Glamping May Be Your Best — And Safest — Bet For a Summer Vacation

by Michelle Brown

Experiencing travel angst? Individual cabin rentals with enhanced cleaning protocols will put your mind at ease.

A luxury private yurt at Savage River Lodge | Courtesy of Veronica Varos Photography

Coronavirus may have dashed travel plans and left discarded itineraries in its wake, but for those longing for a getaway from the four walls of their home, the perfect excursion during this time might just prove to be nature. While vacationers may opt against taking a plane or a train for quite some time, would-be adventurers experiencing travel angst need look no further than the rolling hills and majestic mountains a few hours (driving) out of D.C. for their next vacation spot.

Individual luxury cabins dotted across the mid-Atlantic landscape appeal to both hardcore nature lovers and others simply looking for a scenic getaway — and best of all, social distancing is built into the practice itself. In addition to that, though, some resorts have been meticulous about their cleaning practices and have introduced additional measures to maximize visitor comfort and safety.

Glamping across several locations takes its form in yurts, individual round tents associated with the Central Asian steppes. Despite their unsuspecting exteriors, the inside of Savage River Lodge’s luxury yurts are cozily furnished, combining a modern, rustic aesthetic with vintage touches like a gas fireplace. Larger parties, however, might opt for a more traditional individual two-story cabin to really spread out.

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As a true unplug from fast-paced daily life, the Frostburg, Md. retreat’s lodgings do not include television or Wi-Fi. 

“Fresh air and open spaces may not be a panacea, but we find it does wonders for the soul,” explains Elizabeth Williams, marketing manager for the lodge, where hiking and fly fishing are popular activities that relish the Garrett County flora and fauna.

Like many campsites and resorts during this time, Savage River Lodge has amended its standard operating procedures to make visitors comfortable with venturing out, including closing communal spaces, swapping reusable items for disposable ones and removing books and magazines. Though the lodge’s onsite restaurant remains closed, its signature morning muffin deliveries continue, among other take-out and delivery alternatives. 

Perhaps what quells most fears, though, is the inherent seclusion: “We’ve been socially distancing up here on the mountaintop since 1999,” Williams noted. 

A spacious yurt at Rose River Farm — your only neighbor being nature

Seeing as spending a few days in a yurt is a less than familiar experience for most, dipping a toe into the practice can be achieved at Rose River Farm, known for its three luxury yurts with multiple bedrooms and bathrooms and all the amenities of a typical hotel room: television, Wi-Fi, DVD players and so on. As founder and host Douglas Dear assures, with each cabin situated at least 100 yards apart, “You can literally keep completely to yourself during your entire stay.” 

Expanded cleaning protocols and increased booking flexibility are some of the measures the farm has taken, including regular disinfecting and no-contact self-check-in. While some activities like hikes across Old Rag Mountain and White Oak Canyon Waterfalls have been put on hold so far, with the relatively few cases of coronavirus in Madison County, Dear is confident “they should be open very soon.”

Getaway campsite equipped with cabin and grill space | All Rights Reserved to Michelle Watt

For maximum recharge, a convenient getaway might just be Getaway, the modern cabin rental service with outposts across the country. The Shenandoah hideaway accessible to those driving out of D.C. contains several small, intimate cabins all spaced 40 to 200 feet apart from each other with no communal spaces. 

Intended to house two to four guests, Getaway cabins are designed to decrease distraction with their minimalist accommodations and encourage quiet reflection and much-needed rewind. Still, the experience is accessible to both frequent campers and first-time explorers, as hot showers and air-conditioning are included.  

Like many other campsites, Getaway is operating at reduced capacity and is a thoroughly “contact-free” experience. Getaway’s vice president of marketing Rachel Mansfield noted guests should feel comfortable using Getaway as “each Getaway location follows CDC and local guidelines, and we’ve gone to extra efforts to make sure every cabin is deeply disinfected.”

The vast Blue Ridge Mountain resort Primland

If you’ve ever wondered what a Catskill summer might be like, a trip to the Primland resort in Virginia is a more than viable substitute — though of course, the mountain range to marvel would be the Blue Ridge Mountains in their distinctive cerulean hue. 

Primland’s massive playground of 12,000 acres allows for plenty of activities that make use of the vast landscape, most of which remain available during this time, including access to the golf course and observatory, fishing, hiking, biking, sport shooting and RTV trail riding. 

Luxury accommodations include individual treehouses, cottages and mountain homes, so minimal contact with other guests is quite possible. As Dan Shepherd, Primland’s head of PR, explained, “It’s a win-win as pertains to social distancing and enjoying a luxury resort that is being safely operated in a rustic, elegant setting where the great outdoors is at the property’s essence.”

Seeking extra caution, Primland provides guests with masks, gloves, sanitizing wipes or spray and temperature checks upon arrival, takes care to wrap and change frequently touched surfaces like switches and telephones and also employs sanitizing stations scattered throughout the resort. Additional measures have been established to decrease contact, including adherence to Virginia state guidelines in relation to food and drink services.  

Interior of the Mäntylä House at Polymath Park, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright | Courtesy of Pat Mahoney

Who would have thought that one of the finest places to admire architecture would be the foliage-filled highlands of western Pennsylvania? Yet the four, historically fascinating houses of Polymath Park achieve just that. Each house is the realization of a Frank Lloyd Wright design and the embodiment of his brand of organic architecture, melding man-made structures with their natural surroundings. Park director Heather Papinchak described the experience as an immersion into “architecture, nature and history,” while staying true to the intentions of Wright’s designs: “Preservation is our main goal and allowing the guests to experience the house as they were meant to be enjoyed.”

Rigorous disinfecting and spraying between guests keep the park clean and ready for newcomers and to minimize interactions between staff and guests. While temporarily on hold before, house tours, outdoor dining and takeout have recommenced this month.

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Amid the calamity of the times, basking in the tranquility of nature is certainly one effective way to give yourself the vacation you crave — and safely, too. Whether you’ve said ciao to your summer plans to Venice or au revoir to your aspirations for Paris, plenty remains to be explored right at home, if you’re willing to roadtrip your way there. 

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