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Escape to your backyard this summer with at-home glamping

Long Islanders who want to treat themselves to a fabulous vacation this summer but are reluctant to venture too far from home can find what they’re looking for right in their backyard – by turning their land into luxury accommodations with glamping. Nicole and Frank Zappulla, and their daughters Kenzie, 5, Madison, 11, and Giuliana, 7, ordered a tent from Allison Lynch, "The Sleepover Fairy." Credit: Newsday / Thomas A. Ferrara

Long Islanders who want to treat themselves to a fabulous vacation this summer without venturing too far from home can find what they’re looking for right in their backyard — by turning their land into luxury accommodations with glamping.

Authorities say that camping is expected to become the new collective adventure for 2020, and that glamping can deliver a much-needed respite and connection to the outdoors for those who want to enjoy the camping experience sans the sleeping on the ground. Glamping started in Africa more than a century ago when British and American tourists began traveling on luxurious safaris that included sumptuous meals, fine wines and other comforts of home.

To get started on your DIY glamping adventure, all you need is a large tent, some creativity, and an eye for style. Instead of a sleeping bag, think air mattress with a memory foam mattress topper, lovely linens, colorful throw pillows, plants in containers, solar-powered string lights, candlelight dining, nice barware, gourmet takeout and s’mores made with peanut butter cups or Toblerone Swiss chocolate instead of a Hershey bar.

“Backyard glamping is a wonderful idea,” says Rachel Kench of Center Moriches, who owns the furnished camper rental company, Long Island Glampers (liglampers.com) with her husband, Hal. Their fleet of RVs are decorated in stylish retro or modern décor. “A person who enjoys or prefers glamping is probably someone who needs a true break. Being out in nature and unplugging for a while is a blessing, and people who want to glamp want to do that, but they also want a sense of elegance and some of the comforts of home.”

Kench adds that glamping is something to fun to consider for a getaway, especially now.

“A lot of people have expressed to us that they just aren’t ready to get back into airports and airplanes,” Kench says. “Think of [backyard camping] as a ‘safecation,’ you can plan a really fun time and make some memories with the children, safely.”

Rebecca Martin, CEO and founder of Terra Glamping (terraglamping.com) that offers glamping experiences in East Hampton, says glamping has become hugely popular in the past several years and the trend is expected to continue. 

“If we thought we needed a digital detox before, then we really need it now," she says. "The opportunity to escape to the outdoors has never seemed so novel or exciting.”

Martin says to think of a glamping tent as an opportunity for those with high style to have a field day.

“Because glamping tents are a blank space, you can decorate them however you want — romantic, whimsical, western, go crazy … then get your Instagram shots in,” Martin says. She notes there are many “beautiful” tents now on the market. “Bell Tents, Safari Tents and Nomad tents are a good choice. If you have privacy, bubble tents or glamping domes allow you to see the night stars.”

When setting up your own, experts recommend setting up on a flat surface in the yard, adding air mattresses, battery-powered lanterns and fun additions like telescopes or an outdoor movie projector.

Lauren Thayer Weiss, a Sagaponack resident, mother of two girls, 7 and 9, and owner of Thayer’s Hardware & Patio (thayershardware.com) in Bridgehampton, says her family started glamping in their backyard well before the virus hit and that it’s become a favorite thing for her kids to do.

“My family uses an inexpensive but lux-looking yurt for our backyard and summer glamping,” Weiss says. Their setup includes colorful decorations around the door, string lights, rugs, air mattresses, lanterns, and a stylish table and chairs for dining outside. “Last year we had it up from June to the end of October,” Weiss adds. “Our kids loved sleeping in it and keeping in touch on their walkie talkies.”

And glamping tents just for kids are available too. One option they’ll love is a teepee offered at Crate & Barrel (crateandbarrel.com, $159) that comes with a sophisticated black and white stripe exterior. While it’s made for indoor use, it can be a private hideout for kids who might want to create their own oasis on the deck in dry weather.

Kench says that one of the best things about backyard glamping is the convenience, since most of what you’ll need you already have in the house. “You don’t have to pack up your entire show to have a good, comfortable and safe time.”

THE SLEEPOVER FAIRY

If you’re into home deliveries, one Long Island glamping service has that too — for almost everything you could need for your DIY experience and it’s all brought right to your backyard.

Last June, Islip resident Allison Lynch McCauley started her “Sleepover Fairy” business (thesleepoverfairy.wixsite.com/thesleepoverfairy), with offerings ranging from deliveries of glamping tents and mattresses, furnishings, decorations, lighting and rugs, to rentals of glamping tents with stylish and fun interior décor for events such as birthdays, kids sleepovers and other occasions.

Upgrades are also available that include food deliveries such as custom cakes, outdoor movie theater setups, an “Extreme Popcorn Bar,” “Decorate Your Own Pillowcase” instruction, event photography, personalized slumber shirts and pajamas, and “sleepover prep boxes” complete with a toothbrush, sleep mask, a water bottle and snack.

Lynch, a Brentwood teacher, says she got the idea for the glamping business from her childhood. “I did it myself with my girlfriends from middle school. We used to camp out in one of the girl’s backyards [who lived in East Islip] in the summer,” she explains. “Those are some of my best memories.”

And these days, Lynch says her business is more in demand than ever since she’s found more and more people getting back to activities popular decades ago. “People are enjoying their backyards more — it’s hard to get to beaches or away for a vacation,” Lynch adds. “Glamping is a mini escape, but in your backyard. All my weekends are booked for the summer and most of the weekdays are booked.”

Until COVID restrictions are lifted, Lynch says she is not allowed to provide mattresses and bedding or services other than the DYI setups. She sets up the tents for her clients, and provides things such as lanterns, small eating tables, fairy lighting and outdoor rugs, and the DIYers do the rest.

DIY options start and $175 a night and there are a range of packages available for other glampers.

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