I was thrilled with my recent stay at Backland, a luxury glamping eco-resort, and so I want to share with you about glamping what to expect from chef-prepared meals to finding tranquility in the Great Outdoors.
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So have you ever invited a friend or family member to go camping? And their response was, “Meh, not so much. Camping isn’t my thing.”
Well, I’m here to tell you, Backland is the place where your two souls can unite:
- Sleep in a tent…but this luxury tent is ooh la la!
- Roast marshmallows over the campfire…after a chef-prepared feast in the Backland restaurant.
- Crawl into the sack…under hotel linens and a fluffy comforter. (And ensuite bathroom.)
The stars are amazing here in the middle of nowhere. And the only sounds to hear are the geese honking as they land in the lake out front and the happy sigh of your glamping partner as they turn out the bedside lamp.
“What?! A lake in Arizona?” you might ask. Well, come along with me on my most recent adventure, and I’ll show you!
Where are glamping resorts?
Self-help and mindfulness gurus say that “it’s about the journey, not the destination,” and I have to say that the journey to Backland, a glamping eco-resort, was, indeed, a rewarding part of my latest adventure. The windy roads through tall pine trees and the turns onto remote Forest Service roads made me feel as if I were driving into the middle of nowhere. (I’d printed the directions from the Backland website and had no problem finding my way into the hinterlands.)
The journey helped get me into a peaceful, relaxed state as I slowed down, took long breaths of pine-spiced air from my open window and watched for Arizona wildlife along the way. (More on what animals I saw out my windshield later.) We could all use more getaways from our hectic itineraries.
Glamping resorts are located all over the US, from the Smokey Mountains to Yosemite. The nation’s newest glamping resort is located 20 miles southeast of Williams, Arizona, in the Kaibab National Forest. Only 90 minutes from Grand Canyon National Park, the glamping resort makes a good launchpad for day trips to the Grand Canyon, Sedona or Flagstaff.
This destination promised to be more than the journey
With my elbow stuck out the window and the wind in my hair, fence posts and the Kaibab National Forest trees flashed by, making me feel that I was in another world.
But when the trees parted, making way for the prairie, I slowed to make the righthand turn into Backland and drove through the barbed wire fence gate. It was there that I knew that the destination was someplace special. Inevitably, the destination—in this case—promised to be more than the journey.
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New glamping resort built on the footprint of a historic ranch
Backland is a new glamping resort built on the footprint of a historic homestead ranch wholly surrounded by national forest land. Sustainable-minded owners carefully planned and built the eco-resort with minimal impact on the land. Sustainability and low impact are part of glamping trends 2022.
“We’re maximizing the opportunity to feel like you are in a remote location,” owner Jeremy Budge told me later. The luxury glamping resort opened on September 1, 2022.
I parked at the lodge, remembering that I could use the contactless check-in process. But I wanted to introduce myself and get to know the people that ran this backwoods operation. Next to my parking space, a young woman gathering kindling for the evening campfire looked up from under a tall Ponderosa pine tree that emitted a smell like nutmeg.
Glamping what to expect: Complimentary electric vehicle charging stations
“Hi, I’m UNSTOPPABLE Stacey Wittig, checking in to do a story about Backland,” I said, standing next to two complementary electric car charging stations.
“The receptionist is in the lodge,” she greeted me, pointing to the entrance.
I walked from the stone-lined gravel parking lot over a woodchip walkway to the building of contemporary architecture. Thoughtful landscaping of native plants welcomed me.
Floor-to-ceiling glass brings the outdoors in
When I first stepped over the threshold into the lodge, a dark, modernistic fireplace with a light, rough concrete hearth caught my eye. It rises in the middle of the story-and-a-half building that houses the reception area, gathering spaces, chef’s kitchen and dining area. Three walls of floor-to-ceiling windows bring the outdoors in.
Nicole, the receptionist, welcomed me to Backland. “Out on the beach are kayaks and beach toys that are free to use. Here inside, we have binoculars for watching the waterfowl, a telescope for stargazing and a library of books and games.” I was beginning to understand that maybe a two-night stay would not be enough to experience all there was to be had at Backland.
“I believe that you are in Tent 5,” she said. “You should have received a text with your room code, but if not, I can give it to you,” Nicole smiled. I loved it that I wouldn’t have to worry about keys while glamping. The keyless entry was secured by a five-digit code.
