amazing place to settle down and stargaze. We also have miles of trails for private picnics, campfires for s'mores, and barbecues for brats from the ranch.
The glamorous part of the camping comes in the form of real beds, fresh linens, and family heirlooms. We offer spaces that are all beautifully appointed with antiques, and each one has a different look and feel. When we were at the Global Glamping Summit, we found beautiful bathroom tents that have a hot shower and flushing toilet.
Our guests love to just chill and grill. but we are also just 20 minutes from fine dining establishments and a Whole Foods grocery store. Our guests wake up to fresh eggs, our heritage breed bacon, and French Press coffee every morning.
4. What is the most special thing about your property?
I think most or our guests are amazed at the views, as well as the peace and quiet, all while being so close to some of the most popular destinations in the world, including Aspen, Maroon Bells, and hot springs galore.
5. What do you love the most about running a glamping site? What are some of the challenges you face?
We just love meeting people from all over the world and learning from them, in addition to offering hints and tips to make their trip special. We have had a very long journey with land use changes and building code and water court issues.
6. Tell us about your most memorable guest experience to date.
One night, we were in our barn that we use as our lodge for guests; this is where everyone gathers after a big day of exploring to relax and get to know each other. That weekend, we had a writers' group and a couple from Saudi Arabia. The conversations went from what is going to be your next novel to what do neighborhoods look like in Saudi Arabia.
The other experience was when a couple wanted to have private nuptials up in the woods, so we put a blanket in the back of our four-wheeler, and the bride, the groom, and their dog all piled in for a ride. There are just so many experiences!
7. Which three words are most commonly used in guest feedback about your accommodation?
We have four...amazing, magical, sunsets, and stars!
8. Tell us about the experience you provide for guests visiting your glamping site.
We offer our guests the opportunity to unwind, re-group, and explore. The barn is a genuine spot where folks from all cultures and backgrounds can relax, share, and learn on a beautiful working ranch. We offer horseback riding, farm tours, alpaca yoga, fiber classes, board games in the barn, and lawn games. There are hiking trails throughout the property, too.
9. If you could have anybody stay at your accommodation, who would it be and why?
I would want to show Josh Groban glamping and listen to him sing over the campfire. Randy would want to have Rupert Murdoch, so he could pick his brain.
10. Are there any upcoming additions/changes to your glamping site you would like to share with us?
Yes, we just received the approval to open our site last August, and we had an 82% occupancy rate. We have just added a darling cabin that will be open through the winter, as we are so close to world-class skiing. We will also be adding another bell tent and safari tent, which will be tucked down in a draw and will have our alpacas wandering about. Imagine waking up and having an alpaca on your front deck!
This will give us six units all together. We will be opening up the yurt in March, and the rest of the units in April. We had so much success with our alpaca yoga that we will be adding to that next summer. We are going to promote glamping weddings, workshops, family reunions with an ancestry workshop, and wine-tasting weekends, where guests can learn more about the wine industry.