With its gussied-up Airstreams, AutoCamp takes glamping to new heights, and interest in these nature-driven destinations only swelled during the pandemic. Since its debut in Santa Barbara, the brand has also popped up in California’s Russian River Valley and Yosemite National Park—both courtesy of San Francisco studio Geremia Design and Santa Barbara-based Anacapa Architecture—and there are plans for locations in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, and New York’s Catskills from Workshop/APD, along with outposts in Joshua Tree, California, and Zion National Park in Utah, both the handiwork of HKS Architects and San Francisco-based Narrative Design Studio. Here, chief brand officer Ryan Miller discusses AutoCamp’s ethos and why the brand acted as a pandemic salve.
How has AutoCamp evolved?
When we first opened the property in Santa Barbara, we knew we wanted to open more AutoCamps. It had such magic to it. There were a couple years of trial and error and honing in on what the concept is. There was a moment in early 2015 when we had our great pivot: this is an outdoors concept.
What inspired the clubhouse?
We put this huge wishlist together: We need a place for people to check in. We want to have a place for morning coffee service. We wanted a lobby culture. We now have an all-day dining menu and a general store. We looked at various [ideas for the design], but when we saw the flat roof, midcentury modern, indoor/outdoor pavilion drawn up, [we knew] that was the direction we had to go. Part of our ethos is community and we feel we can build connection in the design. In our upcoming projects, there is definitely a balance between the AutoCamp brand standards and the local aesthetic. That’s evident at Joshua Tree, where we are doing twin Quonset hut buildings [as the] clubhouse. It’s a big leap.
What influence did AutoCamp have on guests in 2020?
COVID-19 has accelerated the adoption and interest in outdoor hospitality. People are looking for that health- and wellness-focused vacation where they can come home feeling better and more rejuvenated than when they arrived. It confirmed how strong our business model is, and also how much impact we can make on people’s lives. We read all the guest comments and it’s amazing to see, especially after a year of COVID, [whether it’s a] solo getaway or a family trip, that this is the thing they needed. They practically write love letters.
A version of this article was originally published by Hospitality Design.