And now, according to schedule, the gal chooses five greats. Here we have Five Great tented villas, in alphabetical order.
Aman-i-Khas, which means ‘special peace’, is on the outskirts of India’s Ranthambore National Park, once the private hunting ground of the Maharajahs of Jaipur. There are ten Moghul-style tents, each 108 sq m and soaring to a maximum height of six metres. Inside, cotton partitions separate living, dining and sleeping areas. Awake in the morning to a distant vista of the tenth-century Ranthambore Fort, and head off to see how many of the park’s 350 bird species you can spy.
Belmond Savute Elephant Camp, 180 km from Maun, is in Botswana’s beautiful 11,000 sq km Chobe National Park. The 12 tents, with thatched tops, are about 40 sq m, with mosquito-netted beds in front of bathing areas, with indoor and outdoor showers. You are awakened at 5.30 a.m. with still-warm chocolate muffins and flasks to make wake-up coffee or tea, sustenance before your dawn safari which brings you back to base, and a hearty brunch (your evening safari breaks for sunset cocktails, in the bush).
Four Seasons Tented Camp Golden Triangle, Thailand was among the first to show glamping can be luxury (well, the designer of the 15 identical tents is top style guru Bill Bensley). Wake up, look out at Laos and Myanmar as well as Thailand – hence the ‘golden triangle’ – and enjoy fabulous food, all included, and learning how to be an elephant mahout. To avoid having to cross a suspension bridge, tents two to five are closest to base, and to the two-room treehouse spa.
Ritz-Carlton Ras al Khaimah Al Wadiis one of two tented-Ritzes in this Emirate (the other is beach-set). Al Wadi, which has 100 hectares of red-sand rolling desert, hosts 101 pool villas, 158 or 253 sq m – shown above, in the photo, is tent 515, an eight-shape structure with no fewer than 31 windows, dozens of interior mirrors and one palatial central bathtub. Tent 515’s heated swimming pool is 12 metres long, and has strategically-placed screens for total privacy from all but the occasional desert fox. Camel riding, cycling, falconry and wadi bashing are on your menu here.
Singita Sabora Tented Camp, in Tanzania’s Grumeti Reserves, has nine lavishly furnished tents filled with traditional Masai beadwork and blankets as well as original ‘campaign’ furniture and Zanzibar chests. Emerge from your private home to day-beds for unlimited game viewing. This is relaxation personified, with a gym and pool for exercise. The Singita collection is masterminded by Luke Bailes, who truly understands what today’s luxury travellers want, and the company is especially good at exciting kids who might not, beforehand, have wanted to accompany adults on such a trip.