TipiAlgarve, based in the Algarve, Portugal which begun promoting their services to the UK market, under the strapline, “Do something a little different this year – go glamping in the sunny Algarve.” Owners Samantha and Calvin Newport run TipiAlgarve’s glampsite from a secret valley location, between Silves and Monchique, that allows privacy and security first opened in 2008 and were one of the first pioneers to open a glampsite in Portugal.
Speaking about the inspiration behind this glamping project, Calvin from Hertforshire who has a background in Eco building in Spain and building his own barn style house in the UK and an avid VW Campervan fan with a great love of camping and organic gardening aswell as being an accomplished trained cook : “I have always enjoyed and been passionate about camping. However after experiencing the more luxurious version of camping, also known as glamping, in the UK, I was inspired to bring the new phenomenon to the Algarve, where the weather is much better suited for creating glamping experiences.”
Sam , originally from Surrey who studied HR Management at University in London and seasoned HR professional in various Companies in London then decide to travel the world and experience Holistics and retrained as a a qualified Yoga teacher and Holistic Therapist added “ Ive always had a passion to run my own Holistic retreat somewhere lovely and warm.” Calvin who initially came over to the Algarve and bought the land which had a house and pool , and cottage and immediately saw the vision of an Eco, Glamping retreat and started all the clearing of the land, building a large Camp kitchen, a communal shower block and toilets with help from an army of volunteers through the Wwoof website. Calvin remembers the blood, sweat and tears and many set backs in the beginning “Being in a foreign country, means delay after delay after delay due to the many hurdles you have to jump over such as the planners, builders, suppliers, and extra labour locally employed to do major building work… but you soon realise you have to just let go and go with the flow and forget about project management timescales, it all goes out of the window, but in the end its so worth it!”
Sam who runs the office which includes the Advertising, Marketing, Website, all the administration and Accounts and Managing the volunteer program has her fair share of challenges running the business side: “There was a time where I would be on the lap top all day and all night from 8 am until midnight, but realised that I needed extra help and needing to find ways to work smarter, so we employed a lovely Eco Manager couple from the UK to assist us through the busy season and it was a huge relief for me so that I could then enjoy offering Yoga and Holistics. It is very easy to become consumed by the business to balance the books and loosing site of your initial dream which was to enjoy the outdoors, nature, especially organic gardening and hanging out with all our cats and dogs, chickens and ducks and striving to become more sustainable. We try to keep things in check and strike the right balance but its not always easy especially in the busy summer months” “We both work 12 hour days in the summer, 7 days a week, but then we have 3 months off during the winter where we can finally take a long holiday for a month or longer which you really need as you can feel burned out .. this is typical for tourism in Portugal .. where it can feel like boom or bust. You certainly don’t start a Glamping business to get rich quick, its a lifestyle choice” adds Calvin.
Visitors are also supplied with a full itinerary and list of recommended supplies via e-mail before their arrival, ensuring that they are fully prepared. Sam explains :“Its important to provide a personable, friendly but professional touch for our guests, I guess that is what they expect when choosing to stay in a small glamping establishment” At TipiAlgarve, guests are provided with accommodation either a Native American style Tipi, Yurt or Safari tent that includes a double bed with freshly laundered bedding, cushions and towels, plus storage for clothes and electrical power outlets. A shaded cooking area is located outside, with a sheltered dining area with tables and chairs and a hammock, where all kitchen essentials are available. Plus there is a communal area “chill out lounge” and terrace with BBQ and outdoor pizza oven where they host the popular “create your own pizza night” which is great for families to meet up socially and enjoy the pollution free, starry night sky . The Communal shower block featuring solar heated showers , flushing toilets which flush onto the nearby reed beds and washing facilities. There is an out door Yoga temple with fantastic views of the protected forrest and valley and a swimming pool and Zen pond of Koi carp fish , ducks and chickens.
Supporting the eco-friendly ideal of traditional camping, TipiAlgarve’s vegetable patch enables glampers to buy and pick their own organically grown fresh produce, which reduces the amount of supplies required when packing for the trip. Calvin finally sums up all the hard efforts “We are always happy to hear when guests tell us when they leave that they feel inspired to go home and take a little piece of Tipi Algarve with them, such as trying to grow organic vegetables or raise chickens , it brings us both great satisfication that we may have helped plant a small seed to strive to become more sustainable and enjoy it in the process”