Edinburgh-based glamping startup opens first office in Dubai

An Edinburgh glamping site design consultancy is going global with the opening of its first office in Dubai.

The duo set up North Coast 500 Pods in Achmelvich, Sutherland
The duo set up North Coast 500 Pods in Achmelvich, Sutherland

The international expansion of Glampitect comes after a period of rapid growth for the Edinburgh-based business, set up 18 months ago by friends Calum MacLeod and Alisdair Young

From Brora to Bournemouth, the start-up has already been involved in more than 200 glamping projects across Britain.

With a growing team of specialist architects and consultants, the firm helps clients through design of sites, from conception to completion including planning permission, building warrant and site set-up.

Calum MacLeod will be based in Dubai and hopes to build a team of consultants

The duo decided to branch out into UAE as the first stage of a planned global expansion. Next they have their sights set on destinations such as Ireland, Australia and the USA.

Dubai facilities will comprise luxury canvas lodge-style units measuring up to 40 square metres, all with air conditioning, en-suite bathrooms and the latest in five-star amenities.

Mr MacLeod, 27, said: “It’s really exciting to be entering this growth phase. It was always my plan to expand into the UAE but the pandemic has accelerated things a bit quicker than I had anticipated.”

“The growth of glamping, or eco resorts as they call them in the Middle East, is massive and like in the UK, demand is far outstripping supply. In fact, the demand in Dubai is probably greater than anywhere else in the world right now and our expertise is helping people establish these sites as a business so it is a good fit for us.”

“Our group has grown rapidly, and we now have a strong team of architects, site designers, glamping feasibility experts, marketers and site set-up consultants. A glamping site requires careful planning, a flexible mindset and experts like us to guide people through the process.”

The young entrepreneurs began their glamping journey nearly two years ago in the Highlands when they partnered together to set up North Coast 500 Pods in Achmelvich, Sutherland.

“We set up our own glamping site in May 2019 and did all the planning applications for that,” said Mr Macleod. “Later that year when I was at the Glamping Show in Warwickshire I was struck by the fact there was no-one there offering what we could provide.

“There were plenty of manufacturers but nobody to actually help set up the sites and that’s when I decided to leave my full-time job as a consultant electrical engineer to set up Glampitect to provide a five-star service to those with similar dream.

“We will provide the knowledge but the clients will be the decision makers. They may have land to build on, or want us to help them secure some land within a certain budget, and we will advise accordingly on their business model.

“They may want to site a few luxury safari tents, or set up a sustainable yoga retreat, with a unique accommodation offering and a 5-star vegan chef. It’s completely up to them!”

Mr Young, 39, said: “Launching our brand in the UAE is a hugely important milestone for Glampitect. It represents the first step in our goal of having an international presence. This will allow us to promote the UK’s established glamping industry, as well as our own specialist services, to new markets and develop new products in diverse and alluring destinations.”