FARGO — When camping, do you expect to wake up smelling like French milled lavender soap rather than campfire smoke and bug spray?
Will your breakfast in the wild consist of real espresso and fresh-made crepes vs. tepid Sanka and cold Pop Tarts?
Do you consider yourself to be “roughing it” if you only pack two flattening irons and your “casual heels” for a weekend campout?
If so, you are a glamper — a luxury-seeker who likes to combine camping with glamour and comfort.
Which means Judy Hultin and Janet Asch just might have the perfect camp setting for you.
Two years ago, the identical twins unveiled a new business, Fargo Glamping . The service allows campers to honor their inner Kardashians by choosing from an array of luxurious campsites, then sitting back while Fargo Glamping sets up their tents and beds, adds cozy touches like plush pillows and spa kits, and takes down everything once the glampers are done.
“It has to be slightly over the top,” says Asch, when explaining their elaborate settings. “We wouldn’t hire us if it was just a tent with a sleeping bag,” Hultin adds.
Billed as “the ultimate sleepover for all ages,” the service seems to appeal to a wide demographic: From moms craving a “girls’ night in” and couples seeking a romantic setting to kids celebrating birthdays or graduates who want a daytime “hangout tent” during their graduation parties.
They say kids’ birthdays probably make up the bulk of their business, especially among time-strapped parents who love the thought of a new type of soiree which requires minimum prep on their end.
“A lot of parents are like, ‘Oh this is just easy,’” Hultin says. “It’s something new,” Asch adds.
If kids are especially young, they can include a larger bed for a mom so everyone feels safe.
“We change it to whatever they need,” Hultin says. “We’ll cater to them. We just have so much stuff that we can do whatever fits them.”
The brainstorm of two happy campers
Dressed in matching hot-pink “Fargo Glamping” T-shirts and cropped pants, Hultin and Asch know each other so well that they finish each other’s sentences.
These two peas in a pod were well-suited to start a business together. The women — who conveniently live just five minutes apart in south Fargo — share a love of camping and home-decorating. Both have graphic design backgrounds, which has honed their flair for color, texture and design.
The sisters remember the early fall day in 2020 when Hultin first brought up the idea to Asch.
As the “older” (well, 2 minutes older) of the two, Hultin is the one more likely to think and ponder whether to pursue an idea. But Asch is a “get ‘er done” type and immediately started researching options.
In the process, they realized the region was devoid of glamping, with the exception of one small business in the Twin Cities area.
“By the end of the first week, we had already ordered our first bell tent,” Asch says, laughing.
Their initial thought was to do outdoor glamping only. But they realized this would seriously shorten customers’ glamping windows, so added an indoor option.
They now offer 13-foot and 23-foot bell tents made of water-repellent, army duck canvas. When warmed with the electric space heaters they also provide, these tents will stay toasty in their outdoor glamping season, which stretches from early May to late October.
The high-end tents also stand strong gainst the orneriest of North Dakota winds, as proven during a recent farmyard glamping experience in which there were few trees to block the elements, they say.
“We use the best tents out there,” Asch says.
Themes for every season and reason
When winter rolls around, they rely on an army of small, one-person tents to bring their glampsites indoors. Now November through January has become one of their busiest seasons, the sisters say.
The creative duo offers nine or 10 different themes, with endless options for variations. Their most-requested one is “Pretty in Pink,” which combines girly touches like dusty-rose comforters, sleeping cloud stuffies, sequined pillows, floral garland and other cottage-y touches.
The tents also can be decorated with themes ranging from an African safari or “Northwoods” cabin to an oceanside cabana.
All contain cozy details like chairs, ottomans, little tables or breakfast trays, blankets, pillows, garlands, string lights and electric candles and lanterns. Thoughtful touches like little games or healthy snacks are typically included.
The beds are made of high-quality memory foam, so there’s no squeaky air mattresses which slowly deflate throughout the night.
And those beds are made with real linens, plush blankets and enough pillows to keep the protagonist from “The Princess and the Pea” happy.
Customers can also opt for “glamping add-ons,” including use of a Polaroid camera with film, a karaoke machine with miniature dance floor, spa baskets and robes, and personalized balloon stuffies (large balloons filled with stuffed animals and other treats).
“We’re really into personalizing it,” Hultin says, adding that they will work with clients to ensure they get whatever package best suits their wants and needs.
Not easy to make glamping look easy
In the past year or so, the sisters estimate they’ve thrown about 150 glamping parties. At the height of their busyness, they had numerous glamping sites — totalling 23 beds — throughout Fargo in one night.
“I think we accidentally overbooked,” Hultin says. “We won’t do that again,” Asch adds.
There’s enough business out there to justify buying more tents, but they say they don’t have the manpower.
After all, it takes a lot of behind-the-scenes work to make glamping work. The sisters point out that their family and teenagers are instrumental in helping with set-up and take-down, which is no small task when some of the tents weigh as much as 200 pounds.
Most of their customers are in Fargo, West Fargo, Horace, Moorhead and Dilworth, although they will travel as far as an hour from their homes to arrange a glampsite.
However, some of their glampers live much farther away.
Like the New Orleans couple who found their website before traveling through Fargo and booked a spot at Lindenwood Park to celebrate their fifth wedding anniversary.
The husband, Will Glass, left a five-star review that read: “When I tell you that the inside of this tent was nicer than the hotel we stayed in the previous night, I mean it. It was super cozy with amazing professional decor, snacks, water, fun lights, electricity to charge phones, comfy chairs, and real beds with lots of blankets … it made it one of our best vacations ever … They even arranged the campground booking for us since we were out of towners.”
While their business has helped put glamping on Fargo’s map, many clients still struggle with the idea that camping could be so, well, easy.
“It’s so funny how many times we’ve answered the question, ‘Do we need to bring our own pillows and sleeping bags?’” Asch says, laughing. “And I’ll think, why do you want to be hiring us? Then you’ll have to bring all your own stuff.”
Learn more about Fargo Glamping at www.Fargoglamping.com