It was while night bathing in a big, copper tub outside an air-conditioned tent that I got the whole glamping thing.

It’s freeing to be in the buff surrounded by water and looking up at stars at night, especially when a fire is going in a nearby pit. It’s even better when afterward when you can duck inside a tent tricked out with a comfy king-size bed, wifi, television, chargers, coffee maker, a mini fridge and indoor plumbing.

Towels were fresh, shampoo smelled amazing and even a couple of s’mores kits were given as freebies.

Glamorous camping is definitely the way to experience the great outdoors, at least the way I prefer.

My sister and I spent a night at Camp Long Creek that opened in May as part of Big Cedar Lodge, located about 10 miles south of Branson, Missouri, overlooking Table Rock Lake. The new campground is adjacent to the Long Creek Marina not far from the Arkansas-Missouri line.

The 280-square-foot tent is perfect for a girls’ weekend or romantic getaway.

It was a complimentary stay to get a better understanding of what makes this a unique experience.

Chiefly, it is a tent; a real tent made of heavy canvas perched on a wooden platform with tall privacy fencing and a porch looking at the lake. It has a screen layer for when people want more open air but not the bugs that come with it.

Everything to make a fire is provided: wood, kindling, fire starter and long matches. There are grills available and a pit. It was so easy to figure out that I had roaring flames within five minutes.

It’s quiet with only nature providing a soundtrack: crickets, leaves rustling in wind and birds serving as an alarm clock. Be prepared for the early sunrise to light up the tent.

While television is available, it wasn’t working when we arrived, a temporary outage. And, I felt like an idiot calling from a tent (at my sister’s insistence) to inquire why.

It didn’t matter. We spent most of the time outside around the fire talking, which is what people are supposed to do when camping. It’s amazing how many of the world’s problems can be solved in the course of an evening’s conversation.

Also, my sister brought her iPad, so she was OK.

On our trip, temperatures were reaching well into the upper 90s, but it was 68 in our tent. Just like traditional rooms, the privacy fence had an electronic key to enter for security.

The new resort includes a beautiful infinity pool on the edge of the lake, allows pets and is within walking distance of an affordable canteen (a retrofitted Airstream) and dog park. Visitors can fish, rent boats or drive a few minutes to the Big Cedar Lodge attractions.

The new camp offers different types of lodging with actual walls. The humble exterior of the 188-square-foot huts doesn’t reflect the contemporary décor inside. The one-bedroom cottages can handle a family of four, but it’s still a cozy 330-square feet.

Pathways snake through the property, making for nice morning walks.

The property has become popular in its four months of operation, with reservations quickly booking up. The fall season ends Nov. 3 and resumes March 6.

For people wanting to glamp in the city, a sister property – Big Cypress Lodge – opened in downtown Memphis, Tennessee. It’s not as much a camping experience as much as rustic, cabin-style rooms.

Big Cedar Lodge was purchased by Bass Pro Shops founder Johnny Morris in 1987 and expanded into an outdoor destination. So it makes sense the Memphis property sprawls across the second the third floors of the pyramid shaped Bass Pro Shops store that overlooks downtown.

For me, I’ll stick with my Ozarks, but I’ll do so in air-conditioning, under a chandelier with a sleep mask.


Ginnie Graham


Twitter: @GinnieGraham