Kansas Citians no longer need to sacrifice a comfortable bed and running water to spend a night out in nature, said Tiffany Watts and Heather Shelton. Through glamping with Suite Tea, one can have the best of both worlds, the co-founders said.
“Our primary mission is to create an elevated, special experience for our guests. We’ve had so many incredible people reach out and want to be a part of our mission. I’m in awe of how quickly we were embraced,” said Shelton, who leads the hospitality company, Suite Tea, with Watts.
What is ‘Glamping?’
Glamping is a portmanteau of “glamorous” and “camping,” involves accommodation and facilities more luxurious than those associated with traditional camping.
It all started with a photo of a glammed-up tent, they shared. The duo — who have backgrounds in rental property management and real estate — realized there was an opportunity in the untapped market and teamed up earlier this year to pursue luxury camping.
“There was no hesitation,” Watts said. “We really knew that we needed to get this started as soon as possible. Now that it’s getting warmer, people are starting to make their way back outside. The timing really worked in our favor.”
Glamp-sites will be pitched and ready to go Friday, April 16 at the Watkins “C” Ranch in Kansas City, Kansas. It will feature six different sizes of tents and can accommodate a total of 44 guests.
Between the two co-founders and the owners of Watkins Ranch, they have received numerous requests to book campsites early, Watts said. To give all those interested a fair opportunity, Suite Tea will be releasing its calendar booking tool at midnight April 16.
Click here to be notified on the beginning of glamping season.
When looking to partner with various sites, it’s important to find people who share the same intention and vision as Suite Tea, Shelton said.
“We need to connect with businesses where all of our mission together is to create unique and powerful experiences,” she noted. “…With the Ranch, they were immediately on board.”
Through Watkins Ranch, glampers are expected to have access to horseback riding lessons and trail rides. Guests can also enjoy boho picnics, outdoor holistic massages and outdoor yoga classes led by local instructors.
“We’ve had a lot of people coming to us and asking how they can help make this awesome,” Watts said. “We’re still working on creating more experiences for our guests and will be listening to the feedback on what people want and love the most.”
Each glamp-site will have vintage-influenced furniture pieces with boho-inspired designs thanks to the creative eye of Watts, Shelton said. Sites will contain beds, a power generator, showers and a private restroom.
“Those are all camping-versions of those things,” Shelton noted. “You’re not so far removed from camping that it doesn’t feel anything like camping. You still feel very connected to nature. The property at Watkins Ranch is 28 acres of raw, undeveloped land with trees, creeks, hills and pastures. It’s like a sanctuary. It’s very much still a raw land experience in a truly luxurious manner.”
The duo already has a second site planned to open in May/June. It’s expected to contain its own unique experiences and atmosphere, they teased.
Check out a photo gallery from Suite Tea at Watkins “C” Ranch below, then keep reading.
Badass women in business
Both women have always pictured themselves as entrepreneurs, they shared.
“With a true entrepreneurial mindset, there’s nothing we can’t do,” Shelton said. “We found the logistics and finances to make it happen, and we’re going for it.”
Shelton and Watts have discussed what it means to be a Black-owned, women-led team, as it is a large part of their business identity, they said. With two other women joining Suite Tea’s team of four, they hope to inspire women of all backgrounds to unapologetically chase their dreams, they shared.
“We are here because we’re badass. We’re showing up. We’re not taking no for an answer,” Shelton said. “There was a long time when I felt like if I showed up authentically in a room, that somehow made me arrogant or bad. … I know now who I am, what’s important to me, and I don’t have to question my intentions.”
People have shared doubts if Suite Tea would be able to take off, said Watts, who also is the founder and CEO of Biin. But with a business partner as uplifting as Shelton and the motivation to be a role model for her entire family, Watts knows that glass ceilings are about to shatter.
“Raising a Black daughter and having her see her mother — a Black woman — doing something amazing like this, it’s huge,” Watts said through teary eyes. “It is so important for me to show up for my family and show them that they can pursue their passions. We don’t have to settle for a career that doesn’t fulfill us.”
Watts and Shelton make it a priority to take their daughters to the glam-sites as they are undergoing the construction and design process, they said.
“We’re here falling in the mud all day everyday,” Watts said, laughing. “But we want them to see that part. They can see us in articles, social media and those fun aspects — and also see how hard we’re working to bring our vision to life.”
This story is possible thanks to support from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, a private, nonpartisan foundation that works together with communities in education and entrepreneurship to create uncommon solutions and empower people to shape their futures and be successful.