GRAND MANAN – One might think studying business at St. Francis Xavier University (St. FX) would be more than enough for one person to handle, but Hunter Park of Grand Manan feels otherwise. Park has just opened the first glamping site on the island, Park Place Retreats, and is looking forward to being able to offer people a high-end camping experience year-round.

Park said the glamping site is a two-bedroom geodesic dome sporting a gorgeous water view. In fact, campers, or should we say glampers, can watch a spectacular sunrise every morning right from the dome. While there are several other glamping sites throughout the Maritimes, Park said the Grand Manan site is a bit more high-end.

“It’s actually not a whole lot like other glamping sites in the Maritimes,” said Park. “It actually has a full kitchen and bathroom, with septic and plumbing, heat and air conditioning. It’s more like a luxury glamping experience.”

It didn’t take long before Park had bookings for his new glamping site. Just two weeks ago the first guests stayed in the dome, located at Long Bay, which is between North Head and Castalia, and they loved the experience. Park described the experience for glampers as being like camping, but with all of the luxuries and comforts of home. There are two bedrooms, a full kitchen setup, a full bathroom with a shower, complete with everything you need. All anyone has to bring with them is their own clothing and food. There is even a fire pit, a hammock, and deck chairs for people to be able to relax and enjoy the views.

“It’s a getaway. It’s like camping, because it’s basically a tent. But, when you’re inside the tent, it’s just like a house, and it has all the luxuries of home.”

The structure is a 30-foot geodesic dome which Park said is a “sustainable structure”. The only wood used in the construction of the dome was for the deck and the frame. Park said this type of structure is better for the environment, and quite unique.

Park hopes to expand in the future with more domes, and he expects to have more by next summer. He will be entering his second year at business school at St. FX this fall, so between his education and his new business venture, he will be pretty busy. Park has even more plans for the future, and hopes to be able to expand on his glamping venture on Grand Manan.

“It’s open year-round right now, all four seasons,” said Park. “I’d like to hopefully one day have a tourism business on the island where I can put all of my time into it, have it as a full-time job, maybe have more domes, venture into other things like tours. It’s pretty busy, but I’m used to that. I’ve always been in student government, and volunteer work through high school and university. I’m kind of used to the busy lifestyle.”

In addition to the building being more sustainable than other types of camping sites, Park has made sure that all of the furnishings are sustainable, as well as many of the amenities. For instance, the mattresses and linens are made from organic cotton. Other amenities include a Keurig coffee maker, bowls, plates, glasses, mugs, and cutlery, extra pillows, towels and facecloths, and more. Many of the items in the dome are Canadian-made, and there is plenty of local art hanging on the walls. Park said $10 from every stay will be given to environmental and LGBTQ charities, as well as to support other things on the island.

“Hopefully someday I’ll have some sort of bursary or scholarship, and basically just trying to better the island.”

If you are interested in the glamping experience on Grand Manan, you won’t be disappointed. Park said there will be a welcome booklet that lists all of the fun things to see and do while visiting the island, including beaches, hiking, and cafes and other local businesses. Of course, there are also whale watching tours, and sunsets that are second-to-none.

“Beautiful sunsets, best I’ve ever seen. There’s so much to do here. Kayaking tours, you can go squid-jigging and fishing and stuff. There’s a lot of unique things to do here.”

You can find out more and book your stay via the Facebook page, Park Place Retreats.

sarigreen@stcroixcourier.ca