Extra-comfy camping is big in Maine. Here’s how to enjoy some rustic charm without roughing it.
Karen Strickland camped as a kid and happily chaperoned her son’s Cub Scout trips. She still loves outdoor overnights. But she’s done fumbling with tent stakes and trying to get comfy in a sleeping bag full of pine needles and a pillow the size of a postage stamp.
“I love the woods and fresh air, but I don’t want the inconvenience,” says Strickland, of North Andover, Massachusetts.
That’s why Strickland has become a devotee of Sandy Pines Campground, which offers glamping, the portmanteau of camping and glamor that promises communion with nature without the back-breaking hassles.
Glampgrounds have proliferated in recent years, and because they offer a COVID-safe antidote to cabin fever — the comforts of a hotel with built-in social distancing — they’ve never been hotter. Since 2019, new glampgrounds have opened in Maine, everywhere from Mount Desert Island to Sanford, including in several state parks.
“People love it here,” says Cheryl Childs, general manager of Sandy Pines Campground in Kennebunkport, a 60-acre site that features unique retreats that include safari tents and tricked-out vintage VW campers.
Outfits like Sandy Pines have attracted seasoned campers like Strickland, who has stayed at each of Sandy Pines’ glamping options, as well as travelers like Michelle Phillips, of Jackson, New Hampshire, who never likes to stay anywhere she can’t plug in a hair dryer. “You feel like you’re roughing it, but you’re not,” she says. Curious? Read this.
Travel light. Glampsites come outfitted with hotel-caliber beds, linens, and towels, plus chairs and refrigerators, so you don’t have to cram the car with gear and food. Sandy Pines serves breakfast at its lodge and sells provisions like bread and s’mores makings at its store.
Bring some matches. With glamping, you still get camping’s quintessential pleasures. Each site has a fire ring, so you can experience the primal joy of building a fire, cooking over an open flame, and roasting marshmallows.
When you gotta go. Glampsites don’t come with bathrooms but with private bathhouses (so bring a headlamp if you need to heed nature’s call in the evening). The bathrooms are pristine, Phillips reports. “I’m a pretty fussy traveler, and I was totally comfortable.”
Get some space. Glampsites are set far enough apart that you never feel too close for comfort. At Sandy Pines, family sites are in a separate area from those reserved for adults, so you don’t have to stress about a ruckus if you’re traveling kid free.
What Kind of Glamper Are You?
Traditionalist. All you ask is a roomy tent — albeit tastefully decorated and climate controlled, like Sandy Pines’s safari tents. Luxury touches include king-size beds, nice linens, A/C and heat, dressing tables, and sitting areas, with options for couples and families. Sandy Pines tapped Maine’s top interior designers, and each tent has its own unique vibe, like Boho Luxury Nest or Seagrass. Minimalist. The outdoors is your living room and you like the simplicity of an A-frame — for example, the cozy wood-and-canvas Hideaway Huts at Sandy Pines. Cottager. You want it rustic but prefer four walls, thanks. At Sandy Pines, cute Camp Cottages on wheels offer king-size beds (plus twins for the kiddos in the family cottages). Maverick. You have a lot of personality, and your glamping digs should too. Sandy Pines Unique Retreats include a 1970s Volkswagen bus, two Old West–style Conestoga covered wagons, a pair of Airstream trailers, a space-age bubble dome, and more.