If you’re like the 25% of Ontarians who, according to Ontario Parks, have never been camping, a “glamping” vacation may be just the push you need to experience the great outdoors.
Glamping is a travel trend catching on everywhere from Vancouver Island in British Columbia to the Yukon to northern Ontario. Perfect for discerning travellers or any would-be camper nervous about equipment or the elements, it combines the comforts of modern furniture, electrical lighting and, in some cases, chef-prepared gourmet meals with the simplicity of camping.
At one hour from Toronto, Bingemans Camping Resort in Kitchener offers a family-friendly option close to Ontario's capital.
Guests stay in Bingemans’ waterproof glamping yurt – a large, circular wood frame tent raised two-to-three feet off the ground on a platform – in a gated area near the resort’s RV park. There are no steps or ramps up to the platform, so small children and those with mobility concerns may need some assistance accessing the yurt.
The yurt’s deck faces the Grand River that flows through the resort. Sitting by the campfire at dusk while watching the water on the river is a relaxing way to pass the time.
There are two large windows in the yurt that have no covering beyond clear plastic sheets meant to keep out the nighttime chill. This is an obvious privacy issue, especially evident during my stay when several groups used the edge of the campsite just metres from the window as an informal path to the river where they launched and landed kayaks and walked dogs for a drink from the river. It made changing out of swimsuits or into pajamas an especially uncomfortable task, as one eye had to be kept on the window for foot traffic while clothes were quickly swapped.
Inside the yurt are two beds with linens, a sitting area, fans to keep guests cool on warm nights and chandelier lighting. There’s also a mini-fridge inside, something most campers at one time wish they had on summer trips when the ice in the cooler didn't quite keep food fresh.
As someone who camps often, I found the convenience of not having to unpack and set up a tent, blow up an air mattress or constantly return to the park store for more ice a very welcome change. Guests should remember, though, that despite these amenities, they’re still camping. Spiders had covered the yurt’s chandelier in webs, bugs and outside dirt got inside and guests still have to use those less-than-pleasant public washrooms.
Kids will enjoy all the activities offered on site at Bingemans, especially the speed slides, wave pool and cyclone at Big Splash waterpark. Other family-friendly activities at Bingemans include go karting, a mini putt course and rock climbing.
A stay in the glamping yurt is pricey, with rates starting at $120 per night on weeknights and $150 per night on weekends. Extras, such as family passes to Bingemans’ waterpark or chef-created meals and spa treatments, are available at an additional cost.
For more information on camping at Bingemans Camping Resort, visit bingemans.com.