Business Insider: Glamping In An Airstream Is Better Than Any Hotel

Sep 13, 2021

Business Insider's Brittany Chang has been reporting on the increased interest in RVs for the past year. She recently set out to experience RVing herself at AutoCamp, a luxury campground that has six locations across the United States. 

It seems as if almost everyone I follow on social media decided to go camping or road-tripping during our COVID-plagued summer. 

I was feeling a bit left out, so I decided to multitask and do both at the same time. During the peak of the 2021 summer travel season, I visited AutoCamp, a luxury campground chain, at its location near Yosemite National Park in California. But unlike most "glamping" sites that offer the conventional canvas tents or cute cabins, I stayed inside one of AutoCamp's Airstream trailers that had been converted into a hotel room. The experience was so enjoyable that I've recommended the chain's plush glamping quarters to all of my friends, including the avid campers who prefer slumbers in sleeping bags over mattresses. 

Think of AutoCamp as the halfway point between RVing and camping. AutoCamp specializes in the accommodation I stayed in: Airstream trailers that have been converted into hotel suites with a bedroom, kitchenette, living room, and bathroom. 

The company used to convert old trailers. Now it uses custom trailers directly from Airstream, which also doubles as an AutoCamp investor, Tim McKeough reported for The New York Times. But if you're more interested in traditional glamping accommodations, the chain also has other options like tents and cabins. 

AutoCamp has two locations in California — Yosemite National Park and the Russian River — and one on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. It has already announced plans to open three more locations: in the Catskill Mountains in New York, Zion National Park in Utah, and Joshua Tree National Park in California. 

Despite this planned expansion, the COVID-19 era has proved to be difficult for the AutoCamp business. Last year, the Yosemite location had to close three times: twice because of COVID-19 and once because of an encroaching forest fire, Jason Brannan, a general manager at AutoCamp, told Insider. 

But as RV sales and camping both continued to boom throughout the pandemic, so did the public's interest in AutoCamp. This year, the Yosemite site was closed in January and didn't reopen until February 1. But by the end of the first quarter, AutoCamp had been "doing well enough as if it had been open the whole year, bouncing back even better than budgeted for," Brannan said. 

During the months the Yosemite location has been able to stay open, the company has "exceeded expectations" despite challenges with staffing and lack of corporate group bookings, Brannan said. 

"Now we're trying to keep up with how many guests there are," Brannan said. "We don't have enough suites to keep up with the pace of the reservations at some point." 

The Airstream trailer is AutoCamp's most iconic accommodation, but its cabins and tents are also often booked up. "People book AutoCamp because they want to come to AutoCamp, not because they need a place to stay," he said.

View the rest of the article from Business Insider and images of AutoCamp and the Airstream trailer here

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