Glamping what to expect in Tent 5, my Sky Suite
From the contemporary lodge, I drove to Tent 5 and parked at my own stone-lined parking space. The gravel crunched under my feet as I unloaded my 4Runner. Again I noticed the newly planted landscaping, which gave a nice touch to the “campsite.” My tent, custom-built and designed by Jeremy, was set on a polished concrete slab. Neighboring tents were 75 feet away, so I didn’t feel like I was in a campground with people camped all over each other. I liked the privacy outdoors and couldn’t wait to see what was inside.
A sneak peek inside a glamping tent
My private glamping tent was as large as any upscale hotel room. The minimalistic design incorporated natural fiber rugs, baskets and natural wood. Stained and sealed concrete floors gave a clean look to the space enveloped in cream-tinted canvas. An abundance of natural light came from the 8-foot tall windows and 16-foot wide skylight.
The king-sized guest bed is positioned right under the skylight for a ceiling of stars throughout the night. In the morning, the sliding glass doors and wall of windows in front of the bed deliver more of the nature experience. You can lay in bed with your coffee and watch the birds swooping in the meadow.
Unlike typical glamping tents, the canvas in my Sky Suite doesn’t flap in the wind. That’s because of the thoughtful design by owner Jeremy Budge. Instead, natural-stained light oak stays to hold the canvas in place. I appreciated the minimalistic design feature of the black anodized screws against the light oak. They picked up the black used in the 16-foot expansive panoramic windows with walk-out sliding doors, the gooseneck floor lamp, the bathroom trim, and dressing mirrors.
The spacious ensuite bathroom boasts a walk-in shower, conservation sink faucet and low-flow toilet, all of which reduce water consumption without impacting the guest experience. In addition, I loved the Nebia water-saving showerhead by Moen so much that I bought one for my bathroom when I got home. The state-of-the-art design uses atomization, breaking water into tiny droplets to create a spa-like sensation while conserving water, which is precious here in Arizona.
Are glamping tents warm?
Glamping tents are warm, especially when they are heated with energy-efficient heat pump technology. The new ThinQ heating and air conditioning units used in Backland glamping tents keep you warm and toasting in the cooler months and cool in the summertime.
The thick ceiling of insulation keeps you warm and has the added benefit of insulating you from the sounds of your neighbors. This is glamping what to expect from glamping is a unique combination of comfort control and open views of remote locales.
Gourmet dinner at Backland, the glamping resort
French-trained Chef Jarrett Parten introduced me to two dishes I’d never sampled. I was fortunate enough to dine in the Backland lodge on two occasions and was surprised each time by French preparations.
Sabayon, a custard dessert
The first was sabayon, the French name for the Italian dessert zabaglione, made of egg yolk, sugar and wine. However, sabayon is made with Marsala wine, while the zabaglione ingredient is typically different.
The second French creation new to me was dauphinoise potatoes cooked in cream. Landa, the chef’s wife and my amiable server, revealed that her daughter loved them so much that they were on the menu for her wedding reception.
I enjoyed breakfast and dinner at Backland, but I want to return once they have their liquor license to sample Chef Jarrett’s wine selections. I’m sure they will be fabulous.
As a water conservation measure, the dining room has no dishwasher. Instead, Backland saves hundreds of gallons of water daily using compostable plates, napkins and flatware. The dishes made from fallen palm leaves, forks, spoons and knives are recycled in the compost.
Expect an immersive experience at Backland
The immersive experience at Backland creates a feeling that you are IN nature, free from the negative aspects of camping. Depending on your tent selection, you’ll wake up with unobstructed views of the forest, prairie and the San Francisco Peaks, or lake.
You’ll rise warm, dry and comfortable out of fresh linens. And what’s more, the hotel-like bathroom is only a few steps away. Backland is genuinely a place where glamour and camping live as one.
Hi, I’m Stacey
UNSTOPPABLE Stacey Travel is a travel blog focused on immersive travel that highlights food, wine and the spirituality of place. I also occasionally write about life as a Camino de Santiago pilgrim. I hope you enjoy what I post here. Feel free to leave comments! Read more…
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As is common in the travel industry, UNSTOPPABLE Stacey was provided with accommodations, meals, and other compensation for the purpose of review. While it has not influenced this review, the author believes in full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest.
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