Activities / Experiences / New York City / Travel

Glamping in the City – Collective Retreats Governors Island

07.22.18

A quick ferry ride from downtown Manhattan can now bring you to a peaceful glamping oasis that is nestled near the hills of historic Governors Island. Yes, you read that right – glamorous camping, otherwise known as GLAMPing, has made its way to New York City, These unique accommodations offered by Collective Retreats are more luxurious then most NYC apartments. (Seriously!) It’s a staycation retreat that feels 1,000 miles away from the city with a view unlike any other in the world. Welcome to Collective Retreats Governor’s Island.

Glamping in the City

Outside of these perfectly erected tents is something so spectacular a typical camper would never ever dream to expect: unparalleled, jaw-dropping views of the Statue of Liberty,  and the twinkling lights of the Manhattan skyline, all from your tent! It is truly a bucket-list experience that everyone must witness – and the best part? It’s great for kids. Read on as we go behind the tents and highlight the entire experience of this amazing new island oasis.

Island Time

Just where and what is Governors Island? Governors Island is a 172 acre island in the heart of New York Harbor. It’s only 800 yards from Lower Manhattan, but a world away from city living. This car-free sanctuary is filled with (gorgeous!) rolling green hills, bike paths, amazing playgrounds and slides, incredible restaurants, and unparalleled views of the Statue of Liberty and the Manhattan skyline. Dubbed the “Central Park of Lower Manhattan,” this amazing recreational island and culinary destination (Island Oyster!) must be accessed by ferry – which is a fun ten minute adventure in itself, and super easy (and offers amazing views of the Statue of Liberty).

The island offers tons of kid-friendly activities, including mini golf, ziplining,  rock climbing and even ice skating (yes, ice skating!). There is a Farm and Teaching Garden with goats and chickens, water sprinkler pools, playgrounds and climbing apparatuses. Rent a bike (many rental companies are on the island) and explore the hills, the slides, take in an art show, or just simply take a ride around one of the most picturesque islands there is. A trip here wouldn’t be complete without a (very easy) hike to the top of The Hills for a view that you will never forget.

Behind the Retreat

This is not the first campsite from Collective Retreats, who have become a top company in the glamping field since opening their first site in Vail in 2015. They currently have glamping experiences in Vail, the Hudson Valley, Yellowstone Park and Hill Country. The Governors Island retreat has room for around 100 guests, making it the biggest outpost so far for the company. There are 10 large Summit Tents and 27 smaller Journey Tents, and 1 large main tent dubbed Three Peaks Lodge which holds reception as well as the on-site restaurant.

The Campground Retreat

The Governors Island site is conveniently located near to The Hills, and perfectly perched between between views of the Statue of Liberty and Lower Manhattan. Collective retreats Governors Island isn’t just a camp site. There are countless activities on site, including croquet, corn hole, and (large/over-sized) Jenga and lounge chairs are available on the sprawling lawn. Scrabble, Uno, and other games were available inside the main tent. A small library of books (including great Governors Island history selections) were available for guests enjoyment as well.

Inside the Tents

The masterfully designed interiors are fully equipped with luxurious bedding, electricity, and even a city dwellers favorite (and needed) drink of choice: coffee! Each room or outfitted with (included) water bottles, and lantern lights that you may borrow that help you find your way around the site at night. There are two types of glamping options to to suit any price point or family size need. We stayed in a Journey Tent during out visit – which can be configured in either 1 Queen or 2 Twin Beds, and are best suited for 2 guests. The Journey Tents do not have an in-suite bathroom, but we didn’t find this to be an issue as they were only a few steps away if needed (no porta-pots here – showers as well as bathrooms are located in large luxury trailers). More on the Journey Tent:

JOURNEY TENT
  • Queen bed or two single beds
  • 1,000 thread-count linens, down comforter, and designer-curated blanket
  • Electricity and ample bedside sockets to charge gadgets
  • Large cooler with ice packs for storage
  • A small safe for valuables and wallets
  • Fans and heating elements
  • Plush Turkish towels
  • Shared bathroom with private toilets and showers
  • Prices start at about $175 a night

Collective Retreats also offer (much larger) Summit Tents.

  • King bed or two single beds (a roll-away bed can be added upon request at an additional cost)
  • Private, in-suite bathroom with rain-style shower, full flush toilet, and hot running water
  • Complimentary daily breakfast and campfire s’mores kit
  • Environmentally-friendly spa bath products and amenities, spa robes, and plush Turkish towels
  • As well as all of the amenities of the Journey Tent as listed above
  • Prices can reach as high as $750 a night for prime days/weekends

At least once a month the retreat will offer a weekday discounted rate for the select service tents, that start at $75 per night.

 

When Night Falls

Magic comes over the camp grounds as night falls.   On a clear day these unique vistas provide awe inspiring city skyline sunsets (that could change any non-camper into a believer in no time!).

As the campsite is unrestricted in the view – the stunning sunsets here truly overtake the entire campsite, highlighting the Statue of Liberty and the city skyline with the One World Trade building. Sunset views from dinner at the on-site restaurant are unworldly, or enjoy a sunset views directly from your tent that will surely be a memory you will never forget.  As night fell during our stay we enjoyed a twinkling night sky of stars overhead, saw dozens of fireflies, and fell asleep to a chorus of birds chirping from the sky. It felt like (real!) camping, and millions of miles way from lower Manhattan.

For entertainment the campsite offers lawn games, a nighttime bonfire, with fun smores packages for purchase (free for Summit Tents).

 

The food served at Collective Retreats couldn’t be further from a typical campsite pork and bean menu. Three Peaks Lodge offers a traditional restaurant experience , and is helmed by an onsite extraordinary chef that creates mutli-course menus for all guests.  Harbour side BBQ more your style? Collective retreats will prepare you a harbour side BBQ box-to-go , and even start the grill for you (and come get you when the coals are ready). Take away menu  with salads sandwiches and snacks is available for island exploring as well.

The Collective Breakfast was our personal favorite, with a mix of bagels and pastries, pancakes, eggs, and breakfast meats – all prepared fresh (and seriously were some of the best pancakes we have ever had). The retreat also offers a breakfast in bed option for those who would rather eat in their tent.

Water and coffee are available throughout the day in the main tent, and are free of charge.

Know Before you Go:

  • Dates fill up fast, be sure to make your reservation in advance online.
  • Governors island is MASSIVE and if you are hoping to explore multiple areas, it is best to bring a bike or a scooter for little adventurers.
  • Collective Retreats offers free Golf Cart rides to the site for guests.
  • The on-site restaurant is open to the public during Governors Island operating hours.
  • At the time of writing there was no alcohol yet served on site but they were expecting to have soon (they were awaiting the liquor license approval).
  • While the tents are luxurious, there are no TVs or screens. Consider bringing an ipad or similar for little ones for a special nighttime movie.
  • We enjoyed the birds night music, but it could be distracting for some. Ear plugs and/or noise cancelling headphones should be packed just in case needed.
  • Depending on the day of the week Governors Island may close a bit early (some days until 6:00pm, until 10:00pm on certain weekend days). Once the island closes it is important to note that all guests must remain on the campsite through the evening, and cannot leave.
  • After sunrise the island is completely yours to explore – BEFORE the island opens its doors (completely free of people!).  A magical experience that you must take advantage of.

Collective Retreats Governors Island 

More on Collective Retreats Governors Island and to make camping reservations HERE
Read more on what Governors Island has to offer HERE