Karl Plunkett was building eco resorts with high-end tents before the term glamping even existed.
He’s the brains behind Eco Structures Australia, which makes all those amazing glamping tents you see popping up in incredible locations across WA.
They supplied the new eco tents on Rottnest Island, the tent-style accommodation at Karijini Eco Retreat in Karijini National Park in the Pilbara and the cool accommodation on a Margaret River olive farm.
The Fremantle-based company is widely regarded for being one of the top high-end tent suppliers in the world and has grown from strength to strength over the past decade.
“I like to say we find different ways for people to sleep,” Karl says. “It’s what I’ve been doing since I arrived in Australia as a 21-year-old.”
Originally from the Isle of Man, Karl spent three years travelling the world as a backpacker, arriving in Broome in the late 80s and realised there was great potential to open a backpacker-hostel. And so he built Broome’s first backpacker hostel in 1988.
“I ended up opening the first backpackers in Broome at 21 years old,” Karl says. “Back then, everyone must have thought I was mad putting 12 bunk-beds in a room and expecting people to sleep there.”
However, after the success of this first endeavour, Karl went on to own another two backpackers in Broome before building the first Eco Beach Resort in 1996. Just four years after he opened the resort, a category-five cyclone tore across the coast and destroyed the property.
Despite being dealt this cruel blow, Karl didn’t let the incident defeat him. Instead, the trained builder decided to rebuild the resort with cyclone-proof tents.
“Designing these tents was really the beginning of Eco Structures,” Karl says. “From there, we got asked to build two resorts in China and one in the US Virgin Islands. It was then we realised the tent business could be quite big. Today, we have customers all over the world using our structures with 70 per cent of our business last year being international.”
From the sands of Oman and the jungles of Costa Rica, to the snowy Canadian Rockies and the mountains of China, each structure manufactured by Karl and his team is specifically designed to suit its environment, climate and terrain.
“Going back to what I said before, we simply find different ways for people to sleep,” Karl says.
“Sometimes that might be up amongst the trees, on the side of a cliff or on a faraway beach. Whatever the location, we go beyond the limits of conventional accommodation to help our customers deliver meaningful experiences to their guests.”
Whether you call them luxury safari tents or glamping tents, eco cabins or eco tents, Karl says this new wave of tourism is challenging the essence of how people travel and interact with unique landscapes.
“Let’s be honest, nobody really cares if you stayed on the sixth floor of a hotel in a room that was 46sqm,” he says. “But if you tell someone you stayed in a cool tent on an olive farm like Olio Bello in Margaret River, you’ll have more of a story to share because it’s a far more immersive experience.”
Although people glamp for the sense of adventure and relaxation, Karl says the accommodation aspect still plays a big role.
“Through building and running our own eco resort in Broome, we have extensive knowledge in the design and manufacture of luxury tents,” he says.
“People choose to build with us because of our knowledge and unparalleled insight into all aspects of the industry.”
Read the full article here: https://thewest.com.au/travel/adventure/ramping-up-the-glamping-c-4985319