• Tatiana Collier

Glamping out

There was a time when camping was reserved for true lovers of the outdoors. It involved only the essentials for sleeping and eating, and anything bathroom related was whatever the outdoors had to offer.

Over the last decade however, Australia has embraced the luxury camping movement known as “glamping”, which injects some glamour into camping and transforms the outdoor experience into something rustic yet indulgent at the same time.

Husband and wife team Eva and Jarek were quick to jump onto the glamping movement and were one of the first to offer this style of accommodation in Australia.

“Australians are really outdoorsy, and many of us grew up camping as a family pastime. The thing is to go camping, you need a lot of equipment, and most couples don’t want to spend the money or even have the storage space to keep a large amount of camping gear on hand.

“There are also a lot of people out there like me,” says Eva, “who love the idea of being outdoors, but don’t like leaving behind hot showers, proper toilets and comfortable beds.

“Glamping is a solution.”

The couple launched Cosy Tents in 2014 as a weekend project, with just three bell tents, and it all grew from there.

In 2016, Cosy Tents relocated to its permanent home at Yandoit, just outside of Daylesford, and by 2018, had 12 bell tents accompanied by boutique-style communal bathrooms, fully equipped outdoor kitchens, and large campfire spaces.

“Glamping was pretty simply at first. People only expected a nice tent, a real bed, and a bathroom. We wanted to take it a step further. I basically put in everything I would want if I was camping,” says Eva.

It hasn’t taken long for glamping to spread around Australia, which is something Eva and Jarek have embraced. While there are now several glamping options throughout Victoria, the couple has focused on evolving their site to stay ahead of the trends and continue to offer guests something unique.

“Guests expect more, and we want to keep changing too, which means there is always something going on for us - always a mini project on the go.

“We are lucky to have many repeat customers and it’s important to us that each time they come they see how we’ve improved. We like to think we’re growing with our customers. People who have used bell tents for a few years are ready to upgrade.”

While Covid presented a lot of uncertainty for Cosy Tents, it also allowed the couple to review the business and trial some ideas. Their idea to build A-Frame cabins was put on hold, however they came up with a solution that enabled them to test the feasibility of cabins at a much lower risk – the Hybrid tent.

“Essentially we wanted to know, ‘how has glamping changed?’ Yes, a beautiful, shared bathroom is one thing, but what would take glamping to another level?”

The Hybrid tent is a semi-solid structure with floor to ceiling windows, draped over with canvas. Instead of communal bathrooms, the Hybrids have semi-private ensuites that are shared with only one other guest at the site.

“The hybrids are our own, bespoke design that aim to combine a tent with a cabin. The canvas roof still gives guests a feeling of being outdoors, but we’ve been able to add more luxury and privacy to the experience.

“We placed the Hybrids in a prime location at the campsite, overlooking the bell tents, out to the rolling hills and across the surrounding farmland. As we worked on the design, we were constantly trying to find ways to capture every part of our location’s scenery in the experience.

“We also used the quiet time to improve the campsite. The outdoor kitchen and barbeque areas have ramped up, and we built a large undercover communal area for guests to use as a meet and greet space.”

Not surprisingly, the Hybrids proved popular with new and repeat customers, and with Melbourne open and Victorians travelling freely again, Cosy Tents has been busier than ever.

“We’re in a space where we can help people disconnect. The last two years was such a challenging time for everyone for so many reasons. People have been looking to getaway and reset, and I think we’ve been able to offer that.”

Thanks to the ongoing support of regional customers, and the return of Melburnians, Eva and Jarek have revisited their original idea of cabins, with construction underway on the first two.

“Our A-Frame cabins embrace a lot of simplistic elements but are an elite experience, complete with private ensuites. Our first two should be open by mid-year, and a further three will be available early in 2023, all going well.”

Cosy Tents is the ideal getaway for couples and while Eva and Jarek now have their own little family member, they are certain their business will remain an adults-only destination.

“There is definitely a market for family glamping, but we’re going to keep Cosy Tents for the grownups, making sure parents have a place to retreat to whenever they need it.”

Cosy Tents is open all year round, with bookings available every day of the week. Bookings for Cosy Tents can be made via the website and to keep up to date on the latest news and changes, follow Cosy Tents on Instagram and Facebook.

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