News that a “glamping” proposal has landed before the San Juan County Planning Department has citizens scratching their heads in Silverton and Durango.
“Glamping” is a portmanteau, or combination, of the words “glamour” and “camping.” It’s just a handy word – like “brunch,” or “podcast” – but one that seems to defy true definition, as a quick run through the possibilities on Glampinghub.com confirms.
Glamping accommodations worldwide include luxurious tents, yurts and treehouses, classic Airstream trailers, even lighthouses, windmills, tiny houses and beach huts on stilts. Just in time for winter, there are igloos, too.
To even begin to understand the term, rest assured that the accent hits heavily on the first syllable. Regardless of structures, glamping outfits commonly feature fine dining, heated, fully-furnished accommodations, hot tubs, saunas, and massage and other spa options. The term encompasses an amazing variety of possibilities. But be aware that it also masks enough price-gouging to warrant an investigation by Congress.
Nearby possibilities range from a “cozy yurt nestled in Rocky Mountain backcountry” just outside of Pagosa Springs for $170 per night, to places that stretch the camping component of the term as far as they stretch a budget. How about a “cabin” in Mountain Village, upslope from Telluride, that will set one back over $3,000 per night with a five-night minimum stay?
The San Juan County glamping proposal, planned for private land just off U.S. Highway 550 near Forest Service road 585 on the turn toward the South Mineral Campground, is for 14 luxurious campsites on a wooden platform, covered by a large wall tent and featuring a bathhouse and sauna. At about $200 per night, the proposal would sit solidly in the more affordable range of the glamping spectrum.
To the local folks whose idea of glamping is to unroll the deluxe, inflatable Paco Pad in the bed of a pickup truck to avoid sleeping on the ground, the proposal may seem ridiculous.
Is it? If built as co-owner Dennis Stenslien intends, to blend into the scenic surroundings, the camp may prove a popular draw for well-off visitors who will likely stop and shop in Silverton, and in Durango, on their way in and out of the mountains.
While some in the region would agree with San Juan Commissioner Ernie Kuhlman that they would “rather have a nice big mine than a glamping campground,” the county’s economic future depends on out-of-the-box forward thinking, not the fading industry of the past.
Let the glamping begin.