Go Out on a Limb
Who said tree houses were just for kids? These days you can find a host of tree house hotels around the world that combine Swiss Family Robinson-style charm with a touch of elegance. Situated in wooded areas high above the ground, these unique structures offer stunning views, comfortable amenities and the chance to get up close and personal with wildlife. From the English countryside to the Costa Rican rain forest, here are seven of the coolest we've found that are sure to take your vacation to new heights.
Tree House Point, Issaquah, Wash.
Located 30 minutes from Seattle in a picturesque forest beside the Raging River, this cozy bed-and-breakfast offers six tree house lodges featuring hand-hewn beds, original art and vintage furnishings. For fun, guests can take a stroll through the grounds, play chess, sip afternoon tea at the Main Lodge or book a yoga class or massage. While all tree houses share a common bathroom, some tree houses have a private toilet. Prices range from $195 to $255 per night (includes continental breakfast).
Tree Houses Hotel, Santa Clara, Costa Rica
Catch a glimpse of monkeys, toucans, armadillos, hummingbirds and parrots at this bed-and-breakfast surrounded by a 70-acre wildlife refuge in the Costa Rican rain forest. The place is just a 25-minute drive from the high tourist area, and guests can stay in one of six tree houses featuring air conditioning, warm-water showers, refrigerators and safes. When venturing outside, you can enjoy nature hikes or take a dip in the hotel's pools. Rooms range from $85 to $140 per night, though rates rise during the holiday season.
The Grand Treehouse Resort, Eureka Springs, Ark.
The six tree houses on this resort nestled in the middle of a wildlife forest aren't too shabby. While each tree house features a unique design, amenities for all include a 32-inch flat-screen TV, Jacuzzi tub for two, DVD player, luxury bed linens, stained-glass windows and 100% Egyptian cotton towels. Prices range from $149 to $165 per night (two-night minimum stay on weekends).
Ian Anderson's Caves Branch Jungle Lodge, Belmopan, Belize
Guests of the luxury tree houses on this resort located 12 miles south of Belmopan, the capital city of Belize, can enjoy panoramic views of the jungle and Caves Branch River below. Featuring touches such as roof-top decks and hot tubs, the tree houses range from $386 to $591 per night. When not relaxing indoors, head outside to enjoy the resort's two swimming pools with waterfalls or go swimming in the Caves Branch River. Thrill seekers can also book full- and half-day adventure trips such as snorkeling and diving, zip-lining, horseback riding and cave expeditions.
Carolina Heritage Outfitters, Canadys, S.C.
If you're a true adventurer, consider staying in a tree house on the largest private wildlife refuge on the Edisto River in South Carolina, which you can rent through Carolina Heritage Outfitters. Accessible by canoe, each tree house is tucked away in the woods out of sight of any other along the river's edge and solidly constructed of completely natural, mostly locally harvested materials. Be warned, though, that you'll have to rough it on this trip: The tree houses aren't equipped with electricity or running water, so you'll have to rely on tiki torches and oil candles for light and outhouses to relieve yourself. Also, the tree houses are a halfway stop on a 23-mile canoe trip on an undeveloped river that you'll have to guide yourself, so it's best to have some paddling experience under your belt. The tree house package costs $150 per adult and $125 per child age 7 or older for the first night (call for pricing for additional nights).
Out 'n' About Treehouse Treesort in Cave Junction, Ore.
This lively "treesort" located on 36 private acres of pasture and woods beside the Siskiyou National Forest boasts several creative tree house lodges. The "Treezebo," for instance, is a gazebo in the trees featuring a queen-size bed, bunk and single with a toilet, sink, mini fridge, table and chairs ($250 per night for up to four people). Or stay in the "Treeloon," a tree house that looks like a saloon from the Old West complete with a swinging door ($140 per night for two people). Out 'n' About also offers guided horseback rides, zip lines and a giant Tarzan swing.
The Treehouse at Harptree Court, East Harptree, England
The luxurious Harptree Treehouse in the quaint village of East Harptree, England, is the perfect retreat for couples in search of romance and quiet respite. This hideaway among the trees features a large verandah, copper bathtub, spacious kitchen and living area, king-size bed, wood-burning stove and modern conveniences like Wi-Fi and a DAB clock radio with iPod dock.
Prices start at £250 per night (about $386) with a two-night minimum.
--Written by Kristin Colella for MainStreet