When the pandemic hit in spring 2020, Darrell Redus and his wife Kelli left Arizona and moved back home to Missouri.
Both Lake of the Ozarks natives, he was a travel agent and she was a server.
But as they were shuttered inside with the rest of the world, a dream of theirs started to bud.
They had discovered mobile glamping out West and fantasized about starting their own business in the beautiful Ozarks.
In March of this year, that dream came true as they launched Ozark Valley Glamping.
“We give people an opportunity to camp in comfort with minimal effort on their part,” said Kelli.
Here’s how it works: you can book a luxurious tent rental — with bells and whistles —and the Redus’ will set it up in your yard or at a camping site. They will venture about one hour away from Springfield but make exceptions for Lake of the Ozarks because they can coordinate a family visit.
What do people use the service for? Birthday parties. Slumber parties. Date night. Or the family’s first camping trip.
“Let’s say a family wants to get into camping but they don’t want to spend all the money to find out they don’t like it. They can use us. Or if you get off work on Friday and you’re tired, you don’t want to set up a campsite, you can arrive and it’s set up. All you need is your food and clothes,” Darrell said.
What is camping like with Ozark Valley Glamping?
They use Stout Tents, an American-made, heavy-duty 15-foot bell tent. Some can sleep up to eight. The structures are waterproof and can sustain winds up to 50 miles an hour. Made from canvas, they weigh 100 pounds and take nearly two hours to put up.
These luxurious havens are romantic and feel more like a living space, said Darrell. They have a stargazer option that opens on the top so you can lay back on a queen-size memory foam cot and ogle at the stars.
And those memory foam cots are just the beginning of the glamping.
The tents come with A/C or heating units.
There is a battery-powered chandelier in some.
Throw pillows. Rugs. Battery-operated candles. Lanterns. String lights. Home décor.
If you need more pampering, add-ons include a 100-foot projector screen for movie night or a projector inside the tent (you need a power source). You can add outdoor games, a propane camping stove with S’more sticks and more.
“A customer requested a lounge tent movie night. No beds, but chairs, pillows, movie projector in the backyard instead of sleeping in it,” Darrell said.
And every event can be customized. They can accommodate party themes and have some ready such as butterflies, dinosaurs, sports and Paris.
“We have standard packages but can accommodate with enough notice. It’s all about customization,” Darrell said.
They keep a booking calendar on their website and reservations must be made at least 48 hours in advance.
Campsites are ready at 4 p.m. and they return at 10 a.m. to take it down. Redus says they can work with people if they want a later checkout.
The beds range from singles to queens.
The starting range for tent rentals is $175, although there is a smaller indoor camping option for $150. The cost decreases 20% with each additional day and is $25 cheaper Sunday-Thursday.
So far, their biggest demand has been backyard camping slumber parties for teens and tweens.
“Anytime you can make a teenager smile and squeal with joy, you know you’ve done something right,” said Kelli.
Aside from glamping, they recently added a popup picnic option.
Picnic rentals come with table, dishes, rugs, pillows, tent and décor. They don’t have a catering license but can pick up food for the client for an extra charge — such as a platter from 417 Charcuterie.
“We just started doing those,” Darrell said. “We’ve only done a couple. One was a Mother’s Day surprise. She had seen it on Facebook and mentioned it. The husband scored some brownie points and set it up while they were at church and surprised her.”
Right now, they have permission to set up picnics in Nixa, Battlefield and in Ozark parks — think of a romantic spot on the banks of the Finley River. They are currently working with the Springfield Greene County Parks Department for the future.
The seven-by-seven foot tepee rents for $125 and can accommodate four people. It’s a good birthday option or romantic surprise, said Darrell.
Their ultimate dream is to have a resort set up with glamping units and mobile glamping at the same time.
Since this is their first business, they are taking it one day at a time and soaking up customer feedback.