A couple of weekends ago we went “Glamping” on the South Coast of New South Wales.
Glamorous Camping. It was something that had been on my bucket list for a long time, and I am grateful I finally got a chance to experience it.
It was glamour without the glitz though.
Having experienced camping the conventional way, I thought this would be amazing, a combination of the things I love about camping and the things I love about luxury.
So I guess, on the way home we were wondering why we felt disappointed. Had we become too picky? Or had we turned into pretentious snobs?
The last morning of our weekend away was the final straw.
Up early and already packed we planned to spend a quiet hour or two on our deck reading before check out, enjoy the peace and tranquillity, listening to the birds.
Oh, but nooo. The quiet was shattered with children, screaming. Maybe they were playing, but it sounded like they were killing each other.
We were confused. The resort doesn’t cater to children. But I will get to that soon. Here’s how the weekend went.
Precious Time Away
We have had very few weekends away together so we had been looking forward to this experience.
Overall we had a lovely weekend together. I laughed so much my stomach hurt, and we enjoyed the much needed time out.
We enjoyed morning walks shared with kangaroos and their joeys, more laughs as we tripped and stumbled our way along. Hikers, we are most definitely not.
We came across more kangaroos including a huge male who stood to full height when we came near. That’s when we decided to hightail it out of there!
We thought the tent was fantastic – we only had the “original” Safari Tent, not the deluxe version. The outdoor bathroom was great – although II wasn’t so sure I wanted to visit the facilities in the middle of the night and be surprised by a friendly possum, of which there were many in that area.
Possums it turned out weren’t the ones full of surprises, but more about that shortly.
And I wondered if I was a bit prudish.
Now I know that these are open-air bathrooms. Covered with a roof, but open to the elements. But what I didn’t think is that when I sat on the toilet I would be able to see the next tent along, straight into their front deck area, albeit through some scrub and trees.
It would be a safe assumption if I could see them that they could see me, quietly sitting there going about my business. I wasn’t sure what to do about that one.
As happy as I am in getting to know my neighbours I was quite sure I didn’t want to share that much with them. I wasn’t sure what to do when it came time to take a shower which was also in full view.
I didn’t remember camping to be quite like that. I was a little worried on the first morning when Dan was visiting the bathroom, and I heard voices and realised that one of the walking tracks goes right past our tent. All I kept thinking was “Don’t look over, don’t look over”. There were no screams. Apparently, no one looked over.
And then there was the visitor.
I needed to use the bathroom before heading out to dinner on the first night. It was nearly dark with a little bit of light left. I didn’t want to turn on the outside light.
Well you know, I didn’t want to highlight the fact to my neighbours – “Hello, I’m using the toilet with a bright light so you can see me!”
So in the dusk light, I lifted the toilet lid.
I looked, and looked again (a bit of delayed reaction) and then made some “Whhhhaaaaa” noise while backpedalling.
I called Dan. He looked, and he started making an even louder “Whhaaaaaaa” noise with some windmilling arm action.
There was the biggest, darkest “shape” in the toilet bowl. All I could think of was a giant, huge, scary spider! I mean I have lived on a bush property, gone bushwalking. I’ve seen them. They exist!
So, anyway, after all our “whaaaaing” Dan smartly slammed the lid down, flushed the toilet and put on the light. Being two intelligent people, you would have thought that idea would have occurred to us a bit earlier.
Then he lifted the lid again, slowly. All good, the scary thing was gone – until he lifted the seat. Suffice it to say the squeals (from me, Dan just made more “Whhaaaaaing” noises) could be heard on the other side of the camp, and we nearly scared the poor, although huge, frog to death.
That frog loved us so much that he decided to keep coming back. I so appreciated that, and so did Dan when he had to accompany me to the toilet during the night and thoroughly search for the frog before I would let him leave.
Then there was the cold.
I had thought it would be a little chilly. It was September, and I have camped at that time of the year. But it still didn’t prepare us.
When we returned to our tent on the first night after dinner, it felt like we were standing in the middle of a snowy field in nothing but our underwear. Actually, it felt like we were butt naked in Antarctica. It was bloody cold!
There were plenty of wool blankets and wool doonas in the tent. But how many layers can one sleep under?
When you start dreaming about being trapped under a block of concrete, and it is physically hard to turn over in bed because of the weight, you realise there are way too many layers on you.
And I was still cold.
Daylight finally came, but it was a long and very restless night.
