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The Future of Camping

We retire to our dimly lit tent and peer into the crystal ball to find out what, in our opinion, we might expect for the world of camping and caravanning

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When you think about it, camping (in its most generic form) doesn’t make much sense.Why plan a caravanning adventure, heading off into the wilds of the countryside in adventurous fashion, only to take with you every mod con and home comfort known to man?

Equally, why would anyone voluntarily give up on hard-won achievements like electricity and running water and lose all notions of privacy in the process, in order to sleep under canvas?

Well, like it or not, and for whatever reasons, it is thriving with more and more people opting for a slice of the camping lifestyle. And at Alan Rogers we get to hear about all kinds of campsite; we meet all kinds owners with all manner of ideas; we visit many sites each year and out-do each other with stories of ever more amazing features and facilities. (Have you heard about the Austrian campsite with a rotating pitch that revolves to follow the sun? Well, I won’t start….).

So who are the people visiting these campsites and why do they go there? We have come up with a few profiles of likely suspects who we expect to see more of over the coming few years.

The Comfort Seekers

The French have the right idea when they call campsites ‘hotels de plein air’: open air hotels but, implicitly, with the facilities one would expect of a hotel. We may dream of pitching up in pristine wilderness but the reality is often that the on-site pizzeria-cum-crêperie is very handy. More than that, some campsites have embarked on the ‘more is more’ philosophy and now offer ever-expanding on-site choice in the form of vast aquaparks, 24 hour self service cafeteria, a variety of on-site shops, state-of-the-art sporting facilities, fully equipped spas.

And the holiday itself becomes more appealing to novices – more convenient, more familiar, less of an ordeal, less daunting. ‘One of the reasons camping is growing in popularity is that, thanks to new, high-tech equipment, it’s getting much less gruelling’ says Frank Shaw of the Centre for Future Studies.

Campsites to consider…

Union Lido Vacanze - Venice
A complete holiday village with 5,000 m2 pool, 160 m lazy river, lagoons, shops and even its own golf academy, skating rink and piazza.

Vrijetijdspark Beerze Bulten - Netherlands
A leisure park with incredible indoor aquatic centre and a ‘rabbit hole’ leading to a vast indoor childrens’ playground, theatre and buffet.

In Our View
Some campsites will continue to pursue an unstoppable march of progress, offering bigger, better facilities, wider choice and more ‘features’ which would not traditionally be expected on a campsite.

The Retro Seekers

For some the notion of a camping holiday is born out of nostalgia: ‘Let’s take the kids on a holiday like we used to have when we were kids’. It’s partly a quaint desire to rediscover some simple pleasures, partly a need for reassurance that, although the world is moving faster and faster, some things (campsites in this case) remain refreshingly unchanged and unspoilt. Many families have been camping and caravanning for generations and can trace their touring roots back 50 years or more.

Campsites to consider…

Wareham Forest Tourist Park - Dorset
Peacefully located on the edge of the forest, with choice of differing pitches, providing a charming, rural setting.

Belrepayre Airstream & Retro Camping - Midi-Pyrénées
The Belrepayre Airstream and Retro Campsite only has 12 touring pitches. The owners are enthusiastic Airstream fans, and only allow Airstreams or vans over 30 years old to stay on the site. There are 11 original Airstream caravans from the ’40s to the ’70s available to rent. These are fully equipped for self-catering and are ideal for anybody wanting a real retro camping experience.

In Our View
Nostalgia…as they say, it’s not what it used to be. Of course we all don our rose-tinted spectacles from time to time but the truth of the matter is that, today, it is easy to become jaded by the conveyor belt of new fads, new technologies, new experiences and new holiday destinations. Suddenly an ‘old fashioned’ type of holiday can become appealingly hip and, well, different. For many, camping and caravanning will always be a lifestyle choice but others will increasingly see it as an antidote to the 21st century.

