Fire ban, bugs, & sluggish AC make for glitchy glamping at Getaway House’s Houston outpost

After two restful stays at new Getaway House locations in New York, I was curious if a similar experience could be found in the summer in the South.

A road through Getaway House Brazos Valley near Houston.

I’ll go ahead and get the bad news out of the way–

  • Our assigned cabin had bed bugs. We didn’t see one until the first morning, and the bites all over my spouse didn’t become visible and itchy until a few days after we left.
  • There was a fire ban, which we didn’t realize until after the cancellation deadline had passed. For us, making fires is half the fun of camping.
  • The AC barely worked. The cool air was blowing, but the cabin was not able to cool down enough, so falling asleep was difficult even before the fear of bugs hit us the second night.
  • There was mold in the corners of the shower, which I wasn’t surprised about considering the shower was inside a small wooden box in the woods in the hot & humid southern summer.

Here’s some good news– the forest outside of our cabin’s window was beautiful, with towering pines that would sway when the breeze picked up.

Wait, did you say bed bugs though?

So, yes. I wish we had left after finding the one bed bug on top of the comforter that first morning, but we didn’t have prior experience with bed bugs and didn’t have internet service in order to research and confirm what it was. We didn’t see any others in the sheets or pillows, so we were hoping we had some kind of lone wolf that fell off a prior guest’s suitcase or something.

We informed the company of our finding after checking out, and to their credit they took it seriously and refunded us for our stay after having a pest control person confirm the presence of bed bugs in the cabin.

We figured it wasn’t a bad infestation since we didn’t see any other bed bugs over the 36 hours at the cabin, but within a few days a couple dozen bites started appearing all over my spouse’s arms and neck. Neither of us had ever been bitten by bed bugs before, so it was a surprise to realize how terribly itchy they are once the bites start to show up.

I didn’t have any bites on me that I could find, so our hypothesis was that they were hiding in the crack by the window, which was the side of the bed my spouse slept on. Or, maybe there was only one or two of them that caused all of the bites on her. After finding the one bug that first morning, I lifted up the corner of the extremely heavy mattress to look for any signs of life, but I didn’t find anything.

Although, my pillow wasn’t exactly the freshest looking:

We researched on the way home and took the recommended precautions for returning home from a lodging that has bed bugs.

I won’t post a pic of the bed bug that we found because, tbh, it can be nauseating for anyone who has ever had an encounter with these things.

Assuming you haven’t already noped out, here’s the rest of the story

We got to the campground after dark on a Friday night in July, and took the gravel road about a mile from the entrance to where our assigned cabin was.

It was sweltering inside, so our first step before unloading our car was figuring out how to get the AC started.

The thermostat was broken, but it had a small card on it telling us to open up the cabinet below to access the AC unit controls.

It seemed a bit tacky that the smores kit that was free at our previous getaways was now $5:

There was also a small fan that was dusty but helpful:

There was no basket of food for purchase this time, but the kitchen was otherwise the same as our previous getaways:

The bathroom was clean for the most part, but was showing sure signs of deterioration:

These shower corners seem to be struggling in the battle with mold.
This vent didn’t have AC coming out of it so not sure what it does.

Here’s the outside of the camp site:

The campground did have a hiking trail, but it was too hot for us to feel like trying it:

There is a pipeline clearing that runs through the campground:

The folks living across from the entrance to the campground seem to be responding to the many visitors to their neighborhood, as they had self-service firewood for sale, in addition to signs advertising kittens and a variety of old cars for sale.

How is the location?

The campground is in Novasota, TX, which is about an hour northwest of Houston and 45 minutes southeast of College Station.

College Station has George H. W. Bush’s presidential library, which has an extensive museum ($9 per person) covering the life of the late president.

There is also a place called Wildflyer Mead Company about 15 minutes away that serves tasty mead, and it’s across a field from a honey farm with a shop selling all kinds of honey products and merch.

About 20 minutes from the campground is the small town of Navasota, which has restaurants and a Wal-Mart.

Would you return?

We’re not fancy travelers, but this visit ended up being more stressful than it was enjoyable.

I grew up in the dank South, and I was skeptical that these cabins could hold up to the relentless heat and humidity of southern summers.

So it wasn’t surprising that the cabin seemed to be wilting. But the bed bug encounter was what put the final nail in our enjoyment coffin.

I don’t exactly blame Getaway for the bed bugs, because any lodging can pick them up from any guest.

However, the feeling we got was that the overall maintenance of the cabins was lackluster, and the bed bugs, ants, mold and sluggish AC seemed to be inevitable symptoms of that.

I scrolled through hundreds of Google reviews on Getaway locations throughout the US, and I found only two reviews that mentioned encounters with bed bugs, although there were quite a few mentioning ants, stink bugs, and other pests.

It’s possible we just got really unlucky.

The outposts that we stayed at in New York were almost perfect, although it’s difficult to compare them since those were practically brand new when we visited.

My gut feeling is that there are two main issues, at least at this outpost:

  • There are some kinks in the cabin design & materials, resulting in mold and bug infiltration, and HVAC failures.
  • The housekeeping crew is not paid enough or staffed well enough to clean and maintain these cabins as well as needed. Maybe the amount Getaway would need to charge per night in order to cover a pay/staffing improvement is higher than the supply & demand curve would allow.

Getaway is a relatively new company with a cool concept, so I’m hoping they iron out some of the wrinkles.

The point of this post was not to criticize the company or the employees of this outpost, but rather to be honest with readers about the experience we had.

I saw an excerpt recently from Jamaica Kincaid that brought this visit to mind:

“The space between the idea of something and its reality is always wide and deep and dark. The longer they are kept apart– idea of thing, reality of thing– the wider the width, the deeper the depth, the thicker and darker the darkness.”

If you’ve had an experience with Getaway that you’re willing to share, it’d be appreciated.

If you’d like to check out your local outpost for yourself, Getaway is running a promo through August 14 where you can get 25% off a stay of 2+ nights:

One thought on “Fire ban, bugs, & sluggish AC make for glitchy glamping at Getaway House’s Houston outpost

  1. Pingback: Tiny house review: a look inside both Getaway House glamping locations in NY’s Catskills | easyjourneys

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