Camping is undeniably one of the most awesome things ever.
When I was a kid, camping with my dad was always on the more extreme end of “roughing it”. According to dad, tents were an unnecessary indulgence. Meals were mostly dehydrated powder and a tube of Sweetened Condensed Milk.
If there was a track made by anything bigger than a wombat then you weren’t really “in the bush” yet.
“Wild and free, exploring mountaintops and canyons, with an excuse to use my shiny red Swiss Army Knife, for a young bloke, there really was nothing better.”
So I struggled to understand people that didn’t share my enthusiasm. How could you shudder at the mere thought of spending your vacation tramping through thick scrubland, finding a comfy looking cave with a nice rock for a pillow, and learning, through an eye-watering process of trial and error, the subtle art of finding the softest, most absorbent foliage to use as toilet paper.
It wasn’t until much later in life that I made an amazing discovery.
As awesome as camping is, you know what else is pretty damn sweet? Luxury hotels.
Hotels are freaking amazing. I remember walking into my first one in London, tired after a long flight. The TV said hello to me. By name. 😮 There was a chocolate waiting for me on the bed. The bed itself was roughly the same size as my first apartment. I called downstairs for a meal containing zero freeze-dried ingredients and took a hot bath.
“Later that night, as I sat fondling the 4-ply, quilted, lotioned, perfumed, ultra-soft toilet paper, I finally got it. I understood what made people go for 5 stars over sleeping under actual stars.”
But fear not Luxury Lovers and Wild Adventurers alike! For too long, my friends, we have been crowbarred into either one category or the other. But no longer. For now, thanks to people like Cameron Arnold of Flash Camp, who DSM was lucky enough to catch up with recently, we can finally have our cake and eat it too.
Flash Camp is Australia’s “leading provider of temporary luxury camping accommodation and services”. If you’ve been to a music festival, wedding or special event you may have spotted them. They’re literally popping up all over Australia right now with their special take on comfortable, bespoke accomodation in the great outdoors.
DSM: Who was the genius behind the idea of a pop-up hotel?
CA: I was the genius beyond poaching the idea from the UK; Cameron Arnold, CEO and Founder of Flash Camp. Seeing what was happening with Glamping and pop-up hotel’s at festivals in the UK, I “pitched” the concept to my colleagues and friends in the Festival and tourism scenes in Australia and there was definite interest.
“The concept was always about creating a hotel experience within a camping structure and from the majority of feedback we receive, we have been successful in doing so.”
DSM: In our era of iPhones and xboxes and whatever, it’s kinda surprising that camping is still a thing. Why do you think people are still drawn to get out into nature?
CA: The true essence of camping is about connecting with friends, family or fellow travellers away from the distractions of the normal day to day. I think people still want this, but they want to do it in comfort and still have some of the luxuries of the normal day to day.
“There is still a whole generation that would have camped with their families when they were growing up and have really great memories of it, so they would like to create this for their own kids.”
The thing is that the true “camp sites” are being over-run with cabins, or developed as holiday letting sold through Air BNB.
DSM: When people think ‘camping’ they probably get a pretty different idea in their heads than what they’ll encounter in a typical Flash Camp setup, right?
CA: Yes, as we grew we always under-promised and over-delivered, adding something new each time.
“Extras we have added into our Flash Camp setups over the years include wi-fi, powder room, day spa, massage, cocktail bar, coffee cart, breakfast buffet and restaurant.”
Obviously this has depended on the site and the requirements of our clientele, but we like to keep improving and pushing the boundaries. We introduced a ‘Deluxe Tent’ at Splendour in the Grass this year which had its own private ensuite, air conditioner and mini bar. It worked so well the guests requested to re-book for the next Splendour.
DSM: Coming back to a Flash Camp tent after a long day at a festival must be the best feeling ever. How do people describe the experience of a night in a Flash Camp?
CA: It has been a case of once you’ve done a festival at Flash Camp, you can never turn back. It is the best way to stay at a festival, without question.
“We become their sanctuary, away from the dirt and dust, crowds and noise, secure, with friendly staff, clean toilets; they love it.”
DSM: You guys seem to be literally popping up all over Australia at the moment! Where can people find Flash Camps?
CA: We have just done Falls Festival in Byron, and have a site in Byron which we are working with. We have a few sites on the NSW South Coast available now including the beautiful Coolendel, and are available in the Northern Territory through one of our licensed operator’s. We would love to get established in other locations with licensees, as the demand is absolutely out there and with such a strong brand and following it would be great to expand further. Our next big event is Bluesfest over Easter, though we are nearly sold out.