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  4. A wildly popular RV rental company is pivoting to luxury 'glamping' — see inside its new $350-a-night tents in the Texas Hill Country

A wildly popular RV rental company is pivoting to luxury 'glamping' see inside its new $350-a-night tents in the Texas Hill Country

A wildly popular RV rental company is pivoting to luxury 'glamping' — see inside its new $350-a-night tents in the Texas Hill Country
RV rental platform Outdoorsy opened its third luxury campsite in March with plans to launch 12 to 17 more properties in the next three years.Outdoorsy
  • RV-rental platform Outdoorsy is expanding its real estate portfolio with new "glamping" properties.
  • Its third outpost in the Texas Hill Country opened in late March, starting at $350 a night.

Outdoorsy is one of the US' most popular RV-rental platforms. But nine years in and almost $3 billion in sales later, it's ready to expand.

The company now wants to become the go-to destination for $350-a-night luxury tent camping, or something close to it.

Outdoorsy is going all-in on "glamping" — a portmanteau of "glamour" and "camping" — with its own branded properties.

It's already opened three "glamp sites" over the last year and is looking to invest over $700 million into the ballooning business, CEO Jeff Cavins told Business Insider.

Glamping’s popularity has remained strong since its explosion during the pandemic.

Glamping’s popularity has remained strong since its explosion during the pandemic.
Four Season's Naviva "glamping" resort opened in 2022 in Punta Mita, Mexico, with 15 open-air tents each starting at $3,950 a night.      Four Seasons

In 2023, campground giant Kampgrounds of America, or KOA, called the industry an "aggressive growth segment," with four in 10 campers expressing interest in glamping that year.

Niche luxury operators like Getaway House and Autocamp have capitalized on this boom by quickly expanding across the US.

Traditional hospitality giants have done the same: In 2022, Four Seasons opened its first adults-only luxury camping resort.

Outdoorsy’s decision to throw its hat into the non-moving accommodations business might seem antithetical to a brand synonymous with RVs.

Outdoorsy’s decision to throw its hat into the non-moving accommodations business might seem antithetical to a brand synonymous with RVs.
Outdoorsy purchased its Bayfield location in the first quarter of 2023.      Outdoorsy

But its CEO believes this is a reasonable evolution.

People go to Outdoorsy to rent RVs. And those RVs need a destination and a place to park at night (preferably not a Walmart parking lot).

So, why not create that for its guests?

Over the last 1 ½ years, the company has poured $35 million into revamping and launching three luxury campsites.

Over the last 1 ½ years, the company has poured $35 million into revamping and launching three luxury campsites.
Cavins said the properties' previous "mom-and-pop" owners didn't keep the campgrounds open year-round. Pictured is Outdoorsy's Bayfield, Colorado location.      Outdoorsy

In late 2022 and early 2023, Outdoorsy acquired and modernized two existing RV parks — one near Yosemite National Park and another in Bayfield, Colorado — with amenities like glamping accommodations, echoing Camp Margaritaville's RV park playbook.

Both sites, now outfitted with a mix of RV hookups, cabins, and luxury tents, began welcoming guests in May 2023. So far, the investment is paying off: This year, Cavins said he expects both to be completely booked from spring through fall.

On the heels of this success, Outdoorsy launched its third property in the Texas Hill Country, nestled amid wineries about 1 ½ hours from Austin.

On the heels of this success, Outdoorsy launched its third property in the Texas Hill Country, nestled amid wineries about  1 ½ hours from Austin.
By car, Outdoorsy Hill Country is less than 1 ½ hours from San Antonio and four hours from Houston.      Outdoorsy

The new addition marks Outdoorsy's first foray into the ultra-luxe glamping market

Its CEO said the company built the 32-acre Hill Country retreat "from scratch" and outfitted it with 22 high-end, all-season canvas tents.

Ironically, RVs (or any non-golf cart vehicles) aren't welcomed: "You don't want to headlights shining in your glamping tent," Cavins said.

A night in one of the high-end tents starts at $350. During the April 8 solar eclipse, nightly rates will jump to $600.

A night in one of the high-end tents starts at $350. During the April 8 solar eclipse, nightly rates will jump to $600.
Outdoorsy Bayfield's luxury tents (left) are less expensive to book than Outdoorsy Hill Country's (right).      Outdoorsy

To compare, the cheapest accommodations at Outdoorsy's first Yosemite and Bayfield locations, not including the bring-your-own-RV options, start at $42 and $110 a night, respectively. (The $42 is for a traditional on-the-ground tent.)

These tents could be worth the cost for campers who crave comfort: They all have wrap-around decks, mini-bars, and rainfall showerheads.

These tents could be worth the cost for campers who crave comfort: They all have wrap-around decks, mini-bars, and rainfall showerheads.
Outdoorsy Hill Country has resort-like amenities like a 250-person event space, a general store, and Starlink-powered WiFi.      Outdoorsy

No more sleeping on dirt floors: The climate controlled tents have enough beds to sleep two or four people.

Instead of "going outside," guests can use the ensuite bathrooms. And instead of slow-cooking hot dogs over a measly fire, they can prepare meals at the kitchenette and grill. (The luxury campground's café and bar serve food as well.)

Outdoorsy Hill Country’s proximity to Austin could make it the perfect retreat for the tech community.

Outdoorsy Hill Country’s proximity to Austin could make it the perfect retreat for the tech community.
The property hosts excursions like guided hikes and wine tours through the Texas Wine Trail.      Outdoorsy

After all, what tech bro wouldn't salivate at the idea of a high-end vacation, sunrise yoga, and afternoon winery hopping?

"This is very much your Tesla kind of crowd," Cavins told BI.

About 80% of Outdoorsy’s team is still dedicated to its RV rental business and insurance arm, Roamly.

About 80% of Outdoorsy’s team is still dedicated to its RV rental business and insurance arm, Roamly.
Its CEO said that its new glamping arm functions as a less than 20-person startup within Outdoorsy.      Outdoorsy

But armed with Hill Country as its prototype, the company's CEO said it's ready to move full steam ahead with its luxury camping business.

Outdoorsy plans to launch three more sites in 2025 in destinations like Zion and Yellowstone. The goal is to have 15 to 20 properties in its portfolio in the next three years.

Competition could be stiff: It's one of several brands at the intersection of glamping and RVs.

Competition could be stiff: It
Autocamp has two locations opening within a year: one in Hill Country and another near Sequoia National Park.      Brittany Chang/Business Insider

Autocamp, founded in 2013, uses Airstream trailers and tiny homes as its "hotel rooms."

The popular brand has seven locations around the US, including one in Yosemite and another opening in Hill Country, Texas, next year. (Sound familiar?)

Summer rates for Autocamp Yosemite hover at around $270 a night — about $20 more expensive than Outdoorsy's property an hour away.

But Cavins, with the help of investors, is ready to spend big to win travelers over.

But Cavins, with the help of investors, is ready to spend big to win travelers over.
Cavins said many investors are interested in funding Outdoorsy's glamping expansion.      Outdoorsy

He told BI that Outdoorsy plans to spend more than $700 million building more than 50 locations over five years. "Income-producing real estate in highly strategic locations is considered a safe haven for investors."

The work that comes with opening one of these properties "isn't easy," according to Cavins. Outdoorsy had to build all of the infrastructure at Hill Country, including roads and septic and water tanks.

But once these properties are up and running, "guests just keep returning … at a very high price point."




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