Industry Insights: Kate Morel

Stay up to date on the glamping industry with Kate’s unique insights.Open Air Business gathering

Here we are, the wheel has turned and once again we find ourselves thrust into a fresh, shiny new year. If I cast my mind back, winter used to be a quiet time for glamping, but now, with more all-year accommodation available and more landowners diversifying, there are no quiet months. Gone is that gentle post-festive January that eased us into the new year, where one could gaze wistfully out of the windows envisioning pretty summer yurts. We now peer earnestly through car windscreens, driving around the country visiting new clients.   

Glamping started somewhere around 2003 in the UK, as a grass roots, back to nature holiday with eco-credentials reassuringly built-in, but that has also modified, with facilities such as mains fed electricity and flushing loos becoming widespread. It’s an interesting path of development given that the latest ABTA report is out, predicting that responsible tourism is on the verge of going mainstream with almost 50% of consumers saying it’s important to them when booking. In addition, 36% (up by 13% on 2014) said that they would opt for one travel offer over another if its environmental record was better.

Big travel companies are taking action, with one pledging to remove 70 million pieces of single use plastic in the next 12 months, and another planning to offer 10 million greener holidays by 2020. There are so many ways we can make our businesses more sustainable, such as switching to green electricity and carbon-offset gas providers. We can reduce water usage by switching to spray taps, using water hippos and recycling grey water (if on a water meter this will also reduce bills). More ideas and inspiration can be found at

Another way is to plant more indigenous trees and hedges which also create biodiversity and habitats. We can review our consumables such as cleaning products and even toilet paper – check out the bamboo products from Who Gives a Cr*p, which also donates 50% of profits to sanitation projects. Who knows, your guests might just go home and order some too. However, I remain unsure about the name.     

From the Diary 

Since I last wrote, I’ve been to check out some fantastic new cabins, one of which was specifically designed to be accessible, providing a glamping experience for wheelchair users. I’ve mused for some time now on how we can do more to provide creative holiday experiences for those who interact with the world in a unique way, be it through restricted mobility, sight, hearing or the autism spectrum. Everyone deserves the same depth of holiday experience, so I’m always delighted and encouraged when contacted by people who want to set up glamping which will meet these particular needs. I’ve also been thinking about how to make my writing more accessible by reading and recording it, but I don’t like the sound of my own voice so that’s on the back-burner for now. 

The other company I visited was producing super quality, hand-crafted timber roundhouse and hut designs, and at competitive prices too. However, the quality and cost weren’t entirely responsible for my smiles that day. I love to find and work with family businesses where skills and experience are being passed on from one generation to another, because it’s reassuring to find small companies working with integrity and taking pride in their craft.  

OAB Gathering

There are several new industry events coming up this spring and they couldn’t be better timed because as our European decree absolute looms, more businesses and landowners are looking for profitable development ideas and alternative options. One event that I am particularly looking forward to is the first Open Air Business Pre-Season Gathering (24-25 March, Hothorpe Hall in Leicestershire), because it’s going to be rather special. Sessions will be run by hand-picked industry leaders at a fab venue with plenty of time for networking.

Tally has asked the Morel & Co team to talk through the process of building a treehouse (or treehouses) – from my initial site appraisal, design concept, planning application, and what contributes overall to a successful treehouse rental. There’s also a social get-together for participants and delegates alike on the preceding evening, which believe me, is a unique chance to network with industry specialists over supper and drinks. I really do hope to see you there, and if you are joining us for the evening on the 24 March, please note that it is my birthday, and that I am fond of gin and flowers – but not flowery gin.


Whisk me Away

There are some places around the world which are absolutely hitting the mark when it comes to unique, experiential glamping. 

Under Canvas Mount Rushmore, USA

Under Canvas Mount Rushmore accommodation interior

One of them at Mount Rushmore, located on an original gold mining settlement, offers a unique experience within one of America’s most iconic landmarks. What I admire about it:

  • Well chosen, appropriate structures that endorse the USP and respect the site narrative
  • The clear ceiling feature over the bed making the most of starry night skies
  • The tents are thoughtfully and carefully nestled among the trees and natural contours of the land, creating a loose, unstructured layout
  • Related activities such as horse riding and panning for gold, reflecting the location’s history, endorsing the USP, and creating great memories for guests.


Aurora Zone, Finland

Aurora Zone in Finland with the Northern Lights in the sky

While Aurora Zone has several locations in the northern hemisphere with traditional hotels and cabins, I can’t think of a more truly immersive experience than to spend a night away from them in one of these glamping domes. They’re located in Torassieppi and Jeris in Finland overlooking a frozen lake. What I admire about them:

  • There’s a thin veil between you and the landscape, rather than being enclosed within the solid walls of a building
  • The wide view of the land and lake afforded by the dome’s huge windows, creating a closer relationship with the land around you
  • Expert qualified guides and instructors – in environments like this, they are absolutely essential
  • Related, experiential activities – husky rides, a reindeer farm visit, snowmobile safari, ice fishing and a northern lights sleigh-ride (seriously, never mind the fish, I’m hooked). 

Till next time, Kate



Kate MorelGlamping specialist Kate Morel helps landowners and hospitality businesses to develop and diversify by adding experience-focussed accommodation. Through Morel & Co, Kate and a team of industry experts provide start-up advice, planning consultancy, bespoke design and installation for glamping and unique build projects. 

Kate is offering an extended free desktop consultation to Open Air Business readers throughout 2019. / Phone Kate on 07849 514588, email info@morelcompany. Facebook business support group: Glamping Business Link

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