Glamping, for the uninitiated, is the annoyingly buzzy term for glamorous camping, a concept that involves large teepee-like tents tricked out with comfortable beds and feather duvets, wi-fi and electricity. It’s painfully Portlandia-esque, and I was a bit embarrassed to admit to friends and family that I was trying it. I’m a semi-seasoned camper who owns a heavy-duty tent and well-worn hiking boots. Feather duvets aren’t usually on my packing list.
But I was also excited. After all, the only thing conceivably better than camping is camping when somebody else does all the heavy lifting. Never before have I embarked on a camping weekend with less than a car full of supplies, but here I was, pulling into the parking lot at the Shawnee Inn and Golf Resort near the Delaware Water Gap (just under two hours from Center City) with nothing but a half-empty duffle bag. I felt woefully unprepared.
The resort reminded me of the one in Dirty Dancing: rustic (the property is surrounded by thick woods and looks out on the Delaware River); historic (the sprawling 103-room lodge dates back to 1911 and, under famed bandleader Fred Waring’s ownership 30 years later, became a woodsy playground for the likes of Ed Sullivan, Bob Hope and Lucille Ball); and undeniably summer-camp-like (each night, guests gather at the bonfire on the front lawn for s’mores).
I was headed for the Riverside, one of the resort’s two glamping sites — a duo of large canvas tents pitched atop private decks. Each tent is equipped with a queen-size bed and daybed, area rugs, a coffee maker (with all the fixings), side tables, lamps and more, and they’re situated near communal bathrooms with showers. (Towels are included.) They’re perched right on the inn’s grounds in the midst of the resort’s action — handy if, say, you want room service, but not the best choice for peace and quiet. For something a bit more remote (read: no room service here), book one of the four new Island tents, which can only be accessed via canoe. But you’re not left to totally rough it on your own: The resort sends an attendant who tends to the fire and cooks you a hearty breakfast in the morning.
During the day, you can take advantage of Shawnee’s amenities (golf, tastings at the on-site craft brewery, spa treatments) or go off-site for a little adventure. I took a leisurely three-mile kayak trip ($42 a person) on the glassy river—bald eagles galore!—and hiked along the Appalachian Trail with two guides from the resort’s rec staff leading the way (free!).
When the sun went down, I was eager to make use of my glampsite. Once the fire got going (note: the resort even provides the firewood, so there’s no need to scavenge), I sat back, relaxed, and looked at the stars, far more visible from this Poconos perch than from my South Philly patio. What could make this better? I thought to myself. And then it hit me: a glass of champagne.
Luckily, all I had to do was ring the front desk.
Field Guide: Delaware Water Gap Weekend Itinerary
Stay: The Shawnee Inn and Golf Resort, 100 Shawnee Inn Drive, Shawnee on Delaware; tents start at $154 a night.
Play: Rent a kayak or canoe via the resort, or, to experience nature without the sweat equity, sign up for Shawnee’s pontoon-boat tour of the Delaware (starting at $35 a person).
Eat: There’s a stellar weekend brunch at Deer Head Inn, and be sure to grab dinner at the Minisink Hotel, a no-frills biker bar that serves up terrific sandwiches (get the pulled pork) and burgers. Finish the night at the resort’s on-site craft brewery, which pours generous $2 tastings.
This article first appeared in Philadelphia magazine’s September 2016 issue.