December 1, 2023
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Stephen Pellicano trades graphics for glamping

1996 graduate operates 'glampground' resort in the Catskills

Stephen Pellicano and his family at their Catskills glamping resort. Stephen Pellicano and his family at their Catskills glamping resort.
Stephen Pellicano and his family at their Catskills glamping resort. Image Credit: Contributed photo.

A short trip to England that stretched into a 12-year European stay. Meeting the love of your life overseas. Launching a business from a family property. If just one of those happened to you, it would be great dinner-party conversation.

Stephen Pellicano ’96 has experienced them all. He and his wife, Elena, own and operate a glamping (aka camping with amenities) resort in the Catskills between New York City and Binghamton. The journey to his current home started in the Big Apple, where he was a graphic designer after graduating with his art degree. In 1999, his career took a hard stop — or a very long lunch.

“During my lunch hour, I attended a British Airways contest in Columbus Circle and won a trip to London based on my homemade James Bond costume, complete with 007 logo and silver cardboard painted jet backpack, made with scraps from my graphic studio,” Pellicano says.

A two-week backpacking trip led to nine years in the Czech Republic and three in Turkey, working as an English teacher and manager of a British travel agency. Pellicano met his wife in Ukraine, brought her to the United States, and they settled in his parents’ abandoned Catskill, N.Y., home.

“Because I was out of the [American] workforce for so long, it was impossible to jump back in as a graphic designer in the city because of our remote location and my out-of-date software skills. My wife and I decided to find a way to use the property to make a living. We started with an organic farm and, when that failed, we refurbished our greenhouse into our first glamping cabin.”

The glampground is the Pellicanos’ full-time endeavor and they’ve expanded to four spaces, each secluded with mountaintop views. The accommodations are all hand-built: a barn, two tiny homes and an A-frame.

“We launched during COVID, and it’s why we got such a strong start,” he says. “With hotels and Airbnb sites shut down, people didn’t have much choice. Even before COVID, this travel niche was gaining momentum and vacationing in nature never goes out of style.”

They donate a portion of the glampground’s revenue to Ukrainian relief funds.

“If we hadn’t met in 2012, Elena would most likely still be living there and would’ve been an innocent victim, too,” Pellicano says. “It’s only natural for us to continually offer help in any small way we can.”

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