Bonavista Living getting into 'glamping' with newest venture

As of the Victoria Day weekend, visitors to Bonavista will be able to rent accommodations that try to strike a balance between modern living and traditional escapes.

Bonavista Living adding glamping pods to its list of projects this year

The small glamping pods will have paths leading to a main building featuring amenities like washrooms and a kitchenette. (Bonavista Living/Facebook)

This summer Bonavista will add glamping to the list of reasons why the historic town is becoming an increasingly popular destination for tourists.

Bonavista Living is building three new glamping pods — rustic buildings designed to strike a balance between camping and indoor accommodations — in the Rolling Cove area of the community.

Glamping is a newer trend in the hospitality industry, but the idea behind Bonavista Living's venture might not be entirely unfamiliar to Newfoundlanders and Labradorians used to escaping everyday life to head to rustic cabins.

"Some people describe them as similar to the traditional camps that people used to build, simple cabins in the woods year ago," John Norman, Bonavista Living's chief operating officer, told CBC's Newfoundland Morning about the pods.

The glamping pods will have windows facing the ocean, says Bonavista Living chief operating officer John Norman. (Bonavista Living/Facebook)

What is 'glamping'?

"Glamping" describes accommodations that find a balance between an outdoor experience, similar to camping, but with more amenities — even a bit of luxury.

"It supposedly describes 'glamorous camping,' if there could be such a thing," Norman said.

"It is camping that is a little more comfortable, a little less rustic than the traditional tent, and that's what we're trying to offer here."

A heritage home is being renovated to serve as the hub for Bonavista Living's glamping pods. (Bonavista Living/Facebook)

There are still just a couple of glamping sites in the province, Norman said, and a handful in Atlantic Canada, but it's very popular in other parts of North America and around the world, he said.

Bonavista Living's plans include a renovated heritage home that will serve as the main property, offering washroom facilities, a kitchenette and internet access.

From that house there will be paths leading to the individual glamping pods, which will have an exterior design that mimics the traditional camps or outbuildings that were used in the area beginning in the 1800s, Norman said.

The small sloped-room buildings, painted in red ochre, will be nine-by-12 feet and have a wall of windows facing the ocean.

In contrast to the amenities of the main building, the pods will have a built-in bed, locally built chairs, small wood stoves, great views and not much else. There's no electricity or plumbing in the pods, just a portable solar lantern to use to reach the main house.

"People will be disconnected when they're actually in the pod, sleeping at night," Norman said. 

'Settled into the landscape'

The popularity of the venture remains to be seen, but Norman is optimistic the glamping pods will connect people with the land and traditional living.

"They're settled into the landscape as those outbuildings would have been," he said. In fact, some of the traditional outbuildings used in the area are still standing and used nearby.

The cost to glamp in Bonavista hasn't been finalized, though Norman said he expects the pods to rent for about $100-$125 per night, which would put them in line with other glamping sites in Atlantic Canada. 

"I feel it's a connection to the place and to the culture in a slightly different way than you see in the inns and B&Bs that Bonavista accommodations have become known for," he said.

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

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