In the pandemic, camping has become more popular than ever, with trailers flying off the lot and campgrounds booking up months in advance, but perhaps the biggest trend in the industry is glamping.
Urban River Adventures is hoping to take advantage of that popularity with its new glamping resort southwest of Edmonton.
Founder Steve Capp said the location is ideal, on the banks of the North Saskatchewan River, less than an hour from the big city.
“We’re upstream from Devon. There’s great islands out here, there’s beautiful scenery, the water is crisp and clear.”
The resort has two levels, one that’s higher up and more easily accessible with picture-perfect views of the river valley, while the lower section puts guests right on the waterfront.
“This year we’ve got 128 acres to explore. There’s so many hiking trails, there’s ravines, there’s beaver dams,” Capp explained.
It’s a big shift for Urban River Adventures, which used an island only accessible by boat as its landing pad last summer.
The location was exclusive, but challenging logistically.
“We had over 4,000 guests out to the island. It was amazing. We had great reviews, people really loved it. But at the end of the season we had to tear everything down, and that was really frustrating and non-productive as a business,” Capp explained.
With a more permanent location, he’s doubling the available accommodations to keep up with demand.
Guests can stay in a cabin, geodome, or tree-tents suspended in the air.
Capp says the experience is like backcountry camping without the hassle.
“We’re offering that type of experience and that type of disconnection with all the comforts of home,” he said.
“You’ve got queen- and king-sized beds. Everything is fully furnished, ready to go. You don’t have to go out and buy all your own equipment and plan out your trip.”
The resort will also feature a free hot tub and wood fired sauna for guests. Additionally, they can purchase adventure outings.
“We’re offering jetboat tours, we’re offering kayaking, paddle boarding, tubing on the river.”
Capp is also putting an emphasis on being environmentally responsible.
“This year we’re going to educate our guests on leaving no trace again, and also using compostable toilets: how to use them, how to set them up. And solar power, we’re putting solar panels on 50 per cent of our accommodations.”
The glamping experience comes with a lot of camping supplies, like cooking utensils and bedding, but Capp said the clothing guests bring is also critical.
“People do need to bring good shoes, raingear. Be prepared for the weather.”
Construction on the resort is underway, with the first geodome expected to go up next week.
Urban River Adventures is set to open May 15 and most weekends are already booked up, a testament to the interest in glamping.