We thought the only disturbance to our sleep would be the possums. We had been warned by the lady at reception that they would attempt to get in and to lock up well. I almost wished they had tried, their attempts to break in would have been a welcome distraction from the sound of my chattering teeth.
Dan was fine. He sleeps like the dead. I had very ungracious thoughts towards him when I was willing myself to sleep (under my concrete slab!) and he was snoring his head off at whatever godforsaken hour it was.
Lack of sleep does tend to make me a bit of a…
Well, let’s just stick with ungracious.
A New Day
As the sun slowly rose above the horizon, we suddenly heard footsteps crunching on the gravel outside on the path and up the stairs to our deck, followed by a “plonk”.
Oh yes, now Dan was awake. But I still don’t understand why I was the one nominated to get out of bed and unzip the doors (and then all the windows), ’cause you know I had been camping before was his excuse. I still haven’t worked that one out.
Anyway, the plonk was a very hot thermos of hot water so we could make a morning coffee with the supplies that I had found, neatly kept in a tin box on the shelf.
What a fabulous touch. We had been wondering how we would make ourselves tea and coffee with no electricity and had forgotten to ask at reception the night before.
The staff had been too amused by us when they realised we were the source of the squealing and “whaaaaaaing” that had been heard all over camp.
Our weekend stay included breakfast and dinner.
What to say about dinner? It was a little pretentious. I think we were suppressing giggles at the Caprese Salad – made up of one small slice of fresh mozzarella (the size of a 20 cent piece), four 1/8ths of different coloured cherry tomatoes and one whole cherry tomato. And let’s not forget the tiny smidgen of lemon paste.
We had enjoyed degustation menus before and had always been impressed. This course sadly lacked presentation and flavour. And let’s not forget substance.
The main meals on both nights were fantastic, thank goodness. So delicious. And the freshly baked lavender bread was just divine. Unfortunately for us being big dessert eaters, the dessert menu was sadly lacking too.
A tiny scoop of ice cream and fruit without any flavour (Dan likes to say the chef scared the flavour out of the fruit) and a piece of flavourless rum cake one night, and the next night the same ice cream with chopped apple. When we asked for the gluten-free version, we were told they just take off the rum cake. So ice cream then?
Maybe we are just too fussy.
We sound like complainers. We’re not. But when you run businesses as we do, you understand the importance of excellent customer service and attention to detail.
In the past, colleagues have told us we are too fussy and worry too much about the details of events and tours we run. But hey, they are great events and tours because we are fussy and worry about the details.
For us, it is always about creating an amazing experience for our clients and always, always trying to make it better.
The camp has been handed over to a Manager and staff, and don’t get me wrong; they were a friendly bunch. However, the detail was lacking.
We had no idea there would be a thermos delivered to our tent in the mornings. It would have been nice to know and not be scared out of bed by someone unexpectedly approaching the tent at such an early hour.
Upon telling one of the staff on the second night that we had been cold the previous night, she said we could have had a couple of hot water bottles. Nowhere was that mentioned in the information folder, and no one had told us at check-in.
Even though we had told housekeeping the first morning about our concerns with the bathroom privacy issue nothing happened to rectify the situation.
I constructed a makeshift screen with the towel rack and towels. We did receive an apology at checkout saying that work had been carried out through the week and the privacy screen had not been replaced (so I wasn’t a prude after all). Good to know, but not at all helpful.
The information folder in the tent lacked relevant information – great for things to do in the surrounding areas and activities but not with general information for the camp.
So, back to the final straw.
The camp is not set up for children, as the lady at reception told us later when we were checking out and enquired about the noise. It’s near the river, people come for peace, and it would be too easy for children to wander off and get lost.
Imagine our surprise at being told the Manager had popped in with her children, to visit a special guest.
Children that she let run riot!
We checked out unrelaxed, and a little perturbed by our shattered Sunday morning and were told, “Yeah, sorry about the noise”, “Sorry you didn’t have a privacy screen for your bathroom”, followed by “We hope to see you again”.
Uummm, I don’t think so.
I was disappointed because I had high expectations. It was such a shame because it could be such a special and unique experience.
This was definitely a time when we needed more “Glitz” with the glamour. This glamping experience was more camping than glamour. I really wanted a bit of glamour.
So had we turned into pretentious snobs or become too picky? No, we haven’t.
I do think we are more attuned to great customer experiences because of what we do.
Our overall thoughts on the weekend? It was great, and I am very grateful for the time away with Dan who I always share lots of laughs and great conversations with.
Would we try Glamping again?
I most definitely would. I’m not too sure about Dan, but give him a few years and he might be willing to give it another go.