Forget the tent and hiking gear, you no longer have to rough it to enjoy the great outdoors, thanks to Glamorous Camping also known as "glamping." If you'd like a little more comfort for your wilderness adventures we have good news for you: The Capital Region is the number 10 glamping destination, according to booking site HipCamp.
"We're in the glamping category because we are offering sort of a different experience," said Larissa Phillips, co-owner of Honey Hollow Farmstay in Earlton. "People aren't just coming up to stay in the cottage and do their own thing, we host them."
Phillips and her husband moved to Earlton from Brooklyn about 10 years ago, renovated the foreclosed home on their property and started welcoming visitors who are looking to return to nature, without having to rough it. Phillips says most of their guests come from New York City and the boroughs.
"It's so enjoyable on a very deep level to like, light a fire. I tell people, go in the woods and get kindling. That's what I do," Phillips said. "It's almost like a deep primal need to do these very very basic things and if you have children, to show your children how to do it."
Honey Hollow Farmstay features a wood stove, full kitchen, full bathroom, two bedrooms, and a loft area for sleeping. Phillips says they're also planning to add a large tent to the property in the woods with a platform bed, hopefully next year.
But one of the most unique features of the property? It's a farm. The couple grows a vegetable garden in the summertime, which guests can harvest from and has apple trees in the fall. There are two ponies on-site, two horses, goats, sheep, hens, roosters and chicks, and the family dog, Blue.
Guests can interact with all of the animals, find fresh eggs and more.
"We have this really amazing pony, Bugsy, who is really sweet and adorable and my [teen] daughter gives lessons on him to the kids," Phillips said.
The lessons on Bugsy are a small extra fee, but Phillips says she has guests come back with their kids year after year just to see him.
"I have parents who tell me, you know, the kids have to write an essay for school, and they're write about Bugsy," Phillips said. "[The parents say] the teachers will ask, 'Do you really have a pony?'"
And Phillips says while Bugsey and their other animals are a big draw, there is more to do. Down the street, visitors can walk to a local microbrewery, and Phillips says Greene County and Coxsaxie in particular, have really blossomed since the family moved to the area.
She says the day they closed on the property, she told the realtor, "All I need is a coffee shop," and they laughed at her because a decade ago, there wasn't one. Now, Phillips says, there are several in town with amazing coffee options.
And while Honey Hollow has a lot to offer, their farm stay isn't the only option for travelers in the Capital Region. HipCamp, which is the largest online marketplace to book glampsites, says searches for the Capital Region are up 150 percent since 2018.
"What we see in Albany is people are looking for things like boating, hiking, biking, and snow sports," said Jessica Barron, head of content and storytelling at HipCamp. "It's a beautiful area of the country where you can get outdoors in any season ... and they can have heat, go under a blanket, read a book, and feel nice and cozy."
Barron says many glamping sites have several beds, making it a great activity for families or groups — even in the long upstate New York winter.
"Whether you want to 'Campsgiving,' 'Glampsgiving' or you might see on Instagram, 'Friendsgiving' and go with your friends rather than your family, you can take them all," Barron said. "You can bring everybody and it's all about connecting. Sometimes people complain this season is stressful or it's all about materialism, but we think it's really about experience and connecting."
And Phillips agrees.
"What we've lost in the last 50 years, in terms of farming and connection to the land, is something people are really feeling now," Phillips said. "And so that experience of coming up here and pulling a carrot out of the garden or picking an apple is amazing and I think that's what's really satisfying to people."