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Rising Glamping Demand Creating Niche Hospitality Market in Southeast Asia

PHUKET An increasing number of travelers in Southeast Asia are being attracted to a soaring new supply of tented accommodation in emerging destinations. Leading international hospitality consulting firm C9 Hotelworks has released a new report covering the transformation of the sector from camping to glamping and beyond.

Data from C9’s Tented Accommodation Market 2016 report shows there are currently 29 properties in the region offering international standard products consisting of 14 standalone tent only resorts and 15 being hybrid operations. Thailand and Indonesia are prime movers in the region.

Noting the rising influence of glamping Managing Director of C9 Hotelworks Bill Barnett said “sleeping in tents can be traced back to pre-historic times and the dawn of humankind, which makes them the world’s second accommodation innovation hot on the heels of the cave. Link in the earliest tourists or as they were known as ‘nomads’ and the intrinsic link between tents and travel is crystal clear.

Adding “if you trace back the roots of most of Asia’s resort and cultural destinations, backpackers were the earliest first movers into these locations. Today we have key travel disruptors such as low-cost airline carriers, flashpackers, Millennials and a rising tide of tourists looking for authentic and local experience that go beyond four walls.”

C9’s report is quick to point out an influx of new luxury slanted tents in the pipeline at the upcoming Rosewood in Luang Prabang Laos. Designed by creative icon Bill Bensley, there is a huge buzz about this product in the travel industry. Benslely of course is well known in tent circles for his landmark award-winning Four Seasons Tented Camp Golden Triangle. He is not the only starchitect who has embraced tents, with another notable being Jean-Michel Gathy creating inspired magic at the Amanwana.

Viewing locations of resorts in the report, those in forests top the chart, followed somewhat distantly by beaches. Cultural destinations and river settings rank in as well. Price wise in a broad market-wide snapshot the average median rack rate across the entire market is US$270. One surprising outcome of C9’s research is that 21% of the properties are in the midscale segment and 13% are entry level products.

Looking at investment from within the hospitality industry Bill Barnett comments “we are seeing a broader range of traditional investors coming on-stream in newer destinations. Favorable development cost, short build times and ultimately a drive by customers who are looking for more authentic holidays are key motivating factors.

Some of the key resources in niche accommodate range we found during our market research was Bali’s Escape Nomad, Luca Franco’s Luxury Frontiers and Exclusive Tents International who operate across an increasing global platform. There are some very creative and inspirational minds operating in this space.”

Looking to the future, once the hash tag ‘glamping’ is long gone, tented accommodation looks set to reinvent itself again after this second wind of new age emergence. Echoing this sentiment is Deepak Chopra who just might have been sitting in a tent when he wrote the following line “instead of thinking outside the box, get rid of the box.”

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