Northeast News | Glamping brings the Swope Park camp back to life

Abby hoover

Suite Tea, the Kansas City-based hotel company known for its elevated camping suites and unique experiences, proudly announced its new partnership with Kansas City, Mo., Parks and Recreation, making way for a glamping village in the heart of Kansas City at Swope Park.

Tea at Camp Suite Lake of Woods is Swope Park will include a total of six glamping suites that can accommodate up to 26 people. The Whole Person was on hand to visit the suite which will be made accessible to people with disabilities.

“Glamping” is a campsite with additional comforts and accommodation. Suite Tea offers spacious and upscale bell tents with large memory foam beds and gadgets such as generators and air conditioners to help both beginners and camping experts alike enjoy their experience during each trip. stay.

The camp is located within walking distance of other Swope Park activities like the Go Ape Zipline and Adventure Park, Swope Memorial Golf Course, a short drive from the Kansas City Zoo, Starlight Theater, Miles of hiking and biking trails, and ideally located for downtown Kansas City, stadiums and other metro attractions.

“We are very happy to partner with Suite Tea here, it is a local business run by two women,” said Roosevelt Lyons, Interim Director of KC Parks. “We are happy to have people who not only know the park, who enjoy the park, but who will add something to the park here. We are grateful for their hearts for this region.

Co-founders Tiffany Watts and Heather Shelton opened their first glamping site at Watkins “C” Ranch in Kansas City, Kansas, in mid-April 2021, and have since built a strong team of employees and investors.

“We are so grateful to be here,” Shelton said. “When we started Suite Tea, we really had no idea where we were going and where we were going to end up, so when the opportunity arose to partner with Kansas City Parks and Rec, the amazing Leslie Alford, we were honestly in shock. “

Shelton described their high glamping experience as all the best parts of the campsite with the amenities and accessibility of other vacation rentals.

They saw it as an opportunity to bring whatever they wanted to bring to their community in a very personal way. Each suite will have its own identity and distinctive decor, offering guests a little something different to expect in each village.

“It’s great to be so connected to everything in this place right here,” Watts said. “You get a sense of nature and beauty, you can just indulge in it while you’re here, then you can just go out and say, ‘Here’s it! “”

Plus, the scenic park will take visitors off the beaten track and immerse them in one of Kansas City’s crown jewels.

“As far as I’m concerned, one of the best reasons for this is for a lot of our urban families who don’t always have the opportunity to go outside, who don’t always have access, it gives them a really easy and fun place. , social way of doing it, ”Lyons said. “Maybe you don’t have a rucksack and rucksack or fishing rods needed to camp, but you can come here in your own backyard… and just enjoy the outdoors and all the perks. of nature.”

Swope Park contains one of the only limestone mesic forests and wetlands in the country, which Lyons said is very important to preserve. The group has undergone environmental impact studies and made arrangements so as not to interfere with the habitat.

Lake of the Woods is an artificial lake created over a century ago, according to an article by Kansas City historian David Jackson.

“A horseshoe-shaped lagoon was excavated in the early spring of 1908, and the reservoir that was to feed it was formed by building a huge dam 35 feet high and nearly 100 feet long across a small branch through which the waters of the Big Blue River escaped into a natural basin, “Jackson wrote in 2020.” The water surface area of ​​Lake of the Woods is 10 acres. The lagoon, which is 6 feet lower than the lake, is 25.5 acres (it is exactly one mile long around its outer shore).

A 1908 Kansas City Times article reported, “It sits in a hollow encircled by a chain of low hills a quarter of a mile south of the park’s suspension bridge over the Blue. The hillsides are covered with dense vegetation of trees which extends to the edge of the water. In summer, their overhanging branches will form shaded retreats for canoeists explorers to enter. A row around the lagoon, three-quarters of a mile in extent, across the channel and to the far southeastern corner of the meandering lake will provide an afternoon of exercise for the hardiest paddler.

As the landscape and the road map changed over the decades that followed, generations of Kansas citizens discovered a love of nature at Swope Park. Suite Tea co-founder and CEO Tiffany Watts grew up visiting Swope Park, and now she’s returning to hike Camp Lake of the Woods with her mom and daughter. One of their hikes about a year ago inspired Watts to find a way to fix the cabins at Blue Mills at Camp Lake of the Woods, one of two residential camps sponsored by the city of Kansas City in the years. 60, 70 and 80.

“Here is a year later, we have this opportunity to come to our city and make an impact, so we’re very excited, so full of gratitude, and my cup is so full,” Watts said. “It’s huge for us. It is a dream come true for all of us.

Lake of the Woods Camp was a general residential camp, offering activities such as swimming, horseback riding, and archery. It consisted of Franklin and Kaw Landings, for older boys and girls, respectively, and Westport and Blue Mills for younger campers.

A portion of the proceeds from each stay will go towards the rehabilitation of the Blue Mills cabins at Camp Lake of the Woods, which are now dilapidated and unusable.

“I never imagined I would do something like this here,” Watts said. “Tents are huge for us, no, but being able to take the Blue Mills cabins and revitalize them is a dream come true for me.”

They received a huge response from people sharing memories of Camp Lake of the Woods and were inspired by the history and potential of the cabins.

“It’s such an important part of what Kansas City is, it brings so much value to the city and for years not many people have come to Swope Park and Camp Lake of the Woods as much as over the years , things have passed, and now we can bring Swope Park back to life, ”said Watts.

Regarding safety, Watts said when camping people should always be aware of the risks, but the camp is generally quiet. A park warden lives nearby in the camp and the gate at the entrance is locked at night for security reasons.

“We believe in people and people are inherently good,” Watts said. “We believe in Kansas City and the people of Kansas City. They have supported us in such a big way – great support – so we’re going to take it step by step and see how it goes. We are not naive that something can happen.

Imagining the new opportunities this reconstruction will bring to Kansas Citians and historic Swope Park, Watts and Shelton plan to begin renovations this year and expect to be able to offer both tent glamping and cabin stays in The Blue Mills cabins at the start of their spring 2022. season.

They will be offering reservations, which opened on June 25 on,
until October 31.

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