Treehouses, a Hospitality Trend with a Touch of Childhood Charm
By Mihaela Lica Butler , Reporter for Hospitality Net
From UFO-style apparitions among the trees like Sweden's Treehotel and the Free Spirit Spheres fiberglass globes in the forest canopy of Vancouver Island in Canada, to more traditional structures reminding of the enduring symbol of American childhood, treehouses are a promising trend in hospitality. Thanks to creative entrepreneurs in the tourism sector, now even adults can vacation in a treehouse at a variety of destinations worldwide.
In Asheville, the Serenity Treehouse envisioned by husband and wife team Mike and Caroline Parrish is the only sanctuary in North Carolina supported solely by the trees with a certificate of occupancy. It's the first of a lot of 20 that will make a unique vacation rental complex. Caroline Parish tells me that treehouses will be joined by Hobbit-style cottages built underground, an eco-friendly initiative that aims to attract more visitors to Baird Mountain.
"Our dream has been to share the uniqueness of this place and of this fascinating treehouse experience with people who travel to Asheville," said Parish describing her pet project.
Skamania Lodge in Stevenson, Washington, has opened two treehouses last year in the tall Douglas Firs of the Columbia River Gorge.
"These treehouses will allow our guests to get even closer to the beauty of the Columbia Gorge - to sleep in the forest, amongst the trees, with all the comforts and luxuries of the lodge still at their fingertips," the resort's General Manager Ken Daugherty told me, adding that they had great success in bookings since they opened.
Montana developer Gail Lynne Goodwin is also convinced that treehouses are more than a trend.
"We believe that a great property in a great location will never be part of a passing trend," said Goodwin describing the most recent development by Montana Bear Properties, the world's first ski-in/ski-out treehouses called Snow Bear Chalets at Whitefish Mountain Ski Resort. "We could have built anything on this location, but opted for treehouses as we wanted to create a sense of whimsy for our guests. Our property is a blend of Harry Potter meets Hansel and Gretel, with a storybook flair. Life can seem mundane at times, but we believe that vacation time should be magical," Goodwin added.
Treehouses are now popping all over the world. Some offer basic accommodation, while others come with luxury amenities that will blow your mind: spa-like bathrooms, fully-equipped kitchens, Princes-and-the-pea beds, and so on. Regardless of the comfort they offer, treehouses are gaining popularity with both travelers and the media. Travel Pulse noted that they are a new luxury travel trend in the fall of 2016, and Bloomberg Pursuits called them "the hot, new hotel trend we can't get enough of," about the same time.
Journalist Aliz Koletas told me about her treehouse stay at The Olive Nest in Kalamata:
"Never would I think that I would voluntarily stay in a treehouse and like it! But throw in a beautiful sunset in Greee, locally produced food, and a hospitable owner, and I thoroughly enjoyed myself."
And travel blogger Anthony Bianco who runs The Travel Tart noted that although treehouses have been around for a while, the trend is not "going away any time soon."
"With the rise of glamping, tree houses are more popular than ever. Instagram lifestyle gurus, hygge preachers, and trend followers rave about them and I can see why," said travel blogger Inma Gregorio of A World to Travel. "After staying on a stunning treehouse recently myself, I acknowledge how exciting it is to sleep in one of them a couple of nights. Definitely, they are here to stay," she added.
With so many pros, it's easy to understand that this hospitality trend is not a fad. Treehouses have the stuff of childhood dreams, but they also allow guests a proximity to nature that traditional hotels fail to offer. Besides, they are cheaper and faster to build, and are usually environmentally friendly.