Holidays in Nature: Camping With a Touch of Glam

Nature is good for us: it’s a proven antidote to stress. A growing body of research links nature to physical benefits, from lowered stress, boosted energy and better immunity to improved mental health, including natural highs and happiness.

For most us, we don’t need a study to tell us that even a trip to our backyard will do to feel the benefits of fresh air and blue skies.

Or perhaps a trip to somewhere else? Holidays pretty much go along with the same list of health benefits as nature. They are an antidote to everyday life, an escape into the idyll of having quality time to ourselves.

Now put the two together. Holidays in nature mean that these countless benefits skyrocket. Forbes reported that some booking agents had experienced a 500% rise in bookings for camping in certain areas this past year. While we could quickly judge and say it’s because we’ve spent a year home-high and income-low, this is a continuation of a trend. Over the past decade and a half in Croatia alone, the number of campsites grew by 50%.

With an aura of spontaneity and a dash of sustainability which some other accommodation options lack, holidays in nature – whether in treehouses, tents, tipis, campers or bungalows – attract eco-travellers, multigeneration families, hipsters, adventurers as well as busy business folk. Millennials perceive camping as a chance to spend active time outdoors, parents as ‘edutainment’ for their children and the silver generation enjoys road trips as a way of soaking up the beauty of the world at their own pace.

Given this widespread popularity, one can’t help but wonder when and how all this began. Who on Earth was the first to throw a piece of cloth over some poles and call it a shelter?

The name of the ingenious inventor remains unknown, but the mammoth-bone base uncovered in Moldova suggests the event happened as early as 40,000 BC. By the Roman era, calf- and goat skin-covered tents were in massive use. Their easy assembly enabled armies to quickly set up bases during conquests. During the Ottoman Empire, tents were the weave of entire mobile cities, complete with the sultan’s palace – extravagantly outfitted and adorned in the finest silk and embroidery.

It took a while for the recreational use of tents to catch on. In 1878, London tailor Thomas Hiram Holding, “the father of modern camping”, set out to take his four friends on a cycling-camping trip around Ireland. He designed some lightweight gear for the trip, and later described the journey in his book Cycle and Camp in Connemara. The feedback led him to establish the Camping and Caravanning Club in 1901. At its inception, the Club counted 13 members (going onto 300,000 today).

Over the coming century, the popularity of camping grew but its claims to fame changed over time. In the early 1900s, affluent Brits and Americans frequented African safaris but wanted to retain the comforts of their homes while experiencing the wilderness. So their tents were elaborate and luxurious, with floors covered in Persian rugs and chefs on call.

In the 1920s and 30s, camping went hand in hand with the trends of healthy living and outdoor recreation. During the post-war eras, it provided an escape from demolished cities into the soothing serenity of nature. Finally, after WWII, camping developed the reputation which would stick with it for the rest of the century, the one of a thrifty holiday option.

But the new millennium brought camping back to its plush origins. The window of opportunity grew out of the modern traveller’s desire to escape the busy urban setting and return to nature, whether to unwind or explore and be active. But contemporary travellers also seek contemporary creature comforts, which gave rise to the new-old version of camping – luxury camping.

Luxury camping dolls up traditional camping, making it appealing to those who like the idea of staying in nature, but are not too keen on wet tents and shared facilities. Replacing those with stylishly designed units which offer privacy and five-star amenities, luxury camping also packs great service and many optional activities, turning the camping experience into one of a stay in an outdoor hotel.

At Valamar, we too have evolved with the times. Our premium camping resorts are swish little corners of the world featuring an abundance of fun, activity and opportunities to maximise all the benefits of vacationing in nature. Like in any beautiful town in Dalmatia or Istria, their pulsating heart is the piazza, a lively square lined with shops, from a bakery, cheese store and wine bar, to clothing and footwear stores.

Events like concerts and performances are often staged on our piazzas under open skies, a fun way to spend your leisurely evenings. Situated all along the Adriatic coast, our camping resorts showcase pristine nature, but also a plethora of entertainment options, from beaches with water sports, children’s playgrounds and outdoor cinemas to fitness programmes, sports tournaments, massages and gourmet dining.

Whether it’s the twister slide and inflatable rings at Aquamar Istra, the premium playrooms at Maro Club in Lanterna Premium Camping Resort, or sports and entertainment programmes like treasure hunts and Zumba, fun times never stop for children at Valamar camping resorts. The programmes are age-appropriate; while the little ones have their Kids’ Clubs, the slightly older ones can hang out in parent-free zones for teens.

The adults can use the ‘me-time’ suddenly on their hands to indulge in a range of restorative treatments available at Balance Mediterranean Spas. These wellness oases fuse medicinal Adriatic herbs with a menu of rituals for perfect unwinding – from massages and facials to soothing sauna time. Guests can also get active, perhaps doing light morning exercise in the daily Stay Fit programme, competitive sports at the various courts in V Sport Parks or any of the adrenaline-boosting water sports. Given Croatia’s splendid outdoors, there are always many opportunities to discover various biking or hiking trails both inside and outside the camping resorts.

The parts of everyday living that remain essential even on vacation, such as eating, are made easy with the new Valfresco Direkt service: a web shop for delivery of homemade dishes and groceries from small and carefully selected local producers. You name it: from fruit and vegetables, local cheeses, meat, olive oils, wines, craft beers, freshly prepared ready-made dishes and groceries, many of the products available through Valfresco Direkt can’t be found elsewhere. Delivered straight to your pitch or camping home on a daily basis, Valfresco Direkt makes camping life a breeze. The stellar choice of restaurant options make eating out a real delight, too. From yummy pastas & pizzas at Grano Duro to Mediterranean specialties paired with sea views at Trattoria La Pentola, take your pick between premium dining options.

Our premium camping resorts abound in accommodation options tailored to every kind of a camping soul. Those who wish to add a dash of luxury to their holidays in nature will love the privacy of their very own pool they won’t have to share with anyone, the spacious shaded terrace with outdoor barbecue and the spectacular sea views from the Deluxe Camping Villas. Their smaller doppelgangers are the Premium Camping Suites, with plush interiors and expansive terraces, both infused with serenity and nature’s scents – and of course, prime outdoor relaxation on the terrace with seating and sunbeds. Families should consider Premium Family Camping Homes that can accommodate up to eight people and have a splendid terrace with an outdoor barbecue for those fun, memorable family dinners.

Finally, whether you are a millennial or feel like one, glamping is the best possible way to combine holidaying in nature with five-star luxury. Whether you opt for luxury glamping tents, premium glamping tents with loggia or glamping tents for two persons, you’ll get heaps of glamour added to your camping. The perfect escape, glamping combines inspiring time outdoors with contemporary creature comforts such as soft comfortable beds.

There’s no doubt about it, holidays in nature are on the rise for a reason. In Croatia, this is certainly the best way to soak up the country’s dazzling outdoors. Whether old-school or luxurious, camping here is inextricably linked to rejuvenating sea air, healing seaside promenades, majestic sunsets, pebbly beaches, grand barbecues, falling asleep to the sound of waves and waking up to the chirping of crickets. All in all, they lead to simply feeling better.

Bloggers, journalists, tourist guides, artists, entertainers and all kinds of hospitality experts and enthusiasts have gathered under the ValamArtists handle to lovingly bring you the best out of the Croatian holiday experience. Enjoy the ride!
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