A few weekends ago, after rousing from a comfortable queen size bed inside a large canvas tent, I woke up to the smell of bacon, freshly brewed coffee, and a roaring fire. The camp guide, after greeting me good morning, asked if I would like a fresh pastry, some fruit, or perhaps a bottle of water: “Sparkling or still? The eggs will be out shortly.” This was glamping, Pennsylvania-style, where feeling secluded comes with free wifi and pampering happens in the wilderness.
The Shawnee Inn and Golf Resort has only recently opened one of its islands in the middle of the Delaware River for accessible-by-canoe-only glamping — short for “glamorous camping” — where visitors paddle 20 minutes downstream to a small wooden dock, with stairs leading up to a lush tree-covered area featuring four glamping tents, two bathrooms, and a “games room” where books and board games are stashed in a large Mongolian tent.
Here, guests can sleep under the stars and roast marshmallows around a campfire without the “roughing it” reality of pitching a tent and sleeping on bumpy ground. There is wine, cold beer and s’mores available during the evenings; hot showers and flushing toilets; electricity (enough to operate the lights provided in the tents and to charge your phone); chairs to sit on around the fire; and a camp attendant at your service, armed with bug spray.
The four tents are set-up in close proximity to each other, about ten feet apart, so getting to know your neighbours around the campfire is half the fun. However, with a mile-long island at your disposal, there is plenty of space to wander for privacy. A large section of the island is actually used for golfing during the day, so a wide tree clearing in the center makes for perfect stargazing opportunities.
Though part of the glamping site’s charm is its isolation and inaccessibility (it takes another 40 minutes of canoeing downstream to reach the mainland for “check-out”), Shawnee Island Glamping is not come and go as you please. Arrival and departure times are itinerary driven, with check-in at 6pm and check-out at 10am. (Hotel staff take care of getting your bags to and from the island). If you stay for two nights, you must leave the island at 10am and wait to take a canoe back at 6pm. So far, according to Shawnee Inn, most visitors stay for one night only. Another note worth mentioning: visitors are not permitted to bring their own food onto the island (bears etc.), so it is advisable to eat dinner before grabbing your canoe at 6pm. However breakfast, alcohol, tea, coffee, snacks and water is provided, and included, in the $149 per person, per night, cost.
As for what to do during your day on the mainland, a tasting of Shawnee Craft Beer (which is sold exclusively onsite) at the Inn’s very own brewery is highly recommended. We sipped pumpkin ale made from fresh pumpkins, and toured the brewery’s back alleys, where the magic happens, for free. The biggest draw of Shawnee, however, is its close proximity to the Pocono Mountains, which offers some of the best hikes on the Appalachian Trail. Or, for those who prefer to continue along a more pamper-centric trail, there is also the Shawnee Spa and Salon.
Photos by Matt Rubin.