You know what’s great about camping? Spending time with loved ones in the sanctity of the outdoors. You know what’s not so great about camping? Everything else. We’re talking packing your entire garage into your station wagon, getting lost in the wilderness on the way to camp, skipping dinner to pitch your tent in the dark, having your tent fall apart on top of you in the middle of the night, cleaning up garbage after critters ravage your campsite, and so on. Shelter Co. wilderness retreat aims to take all that hassle away so that camping can be what it's supposed to be: a relaxing retreat among friends and family.
Shelter Co. strikes an interesting balance between the doting comforts of glamping and the rough, rustic flavor of traditional bag-on-the-ground camping. The company calls itself a "pop up lodging service catering to groups looking for an outdoor experience." You pick out a location (or ask for their expert opinion on suitable spots), and Shelter Co. does the legwork, bringing tents, bathroom facilities and furniture. It's based in California, but company co-founder Kelsey Sheofsky told us that they'll travel anywhere, applying a travel fee calculated for the specific location.
While tents might sound like roughin' it, we're talking European canvas tents that are set up like lodge retreats - full beds wrapped in 400-count sheets and down comforters, lounge seating and carpeted floors. The furnishings and accessories look like they were pulled straight out of a four-figure ski or fishing lodge - basically a luxury wilderness lodge "in even the most far flung locations."
Shelter Co.'s basic package includes the furnished tents and restroom facilities. For an added cost, the company can also take on every other detail of the trip, including food catering, event planning and activities. Its à la carte menu includes basics like camping gear boxes with flashlights, sunscreen and the like, to more elaborate inclusions like an outdoor movie theater and wine-tasting nature tours. The only hassle you might have to deal with on the trip is the obligatory "Are we there yet?!" from the kids.
Shelter Co. definitely won't be the choice for those looking toward camping as a cheap family vacation - each tent costs US$750 and the website lists a 3-tent/$2,000 minimum for booking. In addition to regular camping trips, the company welcomes events like weddings and corporate retreats.