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Gone glamping: Luxury tents offer an indulgent retreat in the shadow of New York City

"Glamping" arrives in New York City
"Glamping" in the shadow of the New York City skyline 05:16

For the Strickland family, summer vacation means reconnecting with nature. "The one thing I loved when we first got here is that they kicked off their shoes and ran to the grass," Amy Strickland said of her kids. "So it was like getting out of that concrete jungle and getting the nature element back in your life."

Strickland and her kids Madison and Jackson, who are experienced campers, decided to try something new for Madison's fourteenth birthday: they went on an indulgent retreat in the shadow of an iconic skyline. They went glamping.

Glamping, or glamorous camping, provides the comforts of a hotel in the middle of nature's beauty. Remarkably, one of the newest glamping sites looks out on some man-made wonders: the skyscrapers of Manhattan.

The Strickland family plays lawn games at Collective Governors Island   CBS News  

"Each of the Journey tents either has two single beds or a full bed inside -- full electricity, lots of places to plug in your gadgets, phones," said Collective Retreats CEO Peter Mack. 

His hotel brand sets up temporary, eco-friendly accommodations in one-of-a-kind locations.

"I had this experience where I woke up in a hotel room and I was in Chicago but I thought I was in Beijing and it occurred to me …that traditional hotels are created to be comfortable but they are not created to authentically connect people to a place," said Mack. "To me, it was an opportunity to make travel more special by creating beautiful retreats like this one with all the benefits and amenities of a hotel but with much more of an authentically connected experience to the place."

A Summit tent at Collective Governors Island   COLLECTIVE RETREATS  

Collective Governors Island opened to the public on June 29, offering 10 larger Summit tents and 27 smaller Journey tents, ranging in price from $125 to $750 per night.

"We've put a lot of effort into giving each individual tent unit its own specific look and feel," said Mack. He described the aesthetic as Scandinavian and nautical.

"There are those who say come on, this isn't really camping. These are canvas hotel rooms. What do you say to that?" asked CBS News' Don Dahler.

Glampers at a bonfire at Collective Governors Island COLLECTIVE RETREATS      

"I think they're right in a lot of ways," said Mack. "When I turn to Collective Retreats I'm looking for something else. I'm looking to be pampered more. … I'm looking to have a rain-style showerhead connected to my tent. I'm looking to be served breakfast in this beautiful space, dinner, having activities, all the wonderful things that I want from a trip without any hassle. So, we like to think we're the best of both worlds. "

Glamping is a growing trend in experiential travel, according to Dr. Lynn Minnaert, the academic director of the Tisch Center for Hospitality and Tourism at New York University. When asked if some travelers value experience more than relaxation, Minnaert said, "it seems to be a bit of a trend since the downturn of 2007, 2008, where people have realized that material possessions aren't necessarily forever. But a memory will last."

Minnaert described experiential travel as "seeing travel more as a process of active participation than just consumption. So you are not just traveling to a resort that could be anywhere in the world enjoying the pool and the amenities you're trying to really get underneath the skin of the destination try to interact with local people and get a glimpse of local life as it were."

On Governors Island, glamping is drawing more life to the former Coast Guard and Military base while offering visitors their own special corner of New York City.

Collective Retreats' Mack thinks the experiential travel trend is in its infancy. 

"What we're really seeing is that people are looking for more," he said. "Their leisure time has become so precious, because the world [has] just become so crowded. There's so much going on and everyone's so busy. The idea that they can really have an authentic, awesome experience and some leisure time -- I think that we're just at the beginning of that."

One of 27 Journey tents at Collective Governors Island CBS Newss

It's an experience that also gives guests like the Stricklands a chance to unplug and reconnect with each other.

"We've definitely disconnected this weekend which has been amazing," said Amy Strickland. "We didn't see the Wi-Fi password so nobody had it. So no one has been on their phones playing games or anything."

"A 14-year-old and 10-year-old not on their phones has really been an amazing treat," she added. 

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