BANNER ELK — Glamping may not be a familiar term for most Avery County residents, but if Chris Zecca has his way, many throughout the area will soon become accommodated with this new style of glamorous camping that Zecca is planning to bring to Banner Elk.
Glamping is a relatively recent trend that has become popular in the travel industry that seeks to combine the best elements of camping and sleeping out under the stars with the comforts of a luxury hotel experience. Zecca, who lives in High Point but owns 22 acres of land in Banner Elk, is looking to bring the unique lodging experience to the area.
“So the business model kind of works in two phases. One is for the glamping venue itself, and those are for overnight accommodations. Ideally, those would be for wedding guests or retreat participants, as well as for individuals looking for accommodations and want to do something different than stay at a hotel or lug all of their camping gear and set up a place in the woods,” Zecca said.
Zecca envisions his site to come with all of the amenities that travelers typically do not associate with regular camping, such as onsite toilets, running water and showers. As for the tents or rooms themselves, Zecca says they would be on raised platforms and fully equipped with a king-sized bed, electricity, heating and air conditioning. He added that he is also interested in partnering with local businesses to establish a take-out service or have a food truck on site.
Meanwhile, Zecca has been preparing the land for the business venture and says that he is planning on retiring in the area. The idea for the glamping business he said, came from his experience running a youth program with his church, as well as the many outdoor adventures and mission trips he helps the kids experience across the country. Zecca said the kids were a major inspiration for getting the project off the ground.
“They’ve been pressing me for the last couple of years to do this, and I’ve had them up here to camp and hang out, but they want a piece of the action and they would love to see this turn into a retreat venue as well,” Zecca said.
Part of the adventure for Zecca in pursuing the glamping project has been learning the ins and outs of starting a new business. A current employee for Verizon Wireless, Zecca previously served for 14 years in the US Air Force in the field of military intelligence and has also worked on communications satellites for the North Atlantic Treaty Organizations (NATO). Zecca said that local contacts for entrepreneurs, such as Economic Development Committee Chairman Ken Walter and Allen Cook with the Small Business Center at Mayland Community College, helped get him in touch with the right resources and people in order to begin bringing the first glamping business to the area.
“What I felt like was glamping was the least intrusive option and fit with the ethos of Banner Elk and would be something they would like to see,” Zecca said.
Zecca is looking at a tentative opening date of Summer 2022. He can be contacted by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.