KENNEBUNKPORT — Maine is going glam. Well, at least its camping is, when a new campground opens next weekend offering a dozen luxurious, designer tents that are far from roughing it. It’s glamorous camping, or glamping for short.
But before you imagine a campground with women teetering around stumps on stilettos, glamping is only one small element of Kennebunkport’s Sandy Pines Campground.
“There are over 300 sites here, and we thought let’s try to appeal to all levels of campers,” says Sandy Pines co-owner and co-creator Debra Lennon.
Dressed in work clothes, her rubber gloves momentarily off while we chatted with less than a month to go before the opening, glamour is the last thing on Lennon’s mind. There’s still much to be done, and landscaping was hampered by spring rain and mud, but Lennon is totally confident everything will be ready on time. She’s an old hand at this: Lennon and her Sandy Pines business partner, Tim Harrington, have renovated several inns, hotels, and resorts as part of the Kennebunkport Resort Collection, whose properties include Hidden Pond, The Cottages at Cabot Cove, and the Tides Beach Club. In a downsizing move, Lennon relinquished ownership in the collection to concentrate on individual projects like Sandy Pines.
To say she is hands-on is an understatement. Today, what will be the camp’s General Store is to be cleaned up, stocked up, and prettied up with old-fashioned fittings. A massive cast iron pot-bellied stove awaits polishing. “That’s my task for the day,” Lennon says, a determined look in her eye.
The day before, the Grand Lodge, where we sit, was an empty shell. In one day it had become a bright lounge with comfortable seating and a check-in desk, all dominated by a grand stone fireplace with a herringbone red brick hearth.
As for the 12 glamping tents, each was outfitted by a different New England interior designer to give them an individual feel. Their styles range from Boho-chic to beachy, and each has 430 square feet of interior space with a sitting area, and king-size bed, and some have a bathroom. Bedding, towels, and toiletries are provided. Add-on teepees for kids are available.
Sandy Pines boasts even more more luxurious digs for purchase. There are completely furnished “tiny homes” with air conditioning, full baths, a living room, full kitchens, big comfy beds, and cable TV. Some have an outdoor deck. All are for sale, ranging from $63,800 to $82,420.
There is also something called the Coleman Experience, named for the camping gear company. It includes a traditional tent already set up with cots. “Just bring your sleeping bag, it’s all ready for you when you get here,” says Lennon.
Otherwise it’s camping as usual with hook-ups for RVs and pop-up tents. All campers receive the same campground amenities, including bathrooms, big sinks for dish and clothes washing, and Wi-Fi, too. There’s also a heated saltwater pool, bike rentals, paddleboards, and kayaks. The General Store has a snack bar; there’s a farm stand that will sell local produce and cheeses, and baked goods from local bakers; and there’s an old-fashioned ice cream cart dubbed the Icicle Tricycle. Though the glamping tents are off-limits to dogs, other campers are allowed to bring up to two with current vaccination paperwork.
Though not part of the Kennebunkport Resort Collection, Sandy Pines is a stop on the KRC Supper Shuttle, which whisks people off to dinner or drinks at, say, the new Burleigh in the Kennebunkport Inn, the highly regarded Earth at Hidden Pond, or the notable Ocean, with its spectacular views, at the Cape Arundel Inn.
The property had previously been Salty Acres Campground, a family-owned campsite that had seen better days. Little is left of it: all new infrastructure (sewer, electrical, etc.) was needed.
The campground is a few minutes from Goose Rocks Beach, a small hamlet with a clapboard general store and a white sand beach. Sandy Pines is also a short bike ride from Dock Square with its restaurants and galleries and stores.
But Sandy Pines won’t be quite finished this summer: Several Airstream campers are to be added for next season.
“Tim and I are both obsessed with Airstreams. We want about six to eight of them — we have our first,” she says nodding to a silver gem parked nearby. “It’s easy to find them, but they’re often in bad shape. The renovation’s tricky, but that’s going to be my winter project.”
SANDY PINES CAMPGROUND Open May-October. Nightly rates $30-$249. Dogs: $5 each, per night. 277 Mills Road, Kennebunkport. 207-967-2483. www.sandypinescamping.comLinda Laban can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.