Whilst many glamping websites categorize 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.
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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 meters 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 a passionate hospitality couple, Vicki and Alan, from New Zealand with a wealth of personal experience in running a tourism operation. After falling in love with the Cook Islands on holiday, they returned on a three-year work contract and successfully managed one of Rarotonga’s leading tourist attractions. When they saw Ikurangi Eco Retreat for sale, they simply knew that this was a venture they should invest in as its principles and values are so special and they believe it is truly a business that ‘gives back’, not only to the economy of the local people, but also to the pristine environment, protecting it for generations to come.
With an Executive Chef background, Alan is excited by the tropical fruit abundant on the property and fresh seasonal produce is a feature of their daily complimentary breakfasts. With healthy, flavoursome options and something different most every day of your stay, Alan loves to be creative using products like chia seeds, buckwheat, quinoa, sago and tapioca to produce a wholesome breakfast that sets you up for the day.
Vicki and Alan feel privileged to call the Cook Islands home and love to share the warm “Kia Orana” spirit with their guests and ensure they have the most magical time on their vacation. Offering you space to unwind, tips to help you explore, and the perfect tropical setting for your next getaway, Ikurangi Eco Retreat really is the perfect place from which to discover all that the Cook Islands has to offer.
Once at the retreat, you’re met with a luxurious twist on ‘glamping’ – 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.
As 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; a private ensuite with a 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 bathtub to allow you to bathe under the stars with a glass of champagne… and your loved one of course!
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 bathtub!), 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!
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