They fell in love, they studied abroad, they learned more about the their trades, and now they have started two businesses together. Bobby and Emma Frisch have been very busy over the past few years with starting an eco-supporting boutique hotel and café in the heart of Matagalpa, Nicaragua and now bringing some of the first ever glamping to the U.S., with Firelight Camps in Ithaca, New York.
For those not familiar, Glamping is a term derived from the two words “glamorous camping”. Glamping is also referred to as “glam camping”, “lux camping”, “luxury camping” and many other similar phrases. Regardless of the specific terminology, the idea is the same; glamping brings the world of luxury into nature in the most seamless way possible.
Glamping has origins in Africa and Thailand, but is relatively new to the U.S. and Europe. Most people want the feeling of falling asleep under the stars and being in nature without having to sleep on rocks to do it. Glamping allows for just that. It lets guests to be one with nature, while still enjoying the luxury of a bed and pre-pitched tent. Bobby and Emma have brought the idea of glamping to life in the Northeast with Firelight camps.
“We have always loved how the serenity and relaxing nature of a campfire has brought people of all ages together,” said Bobby, Firelight Camps CEO. “That, along with our passion for eco-tourism sparked the idea for Firelight Camps.”
They got their start while traveling abroad for their respective skills. Bobby is in business and taught micro enterprise and entrepreneurship to high school students and women in the Nicaragua area during his service with the Peace Corps. Emma is all about food and farming. She has traveled throughout the Northeast U.S., Kenya and the Ecuadorian Andes building farm-to-city relationships for families, schools, universities and hospitals. It was during her time working in Latin America that Emma honed in on her love for cooking, rock climbing and eco-friendly tourism. The couple brought their passions together to start their first hotel and café “La Buena Onda” in Matagalpa and partnered with coffee cooperatives, a local chocolate factory, artisan groups, and outdoor adventure guides to bring eco-tourism activities to their guests.
While they thoroughly enjoyed their time in Latin America, the couple returned to the states and moved to Ithaca to create a new hotel that would have an impact closer to home. Bobby received his MBA from the Johnson School of Management at Cornell and continued to travel abroad learning more about the eco-tourism industry. Emma worked with Contentment Camping at Bonaroo Music Festival, helping to launch a village of glamping tents for the festival goers, as well as starting a food blog and being a top finalist on the show “Food Network Star”. During this time the business plan for what would soon be known as Firelight Camps, was created.
“We thought the Finger Lakes would be the perfect place to launch Firelight Camps,” said Emma. In 2014, Wine Enthusiast voted New York State Wine Region of the Year, of which the Finger Lakes is a major contributor. “Our community is so supportive of young entrepreneurs, and there was a wealth of knowledge and resources here to help us build the camp. The Finger Lakes is one of the oldest and most vibrant food and farming regions in the country, and is quickly becoming known as an agritourism destination. It’s also home to an astonishing number of waterfalls and lakes, which is a huge attraction for outdoor lovers.”
Bobby and Emma brought their passions together to create something entirely new and with that, glamping in the Finger Lakes region was born. Firelight Camps opened its first year with six tents and a small lobby tent, but has now expanded since growing in popularity. There are currently 15 safari styled tents with hardwood floors, a king or queen bed, furniture inspired by camps around the world and a covered porch.
Guests can also enjoy the camps bathhouse, lobby and lounge where a locally-inspired continental breakfast is served, happy hour featuring Finger Lakes wines, beers, ciders and spirits, bocce ball and a phone charging area. The Bistro at La Tourelle, John Thomas Steakhouse and August Moon Spa are located on the property. Many of their guests take waterfall hikes in their backyard of Buttermilk Falls State Park. All of these amenities as well as the beautiful areas of the Finger Lakes and Greater Ithaca, allow for guests to enjoy a new style of camping without roughing it.
To find out more about Firelight Camps or book your next weekend get away and camping trip visit firelightcamps.com