Forget sleeping bags shared with creepy crawlies – these Aussie ‘glam camping' holidays get back to nature without compromising on life's little luxuries.
Camping's no longer the cheap holiday choice, with celebs such as Kate Moss forking out thousands to stay at Camp Kerala during the Glastonbury festival, and Peaches and Pixie Geldof choosing tents over a posh hotel. ‘Glamping,' as the trend has been called, is far from your dodgy blow-up mattress affair – and, as an environmentally-friendly choice, Sienna Miller and pals have even taken to using low-impact tents and potato-starch pegs that, unlike metal pegs, simply decompose. With so many famous faces choosing chic campfire trips, star designers such as Cath Kidston and Ted Baker have gotten into the act and designed camping equipment for the celeb-sanctioned craze – from rose-printed tents to velvet covered airbeds. ‘Ten years ago it was chic to save up and go to a smart hotel,' says Cath. ‘But I think we're all a bit sick of that sort of thing now.' Model Jodie Kidd is also a camping convert, contributing to the cute book Cool Camping (HarperCollins, available to order through bookstores), which she says ‘shows just how stylish outdoor life can be.' Check out these Australian glamping spots that put your leaky two-man tent to shame…
Longitude 131, Northern Territory
Just a stone's throw from Uluru and The Olgas, the only thing tent-like about this five-star accommodation is the billowing sail roof. Packed with all the mod cons, like air-con, the environmentally friendly resort is nestled at the edge of Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. All 15 abodes have a grand view out to the Red Centre from the private balcony – or from the shower! Order a bottle of brekkie champagne and watch the sun rise over Uluru from your comfy king-size bed or partake in Table 131 and watch the sunset over the giant glowing rock before adjourning for gourmet dinner under the stars.
Details: Located just outside Alice Springs, prices start at Dhs 3,550 a person a night with a minimum two-night stay and include all meals and beverages as well as park entry and airport transfers. Go to www.longitude131.com.au.
Wrotham Park Lodge, Queensland
McLeod's Daughters fans can live out their jillaroo fantasies at this sprawling 600,000ha working cattle station on the Mitchell River. Horse-riding, 4WD-ing, canoeing and fishing compete for your attention with walks through the stunning bush or watching emus and wallabies from the daybed of your bush bungalow – one of 10 perched on the canyon-like river banks. The Lodge is open from April to October but visit between May and September to make like Nicole and Hugh in Australia and participate in the station's cattle muster. And, after a hard day's yakka, enjoy a four-course meal in The Homestead and sit by the fire telling outback tales fuelled by the 24-hour bar.
Details: Wrotham Park Lodge is a four-hour drive west of Cairns, or a 45-minute flight arranged by the Lodge. Two-night packages start at Dhs 5,180 per person twin-share including all meals and beverages. Go to www.wrothamlodge.com.au.
Wilsons Promontory Wilderness Retreat, Victoria
If the words ‘National Park' conjure up nightmarish memories of school excursions filled with soggy sneakers and leeches between toes, this Mornington Peninsula experience will cure your phobia. The Parks Victoria's camp has minimal – if any – environmental impact, and provides four tents raised on galvanised steel frames well away from other campers. No midnight torch trips to the loo, either, with a private ensuite and a communal kitchen to whip up camp faves such as snag sandwiches. Set up for couples, the tents can sleep up to four and feature everything from a queen-size bed and table and chairs to a wooden deck, all your linen and a fridge for the all-essential beverages. Take on bush walking paths or head up to the nearby lighthouse for a picnic overlooking the ocean cliffs – that's what Kate & Co. would do! You'll find similar set-ups at Buchan Caves and Cape Conran parks, too.
Details: Wilsons Promontory is about 1.5 hours south east of Melbourne. Tents cost Dhs 860 per night, per couple (two-nights minimum). Go to www.parkweb.vic.gov.au.
Huon Bush Retreats, Tasmania
Ever fancied your own tipee? These timber and canvas tents are great for those who aren't after a five-star price tag but can't sleep in anything but a comfy bed. Just under an hour south of Hobart in the Huon Valley, the camp has shared bathroom and kitchen facilities, but that's more than made up by the in-tent fireplace, CD player, balcony and room – or rather tipee – service of meals delivered to your door. There's also a cheeky outdoor bath for two!
Details: Prices are Dhs 450 per night per couple with discounts available for longer stays. Go to www.huonbushretreats.com.
Sal Salis Ningaloo Reef, Western Australia
Hidden in the sand dunes of Cape Range National Park you'll find these five exclusive safari tents…Wake up in your luxury sheets and literally walk a matter of metres to the ocean for a morning dip, or arrange to go swimming with Whale Sharks from nearby Exmouth. An eco-retreat – with plans to be carbon neutral soon – it's situated right on the 280km-long reef with snorkeling and diving just seconds from shore. As part of the national park, you'll be surrounded by wildlife, from goannas to Skippys, without sacrificing on luxuries such as the 1000 thread-count sheets, gourmet dining and fine wines.
Details: Prices start at Dhs2,455 per person, twin share, per night, with a minimum two-night stay. Go to www.salsalis.com.au.
Extravacamps, New South Wales
Want a genuine outdoor experience without having to pitch the tent? This is your bag then. It's guaranteed you'll be the only person at the Kangaroo, Hunter or Glenworth Valley spots where you'll find this camping experience – all situated between one and hours drive from Sydney – or the new Murwillumbah spot in northern NSW. Best of all, the aptly-named Decatent will be set up, with big comfy bed and separate ensuite trailer and kitchen tent, when you arrive. Even the firewood is chopped and ready for building a fire and toasting marshmallows. There are a variety of packages – with the option of a personal chef preparing your evening meal! Very Hollywood!
Details: Prices start at Dhs 735 per person per night ranging to Dhs1,435 for the luxury deal – with a two-night minimum. Go to www.extravacamps.com.au.
HOW TO GET THERE: Etihad Airways flies directly from Abu Dhabi to Sydney and Brisbane. From there, catch a connecting flight or drive to your nearest camp-worthy destination.
For more information, visit www.etihadairways.com
Source: OK! Middle East