East Hampton Now Has the Glamping Retreat of Your Summertime Dreams
A half-finished bottle of wine was nestled among the rocks of the beach, a generous wedge of brie handy; the gently rippled waves of the Long Island Sound turned slightly pink by the setting sun.
We settled down to our beachside picnic at Cedar Point County Park, just north of East Hampton, clinking our plastic wine cups and watching high tide come in, just steps from our home for the night: a large tent.
And while the idea of East Hampton evokes images of glamorous pool parties, dirty martinis, and luxurious shopping, Rebecca Martin, the CEO and co-founder of Terra Glamping, is trying to add camping to the list. But as with most things in the Hamptons, it’s just a little nicer than your ordinary camping experience.
“You don’t think of camping in the Hamptons, but we're happy to bring that. Every single day we see people who tell us 'I hate camping, but I can do this,'” Martin told Travel + Leisure. “What you think of the Hamptons is the outdoors, you think of all the great summer time activities, and we think this fits perfectly in that model. And an upscale version of camping — if the Hamptons is going to accept anything then it’s an upscale version of anything coming in.”
That evening, the smell of the campfire — warm and smoky and comforting — swirled around us as Martin fanned the flames, willing the logs to catch. Moments later, with embers shooting into the clear night sky, I loaded up a long roasting stick with marshmallows and watched them smolder (because camping just isn’t camping without s’mores). The fixings, of course, were provided by Martin, along with activities like kayaks, stand up paddle boards, and board games. For breakfast, Martin put out donuts from Grindstone Coffee & Donuts in nearby Sag Harbor, along with pour-over coffee, fruit, and granola — one more reminder we weren’t fending for ourselves.
“We just want it to be an escape for people that they can just leave their lives for a weekend. You don't have to travel far, but you feel like you're a million miles from home, slowing down, enjoying people, enjoying nature,” she said. “We really want it to be an escape, but a comfortable one.”
The camp was set up in an large field with lounge areas in front of private tents. And it was no doubt an outdoor experience, bugs included. But as I settled into bed under the soft covers, sinking into the memory foam mattress, and got ready to lose a game of Scrabble, I was suddenly very aware this wasn’t your typical camping experience. I could hear the water lapping at the shoreline just feet from the deck of my tent, and yet I was warm and cozy in bed.
The camp, with 30 tents starting at $300 per night, is the first of its kind to set up in the area, Martin said, each tent facing the water. While this is Martin’s first year in the Hamptons, it isn’t the first camp she’s set up: in the past, Terra Glamping has set up camps on the Sonoma coast in California, in the Catskills, and in Woodstock. Most recently, Terra Glamping set up a pop-up on top of the Watergate Hotel in Washington D.C. where guests can shell out $3,000 for a night under a geo-dome tent.
While in the Hamptons, forced relaxation becomes a craveable luxury. There’s no Wi-Fi or electricity to distract you, but there are portable phone charges because, as Martin concedes, they don't aim to "choke" guests with a technology detox.
As a New Yorker who doesn’t tend to sit idle for long, it took a moment to adjust. I didn’t have anything to do. But the longer I sat on the deck, just staring out at the sun-kissed water, the quieter my mind became. And as I got ready to the leave the next morning, driving into East Hampton for a little window shopping (can you blame me?), I found myself suddenly wishing I found time to sit still more often.