Four years ago, Buitenplaats Beekhuizen was one of the first ‘glamping only’ destinations in the Netherlands. Nowadays, you can enjoy a glamping holiday in several pods and safari tents. The location, in the middle of nature in the Veluwezoom National Park, contributes to the popularity of this destination. A holiday in the Veluwe is always a good idea, which is why Buitenplaats Beekhuizen started looking at possibilities to extend the holiday season and make winter glamping possible. We spoke with Bas Rosier, Park Manager at Buitenplaats Beekhuizen, about winter glamping and the developments that have occurred within the park to date.
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At Buitenplaats Beekhuizen, you can stay overnight in a pod or a luxury safari tent with a party ranging from two to seven people. When Buitenplaats Beekhuizen took over the site, there were two reasons why they decided to opt for ‘glamping only’. “First of all, we saw that market trends were changing and that there was a greater need for luxury camping options. We also noticed that it was going to be difficult to obtain the right permits for sanitary buildings at this natural location. These combined factors led us to choose accommodation options like safari tents with private sanitary facilities. This way, we were able to meet the needs of our guests and be trendsetters in the market,” explains Rosier.
The main reason for guests to choose Buitenplaats Beekhuizen is the unique location in the Veluwezoom National Park. Simultaneously, Buitenplaats Beekhuizen is very centrally located and you can be in Arnhem, Velp or nearby attractions, such as Burgers’ Zoo, in no time. Another advantage to us is that there is not a lot of competition offering the same experience in the area.
Another important reason to choose Buitenplaats Beekhuizen is the accommodation facilities. “We also try to add to the experience by, for example, offering a welcome package. We’ve deliberately chosen not to have too many facilities and we try to make a difference by offering great service and personal contact.” For example, at Buitenplaats Beekhuizen, you can get a luxurious breakfast delivered to your accommodation during the weekend and you can have fresh bread rolls delivered from the bakery during the week. We offer a great restaurant at the recreation park which draws people to the area. Rosier says, “It is nice that our visitors catch a glimpse of the glamping accommodation from our restaurant and become curious about spending the night here.”
Rosier also notes that it is no disadvantage not having many facilities because this allows them to enter into partnerships with providers in the area. For example, guests can use the open-air swimming pool located five minutes from the park or they can visit the sauna in Velp. Buitenplaats Beekhuizen also entered into a special collaboration with Natuurmonumenten. At one of these activities, a forest ranger joins guests at the park and takes them to watch wildlife. Further collaborations are underway to set up more excursions. According to Rosier, it is important to show the possibilities the area has to offer and actively send people there.
Six of the glamping tents at Buitenplaats Beekhuizen are rented out all year round. In the first year, they were closed for two months during winter. In the second year during winter, they only opened during weekends to see if there was support. With success, they managed to extend the season and now they rent out the glamping tents all year round. Only during periods with frosts lasting longer than a week, they may temporarily close winter glamping because of the risk of frozen pipes but this has not been common in the Netherlands in recent years.
To make winter glamping possible, the glamping tents are equipped with a pellet stove as well as a petroleum heater. Additionally, you will find hot water bottles in all accommodation facilities to warm you up nicely. Rosier adds, “We do notice that the pellet stove carries the heat relatively high, so your feet and legs are heated less quickly. That’s why we are looking for ways to further insulate the units to increase the warmth in the tents.” Have a look at the infrared heating possibilities of YALA.
Rosier notices that winter glamping is something new in the market. “That’s what’s exciting! You see that people’s expectations are diverse, which is why we would like to make the tents even better suited for winter. YALA has put us in contact with a suitable partner who can install infrared heating within the floors. These are developments where collaboration enhances your product offer. You’re looking for a partner who aligns with your vision and who has the knowledge and ability to continue to develop the product. The first collaboration with YALA was very natural. YALA, at that time, was one of the first players in the field of glamping and was certainly the market leader. YALA had already proven itself with a variety of safari and glamping tents, which gave us a lot of confidence in our partnership”.
In general, the guests’ winter glamping experiences are positive. Rosier says, “The people who stay in glamping accommodation in the winter, like it a lot and they go for it. Sometimes, they don’t even have previous experience with glamping but these are people that really throw themselves into it. It’s also great that sometimes people ask about the duvets and mattresses from YALA because they like them so much.” However, according to Rosier, it remains important to properly manage expectations. For example, the heating is particularly designed to warm the accommodation in the evening after spending all day outside. That is the purpose of our winter glamping experience. Spending the entire day in the tent, even in winter, is a waste of this beautiful environment!
Looking to buy a glamping tent and curious about the occupancy rates? Rosier sees that the tents are moderately occupied during the week in winter but this may rise to 75% occupation during the weekend. “Whether there are bookings, depends mainly on the weather. The two tents that have a hot tub are booked a bit faster but for the other tents, the weather conditions are an important factor. A lot of last-minute bookings are made in the winter.” According to Rosier, the target group for winter glamping is somewhat smaller than the target group for glamping during the rest of the year. “People kind of feel that holidaying in tents is something you do from the 1st of April. This is a great challenge for us to show that glamping is also possible in winter”.
The main reason to add winter glamping is to be profitable as a park because Buitenplaats Beekhuizen is rather small. There is still enough room for seven accommodation units and Rosier wants to make use of them.
Rosier would like to see more new accommodation units installed as soon as possible but due to the parks’ position in the Natura 2000 area and the nitrogen crisis, there are limited opportunities to expand the park. For now, the main goals are to make the accommodations more winter resistant and to be able to continue to expand the season in future, whilst maintaining satisfied guests. “Once people know about the glamping experience, they embrace it. If you get guests to come, they will come back again. And that, of course, is great for YALA and us,” says Rosier.