There’s much to love about camping: the fresh air, the opportunity to connect with nature, the peace and quiet. But sleeping on the ground isn’t for everyone, and let’s be real — the bathroom situation at traditional campsites can be unpredictable at best. It’s no wonder, then, that the concept of glamping (short for glamorous camping) has exploded in popularity over the last decade, preserving the best elements of camping while including just enough creature comforts to satisfy the squeamish.
Detroiters who crave that elevated camping experience can now consider Off Map, which officially opened this past weekend. Just a three-hour drive from Detroit, the new “glampsite” is located near the southwest Michigan resort town of South Haven. Twelve luxury safari tents are scattered across the 75-acre property, which also sports a large indoor common area, a shower and bathroom facility, and communal fire pit and picnic spaces.
Chicago natives and longtime friends Sam Shanley and Mike Doyle, proprietors of Off Map, say the property was inspired by Shanley’s experiences camping at various national parks over a seven-month period in 2017. “I had never camped before, and I quickly learned that rustic camping requires quite a bit of know-how and even more equipment,” Shanley says. “The REI budget for that trip was pretty outrageous, and reading the setup instructions for my tent on the first night was pretty embarrassing.”
To save guests the hassle of setting up camp, each of the property’s safari tents is pre-set upon a wooden platform and includes either one king or up to three twin memory foam beds with premium linens. Campers can warm up by their very own wood-burning stove on cooler nights, or enjoy the breeze from battery-powered fans on hotter ones. Each tent also includes a power bank for charging electronic devices, along with dimmable lanterns and a small seating area.
Five individual restrooms are available in a newly converted barn, each of which includes its own shower, sink, and toilet for privacy. Guests can enjoy daily continental breakfast, ample drinking water, and a selection of games and activities in the site’s indoor common space, which is open daily from 8:30 a.m. until 11 p.m.
“We tell our guests that they should expect to show up and be camping – none of the hours of setup, pitching tents, and building fires,” Doyle says. “Your bed is made with fresh linens; you have clean bathrooms and an indoor café with daily breakfast.”
Despite the property’s secluded feel, guests staying at Off Map are only a 10-minute drive from the shops, restaurants, marinas, and beaches of downtown South Haven. Outdoor attractions like the Black River Nature Preserve and the Kal-Haven Trail are even closer, offering hiking, biking, and bird-watching just a few miles from the site.
“Once people arrive, the type of experience they have is really up to them,” says Doyle. “Some folks spend their time relaxing at the property and exploring our 75 acres. Others are looking for a more active trip and spend their time hiking, biking, and exploring the local towns and beaches.”
The property is largely quiet during daytime hours when many guests disperse to explore nearby towns and attractions. But as the sun begins its slow decline into the horizon, Off Map comes alive with bonfires, cookouts, and even live music on select nights. In the future, Shanley and Doyle hope to experiment with holding events such as music festivals at the property. “There’s so much space here that we have lots of options,” says Doyle. “[That] is both exciting and daunting!”
Nightly rates start at $150 for weekdays and $175 for weekends. Reservations can be booked online.
For information, visit stayoffmap.com.