most expensivest

We Caught Up With the Kiwi Behind the $12,000 Tent That 2 Chainz Hotboxed

In new season MOST EXPENSIVEST 2 Chainz tries out a Lotus Belle tent. The company's co-founder lets us in on what the one percent gets up to when they're swaddled in canvas.
November 19, 2018, 3:19am

Live like 2 Chainz! To celebrate the new season of MOST EXPENSIVEST (Mondays, 7.30 PM on VICELAND SKY Channel 13) we've teamed up with Mai FM to give away a two-night stay at Whangarei's Adrenalin Adventure Park in a luxury Lotus Belle tent and cash money prizes of $500. Listen out to the Mai Morning Crew on Mai FM this week and play "How Expensivest" to win.

If New Zealanders know how to do one thing, it’s probably camping. But feeling like you're about to suffocate when the sun pelts down on your nylon sweatbox, or having to constantly waddle around at three feet tall is not everyone’s cup of tea. That’s where glamping comes in: camping for the high-rollers, precious types, or those just bored of doing things basic.

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In next Monday's episode of VICELAND’S MOST EXPENSIVEST, 2 Chainz finds out how the one percent do camping. For a humble $12,000, you too could spend your days in a 65 square metre canvas palace crowned the Lotus Mahal.

Lotus Belle is a multinational company that makes luxury tents like no one else. We spoke to the Kiwi co-founder Jessica Walsh about which A-listers can't get enough of the glamping life and how to make the very most of a night in the deluxe Lotus Mahal.

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VICE: Hey Jessica, so why has glamping become so popular?
Jessica: I think it is part of a movement. People are wanting to escape suburbia and go back to a time where we used to be sort of nomadic, live off the grid and not pay rent, you know. I guess it's a bit of rebellion. The world is moving very fast, people are getting super stressed out and they are looking for something that is going to give them that ‘back to nature’ experience but also with some comfort.

Why choose a glamping tent, when you could just rent a nice hotel room?
Anyone can rent a hotel room. But you can’t see nature from a hotel room like you can from a luxurious tent environment. People are looking for a more authentic and unique experience, they are tired of hotel rooms that are stagnant, boring and uninspiring.

We know that 2 Chainz is a fan, what other celebrities have given your luxury tents a whirl?
We have loads of celebrity clientele: Jason 'Aquaman' Momoa, Katy Perry, Leonardo DiCaprio, the list goes on. There are a lot of people who have experienced it. I am constantly surprised who.

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What kinds of things does your clientele get up to while glamping?
It is just so varied, it is sort of like how long is a piece of string? I say to people, “this is your blank canvas”. People will take it and do whatever they want to do, hotboxing it like 2 Chainz or I’ve had customers who have given birth in my tents. Yoga, meditation, practice jam rooms, a man/woman cave type thing or just having a big old slumber party.

2 Chainz thought the deluxe Lotus Mahal tent would be great for a brothel, have you heard of any other “creative” purposes for your tents?
Yeah, I mean, sweat lodges, wine-tasting rooms, even a birthing room. One lady bought one to put in the Australian bush to look after baby koalas and kangaroos that were rescued from the Australian bushfires. So a lot of disaster relief too. With the California fires right now I am getting inundated with requests. It is a living space that packs down to a duffle bag, so all sorts of stuff.

Sadly, not everyone can justify a $12,000 tent. How can the rest of us experience glamping without breaking the bank?
We start at $1200, which is an inflatable glamping tent that we do. They do cost a lot to produce, but we are always happy to give price breaks to charities and things like that. But if you can't afford to buy it we do rentals too.

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If I booked the Lotus Mahal for one night, what would you recommend I do to make the very most of it?
I would invite people there and see what people can give and exchange. Like a massage is always really nice, people love to get pampered. You could pretend you are Cleopatra and have somebody fanning you and feeding you skinless grapes. I always liked the idea of filling the tent with a billion soft teddies and having a big cuddle puddle. It’s been on my list of things to do for a while.

What is the longest period of time you have heard someone stay in one of your tents for?
I have had people live in them! If you google ‘escape the rent trap’ you’ll see a video about a guy living in one of our tents. Somewhere like California where it hasn't rained, there is no issue with mould so you can have the tents up for a really long time. But for other areas it is better to take them down after a few months. But yeah, we have had people live in them quite successfully.

The typical camping trip in New Zealand is pretty basic, some might even say rough, how did you get into the more luxurious side of things?
My experience started with working on the festival circuit in the UK. A lot of festivals are held in small villages, so where are you going to put people? There aren't any close-by hotels, so they aren't an option. Everybody like Mick Jagger, Kate Moss all of the A-list people when they go to Glastonbury they don't stay in a hotel they stay in luxury tents and teepees.

Also, you’ll be surprised how many people grow up in New Zealand roughing it camping and want to keep doing it, but as they get older they want to have a softer touch. So it is not all about being a high roller, it's more of a community thing. It's about creating a space to hang out in that is nurturing, comfortable and fun.

Remember, you could win two luxury nights in a Lotus Belle tent at Whangarei's Adrenalin Adventure Park or cash money prizes of $500. Listen out to the Mai Morning Crew on Mai FM (6-10am) this week and play "How Expensivest" to win. Thanks to our partners Mai FM 88.6, Adrenalin Adventure Park Whangarei, Lotus Belle, and SKY TV.