Glamping resort opens in northern Michigan


Glamping resorts are not your average campsites. Most offer several camping themes, such as the safari tent, above, to enhance the visitor experience. Courtesy Bella Solviva

(As seen on WZZM TV 13) If your idea of camping involves more than a tent and the cold, hard ground, a new “glamping” resort that opened earlier this year in northern Michigan might be right for you.

Glamping, which is a combination of the words “glamorous” and “camping,” describes a type of luxury camping gaining popularity in the United States.

Brad Carlson said he became familiar with glamping when he and his wife, Sandy, started exploring an idea to open an amenity-focused camping resort.

“Our family has enjoyed camping for ages. It’s an annual event for us,” he said.

But he noted the campgrounds his family visited began to feel more and more cramped, with campsites often located so close to each other that you could hear your neighbor’s snores in the middle of the night.

He said his family was interested in creating a campground with more space between campsites and that offered amenities to make the camping experience easier and more relaxed.

The Carlsons are opening Bella Solviva, a 229-acre glamping eco-resort, located not far from Torch Lake in Antrim County.

Bella Solviva is being developed in several phases over multiple years. A grand opening is scheduled for spring 2016, but they are expecting to schedule some accommodations beginning in fall 2015. The reservations system is scheduled open Aug. 1.

The property is described as featuring “handsome woodlands and cascading creeks nestled among rolling hills and gorgeous ridge-top views,” with “majestic hemlock, red pine forests and towering maples” providing privacy and seclusion to visitors.

Once completed, Bella Solviva will offer approximately 230 camping sites that will include a diverse array of options. Safari tents, tree houses, vintage RVs, bed and breakfast suites and cabins are just some of the accommodation options that will be offered, according to Carlson.

The campground also will offer several themed areas to provide a variety of fun experiences for campers.

For example, Carlson said Shipwreck Island would cater to families and offer lots of activities for kids, while the equestrian center will appeal to those who enjoy horseback riding.

Campers will be provided with a host of amenities, as well as several add-on options to personalize their experience.

Bella Solviva is currently looking for input on the most sought-after amenities. Some of the possibilities include a fitness center, free wood bundles, laundry facilities, catered food and meals, and cooking pavilions.

Prices are dependent on the time of year, the type of accommodation and selected amenities. Prices can range anywhere from $57 a night for the most basic tent option, all the way up to $1,000 a night if a family is choosing the most luxurious experience.

Carlson said most of the resort will be available for three-season camping, with a few sections also available during the winter months, and there will be accommodations specifically for deer hunters.

“This year we will be closing for winter, but we are going to be building year-round facilities,” he said.

He said in addition to being a glamping resort, Bella Solviva is also an eco resort.

“Our goal is to be 100 percent energy independent,” he said, adding that won’t happen overnight.

Campers will notice a strong commitment to reuse and recycle during the day-to-day operations. The resort also will follow green building principles as it develops its facilities, including the installation of solar panels, wind turbines, hydropower and heat generators.

Carlson said there currently is nothing in the area that comes close to what Bella Solviva will offer. Even in comparison to some of the glamping options that have opened in the western part of the country, he said, Bella Solviva will be unique.

The Carlsons bring an array of experience to their new venture. Brad Carlson is an entrepreneur who has more than 30 years of experience in startup leadership and team and project management, while Sandy Carlson has led, managed and trained teams in a variety of service-related industries including education, fitness, ministry, hospitality and private-duty home care over the last 25 years.

To learn more about Bella Solviva visit its website.

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