Kathy adjusted immediately, clicking through the temperature control on the mattress warmer for our queen bed and browsing Costanoa's General Store, possibly the only sundry store in the world that sells locally produced wines and red chile dipping pretzels. But at first, I found Costanoa a strange place. The tents - canvas bungalows squatting on raised wood platforms - were sequestered about the 39-acre property at neat intervals in the high grass and connected by gravel roads with street signs, making the place look like a suburb where the landscapers had gone on strike. Sometimes you would see maids bumping along the road with cleaning carts and mops. And in the evening, campers wandered about in white bathrobes, a sort of Hugh Hefnerish version of Night of the Living Dead. They had probably just donned the terry cloth robes hanging in their tents to head to the communal bathrooms for a shower or sauna. Still, that first night I made it a point to lock our screen door.
Lying in bed, listening to the wind in the pines, I heard something even more terrifying.
"You may never get me sleeping on the hard ground again," sighed Kathy.
But I adjusted, mostly because Costanoa - located on the coast 25 miles north of Santa Cruz - is surrounded by glorious nature. Wisely, luxury camping purveyors have situated their camps amidst five-star natural surroundings. Maho Bay Camps in the Virgin Islands, for example, is nestled on a tropical hillside above a private beach where, just offshore, blue herons and brown boobies wheel above emerald waters. Such natural splendor allows the outdoor traditionalist to rationalize a pampered experience. Though the maid makes my bed in the morning and I forage for grub at a full-service deli with eighteen different cheeses, still I plunge headlong into nature.
At Costanoa, you can even schedule your nature. On the weekend we stayed there, organized activities included a naturalist-led nature walk, a kids' camp, a falconry presentation, and a sunset campfire.The adventure guide beside our bed also ladled us other options, from beach walks to opportunities for romantic trysts. "When the moon is bright and the night clear, grab the one you love, hit the camp store for herbal elixirs and essential oils, and follow one of Costanoa's backyard trails," was an intriguing option made slightly less appealing by the possibility of being happened on by one of the Bathrobe People.