Famed naturalist John Muir once said, "In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks." As it turns out, he was right: In 2018, English researchers from the University of East Anglia published the results of a study into the benefits of green space. Living close to nature and spending time outside, they concluded, "reduces the risk of type II diabetes, cardiovascular disease, premature death, preterm birth, stress and high blood pressure."
"Forest bathing is already really popular as a therapy in Japan -- with participants spending time in the forest either sitting or lying down, or just walking around. Our study shows that perhaps they have the right idea," the study's lead author, Caoimhe Twohig-Bennett, said in a press release.
Nature's biological and psychological benefits make it an ideal reward for incentive recipients who have earned a recuperative and regenerative retreat. But nature can be just as Spartan as it is soothing. Incentive planners must therefore be careful to choose destinations that showcase only the best of what the great outdoors has to offer.
Fortunately, the "glamping" trend has turned the idea of a luxe outdoor experience from a paradox into a reality. Here are five places where incentive groups can partake:
• AutoCamp Yosemite (Midpines, California). From fashion to food, "retro" is in. Indicative of the trend is Airstream, whose iconic aluminum campers began rolling onto American roads in the 1930s and are so popular today that the company has had trouble meeting demand. At the brand-new AutoCamp Yosemite (pictured) -- which will debut in early June at the edge of Yosemite National Park, near the historic town of Mariposa -- groups can enjoy a full Airstream experience in one of 80 custom Airstream trailers, each of which features a queen-sized Tempur-Pedic memory-foam bed; a flat-screen TV with cable; heating and air-conditioning; a mini-fridge and microwave; a bathroom; a convertible sofa, and an outdoor deck and fire pit. The camp, which has a total of 102 accommodations, also offers luxury tents and cabins, a heated outdoor pool, a natural pond and a 4,000-square-foot, midcentury modern clubhouse where there are lounge areas with seating and an indoor fireplace; taps serving craft beer, kombucha and cold-brew coffee; a communal dining table, and space for meetings and events.
• Cloud Camp at The Broadmoor (Colorado Springs, Colorado). "Corporate" meets "camping" at The Broadmoor, home to Cloud Camp, an all-inclusive wilderness experience. Located at the top of nearby Cheyenne Mountain, which towers 3,000 feet above the resort at an elevation of 9,200 feet, it features accommodations for up to 56 guests, including six lodge guest rooms, 15 one- and two-bedroom cabins, and the Fire Tower Suite -- located atop a historic fire tower. To reach Cloud Camp, guests check in at The Broadmoor and can choose between being transported up in a four-wheel vehicle, on the back of a mule or by way of a guided three-hour hike. Once at camp, guests will hike in the Pike National Forest; eat s'mores nightly around a campfire; enjoy activities like birding, photo safaris, yoga and rock art; and assist the chef each evening with the preparation of "Social Hour" hors d'oeuvres.
• The Resort at Paws Up (Greenough, Montana).The Resort at Paws Up is home to six different luxury camping sites, the newest of which, North Bank Camp, opened in June 2017 with four two-bedroom tents and two three-bedroom tents. But these tents aren't the kind you buy at your local camping depot. Spacious and sumptuous -- totaling up to 1,220 square feet -- they've got beds with electric blankets, spa-like bathrooms with heated floors, daily full-service housekeeping, in-tent WiFi and furnished decks on which to enjoy beautiful Rocky Mountain vistas. Guests even have their own camping butler who tends to their every need. When they're not relaxing in their tent, attendees can gather at North Bank's Dining Pavilion, which features a large stone fireplace, bar seating and floor-to-ceiling sliding glass doors. Along with nightly bonfires, groups can enjoy outdoor activities like archery, horseback riding, mountain biking, skeet shooting, fly fishing and ATV tours, just to name a few.
• Brush Creek Ranch (Saratoga, Wyoming). For something truly unique, consider staying in a yurt -- a circular tent covered with animal skins or felt that was used by ancient nomads in Mongolia, Siberia and Turkey. Brush Creek Ranch in Wyoming's Platte River Valley has several of them, including the 705-square-foot Jim's Draw Yurt, which guests can reach by horseback for a gourmet meal and an evening of fireside stargazing. The ranch also has a 1,200-square-foot mountain overlook for mountaintop dining, cocktails and special events; a natural-stone amphitheater for outdoor performances and presentations, and a creekside dinner camp where groups can dine amid the gentle sound of rushing water. Accommodations include rooms at the main lodge, log cabins and Magee Homestead, a private cluster of seven cabins for groups of up to 24.
• Clayoquot Wilderness Resort (Vancouver Island, British Columbia). At Vancouver Island's Clayoquot Wilderness Resort, you can envelop yourself in the famously thick wilderness of British Columbia. A small "eco-safari-style" resort that's accessible only by seaplane, helicopter or boat, the resort offers 25 guest tents, each of which is equipped with a bed; an ensuite bathroom with a heated floor; a private outdoor shower; a remote-controlled, propane-fueled cast iron stove; vintage oil lamps, and antique furnishings. There also are two dining tents; a games tent; activity and billiards tents; a glass waterfront lounge; two outdoor lounges; and a spa with two saunas, three cedar hot tubs and a cold plunge tub. Available activities include whale and bear watching, horseback riding, fishing, kayaking, yoga and helicopter adventures.