By Gretta Monahan
Some people love to go camping. They love the thrill of being one with the earth. Of smelling the fresh air and being among the elements—the salty sand dunes, the musty earth, the gardens, the forests, the mountains.
Well I love those things, too. But what I don’t love is getting a crick in my neck from sleeping on the hard ground. Or waking up to an invasion of uninvited and aggressive insects in my sleeping bag. Or having to share a bathroom (that is, if I’m lucky enough to even have one that isn’t just the woods) with 50 other campers.
To me, things like that add up to what sounds like a nightmare vacation. So when I heard people talking about ‘glamping,’ I had to check it out, pronto.
A merging of the terms “glamorous” and “camping,” glamping is now a serious thing. It all started years ago in remote spots like Thailand, South Africa, Israel, and India, when discerning travelers started looking for ways to stay in the wild and have incredibly cool outdoor experiences, but do so with tour guides, four-star meals, and beautifully outfitted tents. In short, safaris went luxury. And now that they’ve started catching on all over the rest of the planet? Now you’re talking my camping language.
My hubs Ricky Goldin and our son and I love to vacation in Sag Harbor, and Ricky’s a longtime boater. So this summer we set out to put a new spin on glamping—by doing it on the ocean. We stumbled on Captain Toby Stull’s and his gorgeous water vessel, a 52-foor cutter-rigged yacht called Starlight. A former Boston lawyer, Toby left his top firm to start his own company as a sailing captain a year and a half ago. “I just finally thought to myself, ‘Why am I beating my head against the wall going to an office every day?’” he told me. So he began chartering private sails (from day trips up to week-long trips) all over the Caribbean in the winter. But in the summer he’s right in our backyard in Sag Harbor, which (as you can probably imagine) I was more than thrilled to take advantage of.
Even before climbing aboard, Stull’s Instagram (@starlight) was enough to convince me to go for it—his photos are an escape from reality in their own right—but the real thing was simply unreal. For starters, the yacht’s decked out with a beautiful solid teak interior, no less than three private staterooms (a.k.a. bedrooms) and two bathrooms, plus a generator, ice maker (so key!) and most importantly, a slew of water toys. Picture relaxing on the hammock and doing barbecues onboard, anchoring in Sag Harbor for local lobster clam cakes, and dropping anchor in picturesque waters for paddle boarding. Not too shabby, eh?
And then there’s the challenge of what to bring to wear in the middle of nowhere (literally, when you’re floating away with the tide). My humble recommendations: the all-natural cotton caftans from LemLem, made under model Liya Kebede. They’re pretty, light as a feather, and their price goes to helping artisans in Ethiopia, where they’re made.
On a purely nautical note, the all-American pieces from the spring collections of Peter Pilotto and Michael Kors are completely on-point: The likes of clean-cut navy striped knit tops (MK) and just-pull-it-on-and-go shift dresses (PP) in pretty prints are seaworthy no-brainers.
And that’s really the whole point of glamping, right? Getting away from it all, but with easy luxury. I can’t remember the last time I felt so comfortable in nature, and also so utterly relaxed.
Find more information about Starlight cruises at www.sailstarlight.com.