Guest article by Rebecca West
Camping is a lot of work. An escape to the great outdoors may seem like a breath of fresh air, but many are put off by the lack of facilities and the effort associated with camping, and return home disappointed and devoid of motivation to ever go back.
“Glamping” is the modern equivalent of traditional tent camping, combining yesterday’s amenities with today’s technology. With special accommodations, glamorous camping has opened up the outdoor experience to those who were dissatisfied before now.
Austinites can glamp thanks to Chris Sawey and Co. Sawey, a Round Rock native, satisfies a craving for the outdoors and a penchant for high-end accessories people love to play with on vacation.
Given the aesthetic and artistry of his Austin glamping site, it’s obvious Sawey is not only extremely skilled, but also genuinely cool. But the real strength of this story lies in how these barracks came to be.
How It All Started
While traveling the country and working as a consultant for restaurants, Sawey got a call from a friend in Nashville who was seeking a partner for a food truck renovation. After a few exploratory phone calls, Sawey quit his job and, just like that, it was a thing.
The self-taught carpenter isn’t shy to acknowledge the workforce hardships and other troubles he battled coming out of college in mid-2013. He made the unique decision, originally intended to be a one-month trial, to live and consult out of his car, remaining hopeful for new opportunities.
The food truck venture was supposed to be his big ticket. “On the road, I worked out all the details, the pick-up, the exchange, the truck rental, the parking place, everything,” Sawey shared.
However, he faced another bump in the road when his partner decided to go in a different direction. Surprised and disheartened, he was already committed, so he took matters into his own hands. “I decided to buy the camper myself. But instead of a food truck, I would just remodel it into a tiny living space instead.”
But with the team cut in half, the resources were cut, too. In a panic to secure the camper, Sawey called to convince the owner to stick to the original purchasing plan, reworking each detail along the way. “For 15 weeks, through the mosquitos, the heat, and the elements, I lived out of the back of my Prius in Nashville, remodeling to what is now known as #MotelCamper.”
Though he grew up locally, Austin regulations regarding lodging had never played a role in Sawey’s past. One Craigslist post seeking real estate, and a few threats from local government later, the comfy camper opened shop legally, with the right zoning permits.
Tiny Living in Austin
Before the camper had even made its debut on Airbnb, plans to kick off the next project and build out the property were already in motion. The backyard glamp-site is now complete and home to #MotelCamper, #InstaInn, and the newest addition, #TheUrbanYurt.
With each new sleeping accommodation, new amenities are added. There’s an inviting and communal fire pit, private outdoor showers, and personal movie theaters. This place has it all, while still managing to maintain a local and artisan environment.
Chris now runs a small business called #HomeIsHowYouBuildIt. He and his team convert vans, buses, and campers for clients who want to live on the road, in style. Patrons are shocked to discover that Chris has no formal background in construction. His natural talent simply stems from minor Habit for Humanity volunteering and “This Old House” binge-watching in #HotelPrius.
Ready to Pack Your Bags?
Glamping is all about the experience–getting back to nature without getting back to the basics. For anyone looking for a unique, quirky outdoor experience, where creature comforts are standard, look no further than Sawey’s cool property.
Pack your bags, Austin.
@theAustinot wants to know:
Have you ever been glamping?
Rebecca West is a former Floridian with a flare for describing art and alcohol perfectly. She strings words together like it’s nobody’s business, but is too cool to rub it in your face.