01/12/2016 - 13:16

Eco takes glamping global

01/12/2016 - 13:16

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From Rottnest Island to the US Virgin Islands, luxury camping, or glamping, is taking off, with a local manufacturer poised to take advantage of soaring global demand for high-end tents. 

Karl Plunkett says he’s been blindsided by the rapid growth in demand for his luxury tents. Photo: Attila Csaszar

From Rottnest Island to the US Virgin Islands, luxury camping, or glamping, is taking off, with a local manufacturer poised to take advantage of soaring global demand for high-end tents.

And that demand is growing so quickly, Eco Structures Australia owner Karl Plunkett admits he didn’t even see it coming.

Mr Plunkett has been selling luxury tents for nine years, with their first application at his Ramada Eco Beach Resort in Broome, which was destroyed by Cyclone Rosita in 2000.

The tents are built around a structurally engineered steel footing system with canvas walls; and because of their modular fashion, they can be customised with extra rooms, external decking or bathrooms.

Installation time can take just two days, depending on the complexity of the tent and its finishes, while a tent can be removed with no lasting impact to the natural environment.

Mr Plunkett said while Australia was his biggest market, international demand had picked up so swiftly this year that Eco Structures had equalled or surpassed its average annual turnover in each in the past four months.

Orders are flowing in from a diverse list of international destinations, with resorts in China, Saudi Arabia, Oman, the US Virgin Islands, New Zealand and Costa Rica on Eco Structures’ client list.

Depending on the location, Mr Plunkett said some resorts were charging up to $US1,100 per night to stay in the tents, which cost, on average, around $20,000.

“You can get such a high room rate because of the locations – you can put them right in the middle of nowhere where nobody else can build,” Mr Plunkett told Business News.

“For the Chinese ones, where they are being built, there are no permanent buildings allowed, and we can remove the tents within 24 hours.

“They really work well for Aboriginal tourism too, because they have a very soft and light footprint.”

In Western Australia, Eco Structures is supplying six of its highest-end tents to Margaret River’s Olio Bello olive oil plantation, so it can offer accommodation on its estate.

Eco Structures will also supply 74 tents for a new accommodation development near Rottnest Island’s Pinky Beach.

“The likes of Airbnb are really opening up the market to glamping and camping accommodation on remote properties, so auxiliary income for wineries, wilderness tour operators, cattle stations, farms or Aboriginal communities is very easy to achieve” Mr Plunkett said.

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