Cedar Creek Treehouse
From the Swiss Family Robinson’s massive forest hideaway to the Berenstein Bears “No Boys Allowed” backyard version, tree houses have an appeal all their own: they’re private, they get the best breezes, and you’ll see birds, bugs, plants, and animals that you’d never come across on the ground. The owners of these tree house hotels also have an unsurprising passion for the environment, using reclaimed wood, low-energy devices, and natural soaps on their properties. (Pics)
At this Washington state treehouse (pictured above), for example, you’ll live off the grid–the utilities run on solar energy and there’s no shower. But you’ll also have skylights over your bed, a river right outside, and access to the glass observation area for everything from birdwatching to stargazing–and isn’t that better than your childhood playhouse?
Ariau Amazon Towers
If you’re looking for sheer size, then book a stay at Ariau Amazon Towers in the Brazilian rainforest. The hotel, inspired by Jacques Cousteau’s passion for the rainforest, includes five miles of wooden bridges that connect the rooms and restaurants at treetop level. Explore the jungle and the Amazon river with eco-tourism adventures and refuel after a long day at open-air restaurants stocked with local food.
Tree House Lodge
The Tree House Lodge, built on the same land as the Gandoca-Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge in Punta Uva, Costa Rica, offers four types of rooms; the Tree House, which sleeps as many as six people, is the only one with a shower built around a 100-year-old Sangrillo tree. It’s also built from 100 percent sustainable wood (sourced from trees felled by Mother Nature, rather than cut for lumber), while recycled materials form the roof and all the houses run on solar heat and electricity.
South Africa’s Teniqua Treetops may not be as massive as the Ariau Amazon Towers, but the tented accommodations have their own unique charms: built in indigenous forests, they offer lush breezes, sweeping views, and plenty of privacy. The hotel also bills itself as “low density and low impact,” catching rainwater for drinking, using eco-friendly detergent for towels and linens, and putting dry toilets in the tents.
The six treehouses that make up Australia’s Canopy resort are furnished with pieces crafted from local rainforest wood and include massive windows for daylighting–and for taking in the stunning landscapes. The entire property runs on renewable energy, and the resort, which shares its location with a wildlife sanctuary, promises all-natural sheets and towels and biodegradable detergent, and offers links to companies that offset the carbon cost of your trip.
Fiji is best known for its beaches, but don’t underestimate its rainforest resorts: The treehouses at the Maravu Plantation come with king-sized beds, local flowers, and attached sun porches. Elsewhere on the resort, the staff composts and recycles, installs low-energy lights, and sources local goods whenever possible.
Inkaterra Conopy Tree House
The Inkaterra properties are some of the most unusual in the world and the Inkaterra Canopy Tree House at the Reserva Amazonica is no exception: Connected to the Canopy Walkway 90 feet above the ground, the simple furnishings highlight the variety of flora and fauna that you can only see from treetop height. Have dinner on the deck as the sun goes down, and then spend the night under the palm-thatched roof.
Chole Mjini Lodge
For the utmost in privacy, try the Chole Mjini Lodge, located on the island of Chole, off the island of Mafia, in the Indian Ocean off Tanzania. But be prepared: there’s no electricity, and only one of the rooms has a flush toilet (the rest are “drop toilets”). If you can look past that, then the scenery–gorgeous mangrove trees–and food (fresh, local vegetables and fish) should give you plenty to write home about.
The owners of Hapuku Lodge in New Zealand know that people come from all over the world for the environment–massive mountains, clear water, a neighboring grove of 1000 olive trees–and they make keeping the land healthy a priority. The property plants one native tree for every night a room is booked, gets three-quarters of its food from local farmers, grows an organic garden on-site, builds accommodations from recycled and reclaimed wood, and composts kitchen trash–all of which is part of their effort to be a zero-waste property.
Hamanasi Dive and Adventure Resort
Belize has some of the world’s best snorkeling and most beautiful rainforests–and from the Hamanasi Dive and Adventure Resort, you can reach it all. The treehouses are built with large windows to let in the light and capture the tropical breezes (while cutting back on air conditioning)–and since none of the rooms have televisions or phones, you’ll use less energy. The resort also puts an emphasis on eco-tourism and trips that explore the surroundings: try reef snorkeling or the Mayflower Jungle and Waterfall Hike.