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 Tim and Helene and their romantic yurt near Yosemite National Park in Oakhurst, California.
1. What is the story behind you starting your glamping site?
Helene and I met on Cinco de Mayo in 2015. A local brew pub owner was having a party and invited me to join in the festivities. As the party was winding down and the sun nearing the horizon, I noticed Helene off by herself. Her son had invited her last minute, though I insist she crashed the party just to meet me! It was also rumored that the Mayweather vs. Pacquiao fight was going to be shown as a surprise, and Helene likes a good boxing match.
From that evening forward, we connected and did not look back. Helene had just landed a job managing a wine bar, which she loved. I had worked in L.A. making TV commercials for years, which allowed me to live five hours from the city when not working—a nice balance with nature.
A month into our relationship, Helene was diagnosed with cancer, and everything changed abruptly. When faced with life-threatening challenges, the importance of living each and every day to its fullest potential becomes vividly apparent. Sink or swim. Well, Helene beat the cancer, but she had lost her job in the process.
We decided that we wanted to control our destiny more than in the past. We realized that's not really possible, so we decided to say "steer our destiny in the right direction" instead! The idea to create a short-term rental came into play. With the help of a good friend, Thor, who is an architect, and Shelter Design Yurts, our dream took form. It took Helene and I a year to build it—a crew of two! Helene now has her own schedule. She also makes mine. So we said, Glamping Hub, here we come!
2. What did you do before becoming a glamping host? What drew you to glamping?
Helene has lived in our town for 46 years! She has been in the hospitality industry for the majority of that time. "From slinging burgers to pouring $400 bottles of wine, making people happy is what makes me happy," Helene says to me with a smile. It felt like a natural progression really…the only difference is there was no time card to punch!
I have made commercials in L.A. for over 20 years. I was fortunate to grow up here in Oakhurst! I needed to get out and see the world when I was younger, but it is always nice to come home. With our new opportunity here now, we are loving the freedom and the ability to meet people from all over the world!
3. In your opinion, how does your accommodation fit the definition of glamping?
Well, first and foremost, Yosemite National Park is in our back yard! There is really nothing that says camping, or glamping, more than our wonderful national parks. When we first began formulating ideas about our future, we asked ourselves a few questions. What can we do that is healthy, rewarding, and close to home? It had to be artistic, make us proud, and have little or no environmental impact if it we here on our property. It had to fit in and embrace nature seamlessly.
We knew we were going to be working with a budget, and we knew we were going in it alone. We were going to be the two-man crew that got it all done! We went about finding the location to build on, much like we do when finding a camping site. It has to be aesthetically pleasing! Morning sun is a must, with afternoon shade and a view of the sunset when toasting friends, new and old! We love our creation. We absolutely enjoy sharing it with our guests. The wildlife, deer, birds and fresh smells just put a final touch on the perfect theme.
4. What is the most special thing about your property?
To be terribly honest, if it weren't for Helene, it would not be the same. She really has a passion for this and aims to make everything wonderful for our guests. Having said that, we have four distinct seasons. Each has their unique place.
Spring is drenched in greens and new growth. Flowers abound. Life emerges with a quiet roar. Summer has endless blue skies, with sleepy warm afternoons. Ahh, dream of high mountain tops, meadows full of flowers, and breathtaking falls as the snow thaws.
Fall is when it all winds down, and colors glow bright orange, yellow, and red in the evening light. It's certainly a pleasing visual pallet desired by most nature lovers! And, finally, winter. A quiet time of year here...listen for the first drops of rain. Smell the fire, and feel its warmth in the early evening. Nothing like it! We love the fire pit and star-filled nights. S'mores, anyone?
5. What do you love the most about running a glamping site? What are some of the challenges you face?
We love meeting new interesting people. We get many couples that are adventuring out into the wilds of Yosemite and then returning to relax at the end of the day in our peaceful yurt. It's the best of both worlds! As far as the challenges, I'd say keeping our guests happy and making sure everything is as good as we can make it for them. Bru, our yellow lab puppy who is turning into a mischievous dog, loves playing with our guests. The biggest challenge is to get your shoe back!
6. Tell us about your most memorable guest experience to date.
The wedding proposals are awesome and unexpected. One time, a gentleman from Singapore asked me if I would take photos hidden out of sight while he proposed! So I hid behind a tree and watched a life together unfold as he went down on one knee. I was so nervous! She said yes, and the rest is history.
Another couple stayed in our yurt and forwarded photos of their two hands together facing the ceiling of the yurt with a pretty engagement ring on—super fun! It has been a great celebration place for many birthdays, honeymoons and anniversaries, too. We are so happy and proud of that!
7. Which three words are most commonly used in guest feedback about your accommodation?
Magical, romantic, and peaceful.
8. Tell us about the experience you provide for guests visiting your glamping site.
We have had such a wonderful experience with all of our Glamping Hub guests. I think that people drawn to nature are the people we want to attract. We have had only the best things to say about our guests from all over the world. We are proud to be a part of the Glamping Hub family. Another good barometer is the awesome reviews our guest have given us!
Chetan, a guest we had from the U.K. last year, said, "Helene and Timothy have created an amazing, beautiful and blissfully peaceful space from which to explore Yosemite and surrounding areas. We loved the original art on the walls, the incredibly comfortable bed (best of our whole trip) and the little kitchenette. Thanks you so much, we'll be recommending your place to everyone!"
9. If you could have anybody stay at your accommodation, who would it be and why?
If only Anthony Bourdain, David Bowie, and my sister, Constance, were still with us! What a party that would be. Helene says we need some music, so B.B. King and John Lee Hooker! I bet the sound would be great in a yurt.
10. Are there any upcoming additions/changes to your glamping site you would like to share with us?
We're constantly making the yurt space better; we listen and learn from our guests. We're going to add another cool glamping site on our six acres—a tipi that is equally as secluded and special, which will be ready to book in 2020. It'll even have an outdoor shower! Thanks so much for letting us share our place with you.
Ready to head to California? Go experience the magic of Tim and Helene's glamping site firsthand!