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BAR HARBOR, Maine — Despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and its sobering impact on Maine’s 2020 tourism season — including on generally tourist-rich Mount Desert Island — Kampgrounds of America is planning to open its first-ever “glamping” campground on Aug. 1.
Dubbed “Terramor” — combining the latin words for “land” and “love” — the $9.7 million resort is a complete, luxury-oriented rehab of the former KOA-branded Woodlands Campground in the local village of Town Hill. KOA also operates the Oceanside Campground on County Road at the head of Mount Desert Island — which it acquired in 2002, under its flagship brand — but has created a new division for its entry into the growing upscale “glamour camping” market.
KOA began work on the glampground last year and had hoped to open the redeveloped, 45-acre site earlier this summer, but the onset of the pandemic briefly delayed the project, according to Gretchen Chauncey, general manager of the resort. She said “dozens and dozens” of people are at work, including contractors and roughly two dozen staff, in order to be ready for their first guests next weekend.
“These things don’t happen overnight,” she said, adding that the extra time has given the staff time to prepare, to get to know one another and to absorb the culture of the new resort.
Without going into details, Chauncey said bookings for Terramor are “really good.” She said the resort will open with social distancing and other safety measures in place. Staff already are wearing masks indoors, clear plastic partitions have been set up at the bar in the $2.1 million, 4,800 square-foot lodge and picnic tables in group areas such as the resort’s pavilion will be spaced more than 6 feet apart.
Glamping is well-suited for COVID-19 precautions, Chauncey said, because guests have their own quarters and restrooms and, aside from the lodge, there are no common interior spaces where guests will encounter one another, such as hallways or shared bathrooms.
Mount Desert Island and Acadia National Park together make for “a natural place to offer social distancing,” Chauncey said. “There are a bunch of outdoor activities that will appeal to our guests.”
Glamping is designed as a more upscale, luxurious camping experience that typically includes beds with fine linens, electricity and hot water service inside tents, and meals prepared by a classically trained chef. It is a growing market nationally and in Maine, where other luxury “glamping” facilities have opened in Kennebunkport and have been proposed in Surry.
At Terramor, the 64 “tents” are indeed made out of fabric, but the similarity they have to collapsible nylon structures that have to be assembled with short sections of aluminum poles stops there. The canvas structures at the resort have interior bathrooms with showers and toilets, enough power outlets to power multiple electronic devices all at once, remote-controlled ceiling fans and electric bedside lamps. Some have second bedroom spaces with bunk beds in them, and each has its own outdoor fire pit with Adirondack-style camp chairs.
Among the resort’s other features are a wooden, window-filled lodge with vaulted ceilings, where guests will check in and be able to arrange outings with area tour services. Guests can also eat a sit-down breakfast, order a wood-fired pizza and enjoy wine, beer or other beverages, and purchase take-out lunches designed and prepared by Dakota Hatton, the resort’s executive chef. Chauncey said Hatton also will offer dinner platters of ready-to-barbecue food that guests can take out to the resort’s gas grills to cook for themselves.
There also is a new pool, with an attached heated spa pool, a fenced-in dog run and lawns where guests will be able to play bocce, volleyball, croquet, badminton and other games.
“KOA did not spare any expense,” Chauncey said. “I think everybody likes to have an outdoor experience, but they like to be comfortable too.”