“Tents are addictive,” says Anneke van Waesberghe, the founder of Escape Nomade, a Bali-based luxury tent manufacturer. For Anneke living in a tent equates to living without walls, both in the physical and psychological sense. According to her, the concept of living inside and outside simultaneously also means living in tune with nature, which in turn makes it easier to become aware of the present moment. Perhaps, this notion is what is making glamping, or glamorous camping, increasingly more popular on the island. The concept of no ties, no walls, and complete freedom without compromising on creature comforts such as a bathroom, air-conditioning and hot water is certainly an appealing one.
While most people opt to glamp at one of the resorts on the island for a night or two, others, like Anneke, are making a more permanent switch to tented accommodation. Anneke’s love affair with tents began when she decided to have one set up in a garden outside her studio to display the travel products that she was designing at the time. She then had a larger tent designed and installed close to the Ayung River in Ubud where she was planning to build her house. In the end, she never had the house built, and decided to put up more tents and live in them instead. Building on this passion, Anneke has been creating customized tent/house hybrids since 2004. “We have a team of in-house architects that work closely with each of our client in order to satisfy their requirements, keeping in mind any technical restrictions.”
Up to date, Escape Nomade has exported tents to over 19 countries including Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, Colombia, Portugal and Greece. While the tents may not be suitable for colder climates, they are quite versatile and sturdy. Designed to withstand sun, humidity, torrential rain and winds of up to 175 kilometers per hour, the tents can be installed on any terrain, be it the jungle or a concrete rooftop. The tents are constructed at Escape Nomade factories in Ubud and Banyuwangi in Java, and packaged in wooden crates for shipping—no plastic or styrofoam is used during transportation. Once installed, the structures can stand up to 20 years, and can be easily packed and moved if required.
The first step of taking an order for a tent is working out how it will be used—a residential property, an overnight guesthouse, a spa tent or a venue for weddings being some of the most common requests—and where it will be installed. Anneke’s team then looks at how to minimize the impact of the tent on the surrounding landscape before helping the client to decide on the size of the structure—the tents range between 25 and 150 square meters. After that, the client is guided through selecting wall panel configurations, door and window placement, as well as flooring and rooftop options. “Most clients request to bring one of our project managers to the site, so that they can help with the one-day installation process,” Anneke says.
Made from recyclable galvanized steel, sustainably-harvested hardwood and high-quality canvas, the tents are environmentally-friendly and energy efficient. They are designed to draw cool air from underneath the bed or deck, and expel hot air through cross-ventilated spaces and a roof ventilation system, often making air-conditioning unnecessary. Compared to brick and mortar buildings, the amount of time and materials, as well as man hours, taken to build tented accommodation is minimal. “The construction utilizes natural materials so as not to disturb the surrounding nature, keeping in mind sustainability, cost and availability. Plus, the tents are low maintenance, and the products we use for cleaning are all natural,” Anneke says. “And the structures can be taken down in half a day, and once the concrete foundation is taken away there is no sign that the structure was even every there.”
There is little doubt that tented accommodation has come a long way since the days of boy scout tents. Escape Nomade is not just about seeing, touching, smelling and hearing the surrounding nature, but also about sleeping in comfort. “Our clients come to us with a dream and I love to help them make that dream come true,” Anneke says. “Some of them wish to build a resort, others decide to live in a tent, as I do. Whether private clients or big companies, however, our clients all have something in common: an interest in the environment and luxury, and the desire to lead a better life amid nature.”
Those wishing to check out Escape Nomade’s semi-permanent tents can visit the Sanctuary, Anneke’s private tent compound in Ubud. Set along the Ayung River, the Sanctuary offers a number of tented experiences, including high tea, spa treatments, picnics, and four-course dinners.