NEWS
12/31/2018 17:32 EST | Updated 12/31/2018 17:44 EST

Winter Glamping Is The Best Way To Achieve Peak Canadian Fun

(Not to mention the warmest and most comfortable!)

Despite Canadians' reputation as hardy, cold-proof inhabitants of the North, a lot of us draw a line when it comes to participating in certain winter activities.

Voluntarily sleeping on the ground in sub-zero weather, it's safe to say, is that line for many.

Winter camping has historically been an exercise in preparation and outdoor know-how. Proper gear, a hawk-eye view on changing weather patterns, and cold weather survival tactics have been essential.

But a rise in comfort camping — often referred to as "glamorous camping" or "glamping" — means Canadians' views on winter camping are shifting as an influx of options is getting people up off the ground and surrounded by luxury amenities.

"People really want to get away in the winter, to spend time outside, but they're not interested in hauling all their gear into the backcountry and having to set it all up," Gair Fryers, president of Castleavery Hospitality Ventures in Alberta, told HuffPost Canada.

Michelle Butterfield
The winter glamping tents at Mount Engadine Lodge are comfortable and warm, with king-sized beds and propane stoves.

Fryers' company owns Mount Engadine Lodge, nestled in the Rockies west of Calgary. He recently introduced five winterized tents in an attempt to cash in on the growing interest in glamping.

Each of their 320-sq.-ft. tents is wrapped in thick canvas and features a king-sized bed, propane fireplace, chandelier, a full bathroom, and electricity. Overnight visitors can borrow the lodge's free snowshoes, fat bikes, and ice cleats to take advantage of the pristine mountain terrain surrounding the lodge.

Take a tour of the Mount Engadine Lodge glamping tents. Story continues below:

Photo gallery Mount Engadine Lodge Glamping Tents See Gallery

According to the Kampgrounds of America (KOA) 2018 North American Camping Report, the popularity of camping is rising in Canada, with the number of new camping households growing by a half million in 2017. One-third of the Canadian campers surveyed by KOA reported they would like to try a luxury cabin or glamping experience in the coming year.

"There's a lot of interest around Winter 101," Rose Boulton, global media specialist with Travel Alberta, explained to HuffPost Canada, adding that people are looking for "easy" ways to enjoy Canadian winters without having to sink a bunch of money into gear or formulate elaborate contingency plans.

Cherie and Chad Ball of Okotoks, Alta., said an increased interest in winter camping is spilling over into their peer-to-peer RV rental service, Wheel Estate.

Of the more than 1,000 campers and trailers for rent on Wheel Estate — which is essentially an Airbnb for campers and trailers — about 25 per cent are equipped for winter camping.

Courtesy, Wheel Estate
Chad and Cherie Ball say they've noticed a lot of interest in winter camping from people using their peer-to-peer RV rental service.

"People really seem to enjoy finding a quiet campground where they can stay, head out to enjoy the winter activities, but still having a warm, dry place to lay their head at the end of the day," Chad told HuffPost Canada, adding that renting a trailer offers "a kind of quiet that you don't get at busy, bustling hotels."

Another factor driving interest in winter glamping is what Boulton calls "the Instagram effect": the increased attraction to places and experiences that make for great social media posts.

"For some people, posting aspirational and inspiring images and videos is almost as important as the experience itself," she said.

More from HuffPost Canada:


The Woods Parka Lodge on Kennisis Lake in Ontario's cottage country understands the importance of appealing to social media users, and advertises its newly built, parka-insulated glamping yurt as a "rugged, stylish and inspiring" retreat complete with a turntable and vintage vinyl, private yoga lessons, and a complimentary parka for guests to take home.

Check out all the additional features of the Woods Parka Lodge. Story continues below:

The aspirational Instagram and Facebook game is paying off for Mount Engadine Lodge too; they post brilliant, high-quality photos of the surrounding area to entice potential visitors.

"As soon as we launched on social media the phone started ringing," Fryers said, adding that 40 per cent of all bookings come from links on their social media accounts.

"The great thing about winter glamping is that you can do it quite affordably, if you want, or you can splurge and really make it a special occasion," said Boulton.

Glamping facilities in Canada run the gamut from a few dozen dollars per night for an RV rental, to thousands of dollars for week-long cabin vacations that involve excursions and all-inclusive food and drink.

Many Canadian glamping sites, especially in areas with low winter tourism, offer special winter deals to attract off-season customers.

"Everyone should really try glamping at some point," said Fryers.

"We have people that come [to Engadine] and they swear they hate camping, but as soon as they see our glamping tents they immediately say 'now, this is my type of camping!'"