The Glamping Business: Dunton Hot Springs

Interview by: Alexandria Autrey

The glamping business doesn't get started overnight, every glamping destination has to start somewhere. We interviewed Dunton Hot Springs on how they got started in the glamping business and the experiences they have had.

How long have you been in the Glamping business and when did you get involved in this movement?
That depends on your definition of "glamping", if it relates to tents and a luxury camping experience, we opened Dunton River Camp in the summer of 2013.  Although, if your definition includes any rustic luxury immersed in nature stay experience, then you would include Dunton Hot Springs as a "glamping" destination.  Dunton Hot Springs opened as a resort to the public in 2001, but the town itself was originally established in 1885.

How long did it take to start the business up?
Dunton Hot Springs was purchased by the current owner in 1994 and the complete renovation of the town took seveven years.  In regards to Dunton River Camp, the planning and constructing of the property took three years.

Where did you get all your Glamping supplies?
If you are referring to our tents at Dunton River Camp, we custom designed them and then worked with a tent manufacturer in Montana to produce the tents.  We also used local contractors to build our tent platforms and constructed the bathrooms out of zip panels.

Were there any hurdles you had to tackle?
Planning was a big hurdle for us because, our county didn't know how to classify the structures since neither of them are permanent.  In addition, the location where we chose to build the tents was 'naked' land and we had to build all infrastructure (power, water, etc).

Where do people like to stay mostly?
Every guest is different, some really enjoy our river tents.  They sit just above the West Fork of the Dolores River and the sound of the river helps lull you to sleep.  Others enjoy the mountain tents because, they have stunning views of the Wilson Mountain Range including one 14,000' peak.  At Dunton Hot Springs, each cabin is totally authentic and completely unique.  Guests choose different ones as their favorite for all sorts of reasons.  However, Well House is our most popular 2 guest cabin because, it has its own private natural hot spring tub in the middle of the room.

What activities do people do during the day when staying?
It really depends on the season.  In the summer fly-fishing, horseback riding and hiking are some of our most popular activities.  However in winter, guests really enjoy snow shoeing and cross-country skiing.  At Dunton Hot Springs & Dunton River Camp, guests also like to take the opportunity to relax and read a book.  This is one of the few places left in the world without cell service (although, we have Wi-Fi blanketing the area), so we call it a "forced disconnect."  

How long did it take to install yurts, tents, etc. ?
Constructing Dunton River Camp from scratch took approximately 6 months.  With that said, we take the tents down at the end of every summer and put them back up in May and this process takes us a couple of weeks.

Why did you decide to offer the glamping vs. traditional accommodation options?
The owners of Dunton Hot Springs love going on African Safari's, and truly enjoy tent accommodations.  They had owned the property where Dunton River Camp sits now (an old cattle ranch four miles downriver from Dunton Hot Springs) for several years but, knew they couldn't build anything new that would look right/incorporate well with the existing structures (dating back to the late 1800's.)  After that, the idea for tents was brought up and this fit with the time period of the original town and was something they truly love.

Do you have plans to expand?
It is a possibility but, there are no set plans for expansion at this time.

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