A crackling flame on the glowing embers signals the last campfire of the evening. The forest is dark and quiet except for the presence of a barred owl nearby. The intimate comfort of the large comfy tent a few feet away, lit by a string of lights, promises another night of rest and relaxation after a full day of outdoor activities.
This is the essence of “glamping”, an enjoyable summer experience that goes beyond ordinary camping.
The rugged wood and canvas trapper-style tent, inspired by the French-Canadian trappers of yesteryear who depended on sturdy shelter to survive in the wilderness, is Huttopia Southern Maine’s signature accommodation in Sanford. Nestled in the pine and oak woods next to Sand Pond, the resort offers more than 80 tents and a handful of smaller cabins on the expansive grounds.
All Huttopia campsites are on one level and located a stone’s throw from the central car park around the main pavilion. After check-in, you’ll take a handcart and haul your belongings along the gravel paths to your stay. It doesn’t take much, really – a few clothes, food and personal effects – because by design Huttopia provides all the necessary camping gear.
Each Huttopia tent and cabin is equipped with electric lighting and heating, comfortable beds, bathroom and shower with linens and towels, full camp kitchen, mini fridge and a storage locker. Outside there is a table and chairs and a gas grill on the patio, as well as a fire pit, picnic table, folding chairs and a bundle of wood by the door.
“We want to bring people outside, connect them and reconnect them with nature,” said Margaux Bossanne, Huttopia Brand Manager. She is the daughter of the company’s founders, Céline and Phillipe Bossanne, who launched their business in France in 1999. Huttopia has since expanded to more than 60 destinations in Europe, Canada and the United States. The Sanford site opened in 2019.
“Huttopia offers simple ready-to-camp accommodation with a few extra touches that make it a little more comfortable,” Bossanne said.
The standard rate for a trapper-style tent for two adults — with electricity, bathroom, king bed and other amenities — is $540 for a two-night stay. Children under 18 stay free with adults, but there are also larger tents to accommodate families.
The lodge is Huttopia’s center of activity, and it’s here that you can hire a canoe or a stand-up paddle to discover Sand Pond, which is also a good fishing spot. There is also a sandy beach for swimming and sunbathing. There are board games in the lodge, or you can slip into the heated pool, lounge in a hammock, or play pétanque.
The lodge’s bistro serves breakfast, lunch and dinner with a French flair, so if you don’t feel like cooking in your tent, you don’t have to go far to eat well. The fresh and tasty menu includes brick-oven pizzas, sandwiches, salads and quiches, sweet and savory crepes, croissants, coffees and more, as well as local microbrews and French wines.
There’s plenty to keep you busy locally at Huttopia, that’s for sure, but being located in the heart of York County, it also makes a great base camp for exploring the region. For hikers, in particular, there is plenty to see and do, starting just around the corner with a short walk on the George E. Sweet Ecology Trail in one of the many reserves owned and managed by the Sanford -Springvale Mousam Way Land Trust.
The Bauneg Beg Mountain Conservation Area lies a few kilometers to the west. Under the guidance of the Great Works Regional Land Trust, the 870-foot summit rewards hikers with summit views from Mount Washington to the Atlantic. In total, the land trust has 18 nature reserves with trails in the area. Mount Agamenticus and its 40 miles of trails are close at hand, as are York Land Trust and Kittery Land Trust properties. Along the coast there are lovely walks in the Wells Reserve at Laudholm Farm and the Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge.
Huttopia Southern Maine is one of many glamping opportunities in Maine. It’s not just tents and cabins, but also yurts, tiny houses, treehouses and more, all centered around the simple pleasures of spending quality time outdoors with friends. and the family. Go glamping this summer; it’s good fun with a twist!
Mount Desert Island’s Carey Kish is an avid hiker and freelance writer. His latest book, “Beer Hiking New England”, will be available later this year. Follow Carey’s adventures on Facebook and Instagram @careykish
Canoeing in Maine: Exploring the Main Pond at Harmony