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 Sandy, who manages this five-story tree house in Johnson, Vermont.
1. What is the story behind you starting your glamping site?
When we bought our property in the 90s, the adjoining property had this crazy, five-story, pretty funky house on it—owned by a guy from New York City who’d come up on occasional weekends. I always loved the place and was itching to get my hands on it!
A few years ago, we had the chance to buy the property and have been working on it ever since, making it a fun, cozy, and truly unique experience for outdoorsy folks to enjoy.
Ok, that’s not really true. What’s true is that I had been bugging my husband about buying that place for years, so when we did buy it, he said, “Ok, now DO something with it!” So, I’ve been knocking my brains out making it a spectacular place!
2. What did you do before becoming a glamping host, and what drew you to glamping?
We have owned residential apartments for many years, so the concept of renting a place out wasn’t all that foreign to me. I didn’t want this to be just a vacation rental, though; I wanted it to be an exceptional experience.
3. In your opinion, how does your accommodation fit the definition of glamping?
Well, it’s doubtful you will see another place like it! Nestled in the woods, the tree house is five stories on the edge of a 60-foot cliff. It overlooks a lovely stream and has a feeling of privacy, relaxation, and being in the middle of nature.
4. What is the most special thing about your property?
That’s a hard one. Everyone loves the sparkling clean hot tub, of course, and many guests use the wood sauna so they can have the whole Finnish roll in the snow experience! One of my favorite parts is that I’ve developed an extensive trail system over the years, accessible right from the tree house's driveway—perfect for hiking, snowshoeing, or backcountry skiing.
5. What do you love the most about running a glamping site? What are some of the challenges you face?
I try to go over and above with all of my guests! If they are getting in late, I will often leave them breakfast items for the next morning, including fresh eggs (when my hens cooperate), so they don’t have to worry about getting groceries right off the bat.
Over Thanksgiving, I left my roasting pan, thermometer, etc., so they could cook a turkey. Over Christmas, I make sure the place is Christmasy as all get out. I try to provide everything I can for a memorable vacation. The Christmas tree is there year-round, and I’ve decorated it for several 40th birthday parties and Valentine’s Day surprises! I love helping to make that happen.
Most of the winter, guests are coming to alpine ski at Smuggler’s or Stowe and want information on the best place to get rental equipment or go out to eat.
Frankly, the biggest challenge is making sure the tree house is a perfect fit for guests, so I appreciate good communication back and forth. I’ve had people with little kids want to rent the place, for example, and with the location and layout of the house, it’s just not a good fit. Same with people who want to bring their pets, and I feel bad when I have to say “no."
6. Tell us about your most memorable guest experience to date.
Several months ago, a man told me he wanted to book the place for he and his wife, to rest and recharge. He wanted her to know how much he appreciated her and all she did, as well as get away from their young children. Before they arrived, he ordered five dozen long stemmed roses from our local florist and had me put a dozen on the dining room table, take the petals off the rest, and scatter them—from the front door, down the hallway, to the dining room. I must admit, the effect was spectacular! I met them the day after they had arrived, and his wife was so surprised and thrilled and said he was the best husband ever! It was adorable.
7. Which three words are most commonly used in guest feedback about your accommodation?
Magical, peaceful, and heavenly.
8. Tell us about the experience you provide for guests visiting your glamping site.
When guests arrive, I like to meet them to show them how the house "works"—the gas fireplace, hot tub, and the like. I want to make sure they are comfortable and let them know that I am accessible by text or phone if needed. Then I leave them alone to relax and have a good time!
9. If you could have anybody stay at your accommodation, who would it be and why?
That’s easy! Just by coincidence, I happened to be going on a tour in Spain a couple of months ago with one of my girlfriends and was able to meet up in Seville with Amy, a Partnerships Manager in the PR Department at Glamping Hub. It was fun to have a beer with this person I’d been emailing with over the past months! It would be so awesome to have her visit.
10. Are there any upcoming additions/changes to your glampsite you would like to share with us?
Well, that’s pretty constant, lol! I’d like to create more trails and put a bridge of some sort over one of the streams.
We closed the house for renovations last spring for a while, in order to put new siding and windows on the back side (cliffside) of the house, which was no small task with those five stories! This spring, we plan on tackling another side to do the same thing.
When you have a guest home that you want to keep top notch, there is always plenty to do!