Unless your valet is reading this to you, you've probably never heard of "glamping."
Me neither, until my valet read a story to me about it that appeared in USA Today. "Glamping" is shorthand for glamorous camping - a trend that is becoming increasingly popular among the wealthy elite.
According to another story in the Los Angeles Times on the subject, glamping "is on the rise in North America after gaining popularity among wealthy travelers in Africa and England, where luxury tents come with Persian rugs and electricity to power blow dryers."
The L.A. Times story describes what constitutes glamping at the The Resort of Paws Up, a 37,000-acre spread in Montana. The cost is $595 a night, plus an additional $110 per person per day for food. The perks "include a camp butler to build their fire, a maid to crank up the heated down comforter at nightfall and a cook to whip up bison ribeye for dinner and French toast topped with huckleberries for breakfast."
And if you can't endure the elements in your tent with Persian carpets and down duvets, you can always upgrade to a luxury mountain home for $3,460 a night.
According to the story, a nature hike includes Duggan, the butler (why aren't there any butlers named Steve or Jerry?), sending a scout to round up some elk so guests can drive up and look at them.
Another glamping hotspot, Clayoquot Wilderness Resort in British Columbia, boasts of the same type of rustic amenities - at $4,100 a person for a three-day package.
Stating the obvious, Paws Up General Manager Terre Short is quoted as saying that guests "only sorta kinda want to rough it."
I expect he'll get fired for saying "sorta kinda" - unless it's Italian for "graciously."
Call me poor, but I don't understand this "glamping." If you want a gourmet meal prepared by a chef named Antoine, go to the Ritz. If you want to sleep in a fancy bed and be tucked in by a servant, why even pretend you're camping? You're not. The whole fun of camping - and this is what these glampers don't understand - is that it's not like home, or a five-star hotel. Calling that camping is akin to my saying I'm going fishing by checking into a Holiday Inn and sticking my fishing pole in the bathtub. Yes, technically, I'm fishing, but it's not the genuine experience.
I hate to admit it, but I've eaten at some gourmet restaurants. Yet the best breakfast that's ever crossed my lips was prepared in a dirty frying pan over an open fire on the edge of the Alapaha River during a camping weekend years ago. And seeing wildlife not brought to us, baiting our own hooks, cooking our own food, and sleeping among the bugs and critters on a soft sleeping bag on a hard surface cost me a total of about $17.
And the chef's name wasn't Antoine either. It was Stan.
God bless 'em - they don't know what they're missing.