Opening plans for Camp Aramoni, the 96-acre upscale campsite and event space touted as Illinois’s first “luxury campground,” was to open this month, but the pandemic his caused significant delays. Camp Aramoni will accept reservations for September and October, but the so-called “grand opening season” with full amenities won’t begin until 2022, according to a rep.
Supply chain issues have pushed the debut into a staggered two-part launch. The expansive venue in Central Illinois features food from Chicago chef Cleetus Friedman (Theatre on the Lake, City Provisions).
Perched along the Vermilion River in Tonica, a small town about 90 minutes south of Chicago, Camp Aramoni aims to draw fancy campers, wedding parties, honeymooners, and other comfort-conscious patrons. Safari-style tents will be equipped with hardwood floors, en-suite bathrooms, king-size beds, and air conditioning. As city diners worried about the spread of COVID-10, the wide-open rural space was positioned as an antidote to those anxieties.
Friedman, eager to get going, recently introduced pizza and burger nights for locals with live music on Wednesdays. He’ll oversee food operations at the Barn, a lodge-inspired dining space, and the Burlington, a 1961 Airstream Overlander RV transformed into a coffee bar and cocktail spot. His fall menus are available online with food options like a wood-fired shakshuka breakfast pizza, shrimp and sausage arrabbiata, and grilled asparagus salad, plus kid-friendly items, cocktails, wine, and beer.
So-called glamping venues like Camp Aramoni and the Fields of Michigan (nearly three hours west of Detroit) have presented an appealing open-air alternative to hotels during the pandemic. Friedman in March told Eater Chicago that the project seems well suited to such an uncertain moment in the industry, and he hopes to use the platform to find a new look and feel for hospitality.
Camp Aramoni, 809 N. 2199 Road, Tonica, Reservations are open for September and October 2021.