Glamping With The Thiem's At Inn Town Campground
Inn Town Campground, Dan Thiem, Erin Thiem
MRV: The Buzz, Your RV Lifestyle Insider. Written By: Olivia Richman
A Refined Camping Experience: Inn Town Campground
A Glamping Site In California Founded By Dan & Erin Thiem, Where Guests Can Enjoy The Outdoors While Still Feeling At Home
For many millennials and city dwellers, camping may seem like an inconvenience. Where would camping gear fit in a studio apartment? Where would they charge their phones or answer important work emails? That's where glamping comes in, and Inn Town Campground in Nevada City, California has perfected this new concept right outside of the Bay Area.
“For us, glamping is basically a way to allow people to experience the outdoors in a refine way,” said owner Dan Thiem. Co-owner Erin Thiem adds: “It gives people the opportunities to experience the outdoors with the creature comforts from home.”
Imagine being in a twelve by 14 foot canvas-wall tents under a canopy of treetops, the clear night sky peeking out from behind the leaves. All around is peace and quiet except for the sound of a campfire crackling nearby, distant laughter. Imagine experiencing this – being in the center of the forest – from a comfy bed, underneath warm blankets, a phone charging on a nightstand. That's the kind of thing glamping at Inn Town Campground offers: Guests sit on the tent's deck, which overhangs and looks out amongst the trees, elevated on the top of a hill overlooking a ravine.
“There are a lot of people that really like being outside in a small community,” said Dan. “But they live in downtown San Francisco, where owning camping gear is not practical. Or they're new to being outside in a camping environment. When we conceptualized, that was the market we had in mind. We spent quite a bit of time living in New Zealand and traveling for six months there with our young boys. Their holiday parks are all very conveniently located near the towns, with amenities that made it super easy to go camping and traveling with our family. Camping was a means to an end to experience a particular place you want to go to.”
For people glamping at Inn Town the true draw for many of their visitors is the close proximity to nearby cities, to stores and restaurants. The contrast of spending a busy night out on the town and then winding down in a peaceful woods setting is one of a kind.
“We want our guests to feel they are in the woods. A lot of the people don't want to go out into the wilderness. They want to order pizza, go into the town,” explained Dan. It was with this mentality in mind that Inn Town came to be.
Inn Town Campground has only been open for six months. When the couple returned from New Zealand three years ago they started the process of acquiring the land and designing the campground. They finally opened on 4th of July weekend.
“The response was fantastic,” said an excited Dan. “We were very close to full on the first-hand weekend. People were very positive, especially about the glamping. That really resonated well with the market that we serve. The most common feedback we get is that people really appreciate the thoughtful attention to detail in the facilities and in the design. They really feel like it was constructed in a way that was very integrative, which is great.”
The glamping tents include electricity, heated mattress pads, a mattress, fresh linens, side tables and private porches/balconies with outdoor seating. For more experienced or traditional campers, Inn Town also has RV hookups (“The Inn Town Campground has a variety of RV spaces to meet your needs. We have quaint spaces to suit your cute, vintage trailer. Or, maybe you travel more refined in a larger, modern rig; we have a few sites for those too. Individual sites vary from large to small, from sunny to shady, from pull-through to back-in. What kind do you like?”) and good old fashioned tent camping (“Pitch your own tent, hang out with friends, sleep under the trees. Our tent sites have all of the feel of a State Park or National Forest, but all of the convenience of urban camping. Sleep in forest, go out for dinner in town!”)
The multiple options are what make Inn Town Campground a great experience for all types of campers and travelers. “A lot of campgrounds – and RV parks in particular – have their tenting areas or cabin areas as an afterthought,” continues Dan. “At our campground, everything is integrated. We want them to all mesh really well together, as a group offering.”
Unique to the Inn Town Campground, there is a communal building with a community kitchen and living room. This not only makes staying at a campground more convenient, it also offers a lot of opportunity to bond with their family. The 3,000 square foot building includes a camp store, hostel-style community kitchen with pots and pans, an eating area, living room, foosball table, television, fireplace, reading nook and covered porch. Outside there's picnic tables, BBQ pits and a swimming pool.
“We have dedicated family restrooms and an amphitheater where we do movie nights. We have games in the lounge area. There are things that make it easy for a family who just wants to sit and relax,” explains Dan. “But it's also the mentality with the staff and the operation of the park. We also understand that traveling and camping with children can be very hard. That understanding and paying attention to small details where families come in makes a big difference to them and they appreciate it. They tell us that many, many times.”
The huge sense of community and compassion that people feel at Inn Town Campground was inspired by the founders' trip across New Zealand, where they visited many “holiday parks” (as the kiwis call them) with similar mentalities and amenities.
“The idea was to have a place where people can come and make it convenient and easy for them to prepare their meals and just be at the facility,” said Dan. “A lot of the people don't have a lot of the equipment or don't want to bother with it for the weekend. They want to come out and hang out in town.”
The Thiems lived in New Zealand in 2004 and then again in 2007 to 2010. During that time, they spent 2.5 months traveling around New Zealand before moving back to the United States. According to Erin, they lived in a little camper van with their two young children, getting a “hands-on experience.”
With a background in camping (Dan grew up in Colorado as a Boy Scout), the Thiems wanted to keep camping even when they had children, although having a two and five year old made it way more difficult.
“The holiday parks resonated with us because they were so easy and affordable. We could go on this 2.5 month road trip, seeing the whole country and have a kitchen where we could prepare our meals -not a tiny little stove - but also be outside and do some of the fun things that camping often offers,” recalled Dan.
The Thiems saw a vast amount of diversity at the holiday parks. They saw a yellow eyed penguin at one campground and hot springs in a huge mud pit throughout another campground (“That was a very typical kiwi thing!”). They stayed at beautiful campgrounds by the beach with “million dollar views.”
“Some of the reasons we can't think of individual stories is that we were going to the location for the things at that location. That translated really well to what we wanted to do here at Inn Town Campground,” said Dan. “A lot of RV parks or camping resorts have a bunch of things for people to do. The focus is being there at the park, as their getaway. We have some of that – we want people to be able to hang out. But this region is so rick with things to do, we are solely facilitating their vacation here.”
Unlike a lot of RV parks, the Inn Town Campground offers a “very nice natural experience.” Located in a beautiful old forest, guests really feel immersed within nature while being a mile from town. It's this sense of isolation that brings campers at the park together. The Thiems noted how surprised and excited they have been with the community the campers create within the park.
So have the Thiems – avid campers – had a chance to camp themselves? With the recent opening of Inn Town Campground, unfortunately no. But they hope to camp more in 2017.
“I had the opportunity to sleep in a tent by myself this summer, which I haven't done in my adult life,” said Erin. “Jut laying in the tent and looking up into the trees and the stars, it's like a really happy place to be.”
A graduate of East Connecticut State University in Journalism, Olivia
has written for Stonebridge Press & Antiques Marketplace among
others. She enjoys writing, running and video games.
Make Sure To Stay At:
Inn Town Campground, where guests can pitch their own tent, hang out with friends, or sleep under the trees. Having the feel of a National Forest, but
all of the convenience of urban camping.