Wait, KOA Has Gone… Bougie?
The brand’s glamping glow-up looks good.
What could be called the Airbnb of camping, KOA has campsites for rent that admittedly are not all created equal. There's one not far from my parents' house, for example. It's tiki-themed—matching the aesthetic of the nearby waterpark—and full of RVs from the '90s and Coleman tents from Wal-Mart. The amenities can all be found at the check-in kiosk. It's about what you might think you'd expect from a KOA.
Until now. KOA suddenly and wonderfully stepped up their game by an exponent or two. Their Terramor Outdoor Resort—steps from Acadia National Park in Maine—is all about luxury in the outdoors, cementing the beloved brand in the Instagram big leagues. Popping up amongst the trees, 64 canvas tents come replete with queen and king beds, Pendleton blankets, Frette linens, pour-over coffee, screened-in porches, immaculate bathrooms, and decorative touches straight out of any coffee-table book starring Johanna Gaines.
While other KOAs certainly venture beyond the tentpad (think train cars, treehouses, and wagons), Terramor marks a renaissance: KOA's gone bougie. And this is just the beginning.
The KOA Glow-Up
Upgrading the former Bar Harbor/Woodlands KOA campground in the Maine woods—which used to be 100+ sites for tents and RVs—Terramor stretched its glamping canvas across 45 acres. They even planted some 1,500 trees to further privatize each already forested lot.
“We spent days out here staking tents to make sure that each one’s view didn’t look directly into another,” says Whitney Scott, COO of Terramor. For maximum forest-viewing, the tents face different directions—some even backwards. “A few are for groups and flipped around, but the privacy is built in. The best part of the tent experience is looking out.”
“Terramor” is a portmanteau of the Latin words “terra” and “amor,” to mean “love of the land.” Which is to say, the longstanding brand’s humble, outdoorsy roots aren’t forgotten here. Just like the focus on the views and the deep-in-the-trees, hit-the-gravel feeling, the resort offers nature trails, free binoculars, telescopes, and nightly activities like guided stargazing. “The Outfitter,” aka the concierge, is there to help guests get outdoors, from bike trails to paddling adventures to hiking in Acadia National Park.
Speaking of Acadia—the resort nabbed a coveted stop on the Island Explorer bus line. Steps from your tent, you can hop on the bus from 8am to 5pm and get promptly whisked away to Bar Harbor’s Village Green. From there, you can hitch a ride to almost anywhere in the park, from the Schoodic Peninsula to Jordan Pond to the ferry terminal for the Cranberry Islands. As both Acadia’s visitation numbers and rental-car prices climb, the bus is a hassle-free and sustainable way to experience one of the country’s NPS faves. And get this: It’s free.
Note: Sorry, Hertz and Enterprise: For those flying in, a shuttle runs from Bangor to Bar Harbor five days a week.
The Terramor Experience
Here’s the nuts and bolts of what you’re probably wondering. A stay at Terramor averages around $450/night, with tents coming in two- and five-person setups. A few have outdoor showers in addition to the private, in-tent bathrooms. All have screened-in porches and private fire pits and sitting areas, with firewood accessible at various huts across the resort. Even equipped with WiFi, the only standard amenities you’ll be missing are drywall and air conditioning—the latter of which you likely won’t need in the cool Maine air.
When you’re not in your tent—or sitting by your fire—the $2.1-million, nearly 5,000-square-foot lodge offers a substantial complimentary breakfast, local fare for dinner at Kitchen , espresso drinks, board games, and “Maine Hour,” or happy hour with a focus on Maine’s best libations.
There’s also a pool with adult hours, cornhole, bocce, a dog park, yoga, in-tent massage services, and complimentary s’mores nights at the lodge’s public fire pit. And if you’re wondering about weddings, prep your pages, Vogue: the pavilion has all the chandeliers and fireplaces a bride could ever need.
Lastly, if you’re new to dirty boots and firewood, it’s important to note that you’re still starting in the understanding hands of KOA. “Campers are not our demographic,” says Scott. Before you arrive, you’ll receive videos via text on how to best use and operate your tent—the resort even offers skills demos, like for building campfires or working a grill, for true first-timers. As Scott points out, “This is very much about an unintimidating introduction into the outdoors.”
KOA’s Luxury Expansion
Yes, more Terramors are in the works. Mum’s the current word when it comes to the where, but we know the why: reception has been nothing short of glorious. Visitors’ stays clock in longer than the average (3.5 nights) and return visitors are commonplace; at 85, the resort’s Net Promoter Score (NPS)—a scale to understanding customer satisfaction—is higher than Mount Katahdin.
With results like that, no one can blame the former meat-and-potatoes brand for chasing the glow of string lights. And while glamping will always have its haters—shouldn’t the outdoors be affordable?—it does open up nature to newbies, to the disabled, and could it even ease the Airbnb burden in small tourist towns?
That’s all up for debate, but here’s what we do know when it comes to Terramor: “By 2025, we plan to have three in operation, with eight in the pipeline by 2030,” says Scott. Each will play to its surroundings, using local materials and native landscaping, concentrating on beloved outdoor spots across America. Will it be Joshua Tree? The Adirondacks? Wherever Terramor winds up, KOA’s new image is here to stay.