Gatlinburg campground features luxurious Safari Tents from Europe with fresh linens, local soaps, ice water, real beds, and even air conditioning.
(WBIR-Gatlinburg) A recreational experience popular in Western Europe has come to East Tennessee.
You'll find it at a campground that's a family business with a new attitude.
"Although the tents are from Europe everything else we try to get local from Gatlinburg," Clarence Dyer explained.
It is Camp LeConte Luxury Outdoor Resort. There's room for fancy RVs but the real attraction? Luxurious Safari Tents.
Owner Clarence Dyer said, "You're not on the ground you're not with the bugs. You get a complete bed with linens. Everything is wrapped in plastic. It's nice and clean. You have blankets. And best of all you have air conditioning for those hot summer nights."
He is in the furniture manufacturing business. He discovered Safari Tents like this in Australia on a business trip and ended up buying these in the Netherlands. He said they're the only ones in the United States.
"It is a European design. It is all made of reclaimed Scandinavian pine. The fabric is TenCate which is a Dutch fabric. It's the fabric that a fireman's jacket is made from so it is fire proof," he said.
Last year he completely remodeled the campground that was built in the 1960s to make it a boutique destination. Now it features a pool and Wi-fi. No mosquito nets. No sleeping bags.
"We have different layouts for different people. Most of them have one queen bed and a bunk bed for a family of four. But we have some with two queen beds so if there is two couples traveling together, then we have some with more beds for larger families," he said.
Think of it as half way between roughing it and relaxing at a hotel.
"People who camp out in the woods with the bears aren't necessarily keen on the idea. If you're used to a five star suite it's not... but for many people it really is an exciting alternate form of lodging," he said.
Campers have even a fancier option just up the hill. They call it the luxury tree house.
"It is a tree house but it has linens. It has towels. It has a bed obviously. It has a sleeping loft for kids mainly. We give you drinks, we give you soaps, and it actually has a full bath in it," Linzy Nicely said.
Linzy Nicley is the on site manager and the owner's daughter. She credits her dad with coming up with a new way to vacation on the edge of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
"There's tons of cabins, chalets, hotel, motel in thos area. Other campgrounds. So we really wanted to do something different. This is different. Who doesn't love staying in a tree house," she said.
She even has a name for this option.
"I call it glamping: glamorous camping."
There are some regular camp sites available, too. The "glamping" options start at about $120 a night.