I love the outdoors but draw the line at camping. The bugs, the sleeping on the earth, the cooking dinner without my standard kitchen gadgets -- the idea of roughing it in general is just not my speed. My four year old, on the other hand, has been talking about going camping non-stop. This summer started with an obsession for indoor blanket forts where she'd play camping with her dolls and I realized then that I'd need to find some way to offer her the experience of camping without having to explain that mommy is too posh to pitch a tent.
Enter Bingemans, a camping resort located on the Grand River in Kitchener, Ontario, that offers traditional camp sites plus a glamping experience. Yes, GLAM-ping. As in, glamourous camping. Just my cup of tea.
Where You'll Stay: Instead of setting up your own tent or trailer on an empty site, Bingemans' glamping sites include a furnished yurt to sleep in that includes 2 queen beds with linens, a mini fridge, sofas and chairs for seating, and even a chandelier! Plus, it sits on a wood platform, not the grass and has additional electrical outlets around room. Our site had a pretty view of the Grand River, a fire pit, picnic table and some muskoka-like chairs for outdoor lounging. Honestly, I was super impressed when I arrived. We had plenty of space for our family of 4 (me, hubby, our daughter and niece) and I could also see the set-up working for 2 couples or a group of girlfriends. Next time, ladies!
What To Do: What makes Bingemans so perfect for the family are the additional resort amenities. We checked out FunWorx, an indoor play zone for the whole family, Big Splash, the area's largest water park, and KingPin Bowlounge, but they also have Flag Raiders Paintball, Glenridge Golf Course on-site and a few other seasonal features that are perfect to entertain families of all ages. The Kitchener-Waterloo area also boasts a Butterfly Conservatory, canoe and fishing attractions, theatre and more. Even if your kids are a little older than mine, I can't imagine hearing, "Mom, I'm bored."
What To Pack: As the weekend drew near, I have to admit I was a little stressed about what to bring glamping. Grill-friendly foods, bug spray, wet wipes, comfy clothes and blankets were obvious, but I wanted to treat myself to a few extras to make our experience just a little more fab, keeping in mind that I did have 2 kids in tow. For a super simple but decadent dessert by the fire I highly recommend, President Choice's S'mores Kit. I know you can grab all the S'more ingredients separately, but in doing all the grocery shopping for the trip and packing a huge cooler, I appreciated having everything I needed in a box and the chocolate tasted pretty darn good. I also brought a PC picnic blanket along with and loved the fact that it's vinyl on one side but fleece on the other and that it folded up neatly to pack in our beach bag. The kids used it to have picnic lunches and dinners and while playing but I also used it to lounge by the fire just after it rained when I couldn't get the chairs dry. Wine was required and hubby brought Jacob's Creek Muscato. I'm not usually a Muscato girl but enjoyed it with grilled trout burgers I scored at Costco. A few not-so-glamourous things required include disinfectant wipes for the bathrooms. They're a bit of a shock to the system when you leave your relatively pristine yurt. You might also want to bring some sort of bug zapping device to save your body from being ravaged by the 'squitos while you sleep. We wore bug spray to bed and still got covered in bites.
Glamper Style: I know the great outdoors don't require a beauty regime, but I did pack my flat iron because what else would I use the extra outlets in the yurt for besides plugging in my iPod? I pulled off a less than 5 minute natural face of the day using Essence Beauty's "Stays Put No Matter What" products. They really did last through a mad dash in a rainstorm and several hugs from excited, but sopping wet kids. Do note the yurt has zero mirrors so bring your own or you could end up looking a little more done than you planned. For wardrobe I played it very low key and let my yoga gear double as camping clothes. Their moisture wicking properties and breathable fabrics kept me cool and dry. The one time I'll condone yoga wear outside off the mat.
Glamping with the family at Bingemans was a great summer adventure that I don't suspect my daughter and niece will stop talking about soon. I definitely recommend a visit if you're looking to escape the city for a few days without dealing with the cottage country traffic. The summer is winding down quickly and the park was quite full when we visited so do book quickly to avoid disappointment. Rates for Glamping at Bingemans start at $199.95 per night based on 4 people and include unlimited access to the water park and several other amenities.
-- Tamika Auwai is our resident Style Editor, Shopping Enthusiast and Wardrobe Expert.