Whilst many glamping websites catagorise staying in cabins, huts, chalets and bungalows as ‘glamping’, I disagree. The term ‘Glamorous Camping’ or ‘Glamping’ originated from traditional canvas tent camping and was simply an upgraded idea with the addition of a few luxuries, like private bathrooms (bliss!), proper bedding and a little less fold-out furniture. I thoroughly respect the idea of real camping and roughing-it in the wild, I just personally prefer a few modern day luxuries to surround me, but don’t get me wrong, I still feel all camping, glamorous or otherwise should be enjoyed under canvas.
Now while there are many wonderful canvas glamping sites in good ol’ Blighty itself, nothing is quite as wonderful as Tropical Glamping and not much gets more tropical than glamping in the South Pacific with the twinkling stars above you and the Polynesian blue stretching out below. One of the best places to truly immerse yourself in nature and get off the well-beaten tourist track is the award winning Ikurangi Eco Retreat in Rarotonga in the Cook Islands. Hidden away from the usual tourist trail which lies right around the coast of this beautiful Pacific Island, this retreat lies in the lush-green hinterland of Rarotonga, overlooked by the towering volcanic peak of one of Rarotonga’s tallest mountains, Mt Ikurangi. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not an all-day drive to reach this hidden idyll, just a mere few hundred metres inland from the lagoon and suddenly you’ll be met with the real Rarotonga; the locals’ simple bungalows; taro plantations and wandering piglets and surprisingly friendly stray dogs which meander happily across the roads.
The retreat itself is run by native islander Luana Scowcroft and her English husband Matt Scowcroft who have loving created this tranquil eco-haven from their passion for the environment after time spent working for various environmental NGOs in NZ and the Cook Islands. Creating the retreat was also an impressive feat in itself as arranging for the beautiful luxury tents to be delivered took almost a year as the first set were lost at sea! Once the retreat opened and word of mouth grew, the resort hasn’t looked back and you need to book early to ensure they can squeeze you in.
Once here, you’re met with everything that goes with camping, just with a wonderful tropical twist – instead of the scent of freshly cut grass or hay, here you’re met with the scent of delicious mangoes and instead of tents pitched in a field of Oak trees and buttercups, here you’re surrounded by tropical swaying palms and pretty hibiscus flowers. Like with all camping there is still a dashing or two of rain but pleasantly here it’s warm and the long hours of Pacific sunshine more than make up for it. And best of all, you have the place almost to yourself, if you chose a resort on the water’s edge by the lagoon you would be fighting with throngs of tourists, whereas here it’s pretty much just you and nature.
So to the accommodations, this beautiful retreat offers four Luxury Safari Tents and their more exclusive Ariki Safari Tent. The Luxury Safari Tents are perched on private timber decks overlooking the retreat and the Takitumu mountain ranges. The tents offer a spacious and furnished open-air living room, bedrooms with king size beds complete with luxury linens; private ensuite with modern composting toilet and private hot water outdoor shower (you haven’t tried Tropical Glamping till you’ve had a hot shower under the stars!), fully screened windows, as well as plenty of home comforts including: power points for charging electronics, safe, hairdryer, waffle robes, tea and coffee making facilities, a bar fridge and a wonderful daily tropical breakfast delivered right to your door. In addition to all of this the Ariki Safari Tent, perfect for those celebrating a honeymoon or anniversary, features a more luxurious and stylish twisted wood décor and an open-air, claw-foot bath tub to allow you to bathe under the stars with a glass of champagne… and your loved one of course!
As well as the luxurious accommodations, there’s plenty of space to allow you to re-engage with your spiritual side in this tropical lush-green haven and the team organises yoga classes for those that are interested. She’s also happy to arrange excursions to Day Spas, the Whale Centre and to the cross-island walk and in keeping with the retreat’s eco principles you can also use their bicycles free-of-charge to explore the island under your own steam. Should you wish to visit the people-pleasing white sandy beaches these islands are famous for, they are just a short drive away or you can take a more adventurous trek or drive up into the mountains.
So if you fancy trying some Tropical Glamping; living beneath lush-green palms and mango trees for a few days in some of the best canvas tents the South Pacific has to offer (especially the one with the claw-foot bath tub) then set your heart on a visit to the Ikurangi Eco Retreat, it won’t disappoint. But you don’t have to take my word for it as the retreat is also a finalist in the Cook Islands Tourism Awards which are being judged next week and I have a sneaking suspicion they’ll do pretty well!
Phone: +682 25288
Disclosure: Most reviews are sponsored by the proprietor or brand being appraised. All opinions remain our own & are in no way influenced.