The Chic Seekers

The middle ground between a basic farmer’s field and a conventional, commercial campsite has only recently started to be filled. Boutique camping has made an appearance, often involving all manner of pods, yurts, igloos, huts and cabins, complete with organic linen, proper double beds, fluffy towels and the like. This glamping goes hand-in-in-hand with festival-going, New Age hedonism and a desire to do something a little different on holiday this year. Not mention a desire to be at one with Nature and some very decent bed linen.

Campsites to consider…

Camping les Portes du Beaujolais - Rhône Alpes
A site with a lot to offer including wine tasting, eco lodges, mini railway and lake swimming.

Zmar - Portugal
A highly ambitious site with elaborate eco credentials, impressive infrastructure including spa and large pool, and attractive accommodation.

In Our View
While anathema to the touring purist, glamping is currently very much in vogue and who are we to disapprove? There is a limit to how far mainstream camping can evolve into a truly ‘boutique’ experience but it is certainly catching on around Europe as you read this and we expect this to grow over the next few years.

The Unique Seekers

Some campsites will put on their marketing hats and discover or create their own unique selling point. It may be a unique location, or have an unusual feature. It may be natural or it may be a ‘usp’ which has been actively developed. Having something unique or different to say about themselves helps campsites to stand out from others and those that do it successfully recognise it is a celebration of the quirky, the unusual or the different - as well as being a feature that their visitors actively seek out.

Campsites to consider…

Komfort-Campingpark Burgstaller - Austria
High quality site featuring toilets with TV while a pirate ship stands guard, its guns rolling out and firing every hour.

Cambrils Park Resort - Spain
Close to the wonderful Cambrils beaches, this is a fantastic holiday destination for the whole family. The kids will love the Caribbean jungle pool, with elephants and dragons.

In Our View
In times of increasing blandness, there is plenty of room for the non-standard and the individual. Camping and caravanning lends itself well to this, with plenty of scope for developing the minority appeal, the unusual and the niche. So expect a polarisation among campsites: there will be more diversity at one level, even if, at another level, there will be increasing uniformity.

The Thrill Seekers

Each year there seem to be more variants on existing sports and outdoor activities, from bird watching to para gliding, from windsurfing to pot holing. ‘Cycling’ used to be a simple, generic catch all description but now it’s not just cycling, it’s also dirt biking, road cycling, downhill cycling, BMX and mountain biking. Similarly it’s not just windsurfing, it’s para surfing and kite surfing and everything in between. Put simply, outdoor sports are growing in popularity and all lend themselves to camping and caravanning.

Campsites to consider…

Camping Le Ty-Nadan - Arzano (Brittany)
Plenty of space here for outdoor activities, including Brittany’s longest zip wire, paintball, mountain biking, canoe excursions, riding and more.

Holiday & Amusement Park Duinrell - Netherlands
As the name suggests, this site is a campsite, themepark and indoor pool complex all-in-one. The pool complex is the largest covered water park in Benelux.

In Our View
These are people who view camping, initially at least, as a means to an end, rather than a lifestyle choice perhaps. And as outdoor sports are enjoying something of a boom we expect to see more people turning to camping and caravanning to facilitate this.

The Luxury Seekers

We're talking luxury camping, glamorous camping. But how glamorous exactly? Well this can vary: it might be a lavishly constructed yurt, with solid wood floor, fur throws, log burner, insulated walls and sprung beds. Or it could be a more straightforward tent with a twist - perhaps raised wooden floors, electric lighting, safari awning and hammocks.

'Glampsites' to consider…

Châteaux dans les Arbres - Dordogne
This is a unique site and a good example of luxury glamping. There are three wooden castles constructed among the tree tops. Each château has been assembled from locally sourced timber and is equipped with TV, WiFi, tea and coffee making facilities, minibar and a terrace with hot tub. 

Huttopia Senonches - Val de Loire
This is a ten-hectare site hidden away in the huge Forêt Dominiale de Senonches. It combines a high standard of comfort with a real sense of backwoods camping. There are also 36 Canadian-style log cabins and tents available to rent and a large, chlorine-free, natural pool to relax in.

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