Forget Swiss Family Robinson: Treehouse hotels are now fabulously luxe

By Nikki Ekstein

An aerial view of treehouse lodging at Secret Bay Resort in Dominica. Photo / Secret Bay
An aerial view of treehouse lodging at Secret Bay Resort in Dominica. Photo / Secret Bay

There's nothing like a treehouse to reawaken your childlike sense of wonder.

Make it luxe and stick it in the middle of a tropical clime, though, and you've got a vacation fantasy fit for well-heeled adults. Here are five treehouse hotels - all new or recently expanded - where you can bring it all to life.

Secret Bay, Dominica

When it opened in 2012, Secret Bay put the tiny, unadulterated island of Dominica on the map with its four sumptuous villas, each one hand-built on a bluff that juts into pristine waters. Little by little, the property - a pioneer in sustainable design and marine conservation - has expanded, keeping its footprint light and its wow factor high.

One of two treehouse suites at Secret Bay, in Dominica. Photo / Secret Bay
One of two treehouse suites at Secret Bay, in Dominica. Photo / Secret Bay

Its latest addition came online earlier this month: two sprawling duplex villas perched atop the dense forest canopy. Each has a "hammock sofa" on the deck and a fully equipped kitchen (the fridge will be stocked to your specification; a chef can come whip up lobster thermidor on demand). What's that outside your bedroom door? A private pool. And if all that isn't enough, ask for a one-man jazz concert on your patio. The team will actually make it happen.

Playa Viva, Juluchuca, Mexico

Last fall, this little eco-retreat on the Pacific coast of Mexico, 35 minutes south of Zijuatanejo, opened up a dramatic, cylindrical treehouse as a sort of experiment. The whole resort strives to have a "less than zero" footprint, so making it work required creative architecture, as to not disturb the towering palm trees. Yet work it did — it's been selling out months in advance — so owner David Leventhal and the California-based crew at ArtisTree Homes are now building another half-dozen.

Playa Viva's cylandrical treehouses include built-in hammocks in the floorboards. Photo / Playa Viva
Playa Viva's cylandrical treehouses include built-in hammocks in the floorboards. Photo / Playa Viva

Until then, book the single treehouse (from $610 per night) for totally unobstructed ocean views, an unrivaled feeling of seclusion, and perhaps the house's zaniest feature: a hammock that's sunk into a cut-out patch of floorboards.

Acre, San Jose del Cabo, Mexico

A year ago, Acre was nothing but a buzzy restaurant on a 25-acre farm, tucked deep into the dusty hills outside Cabo San Lucas. Its next-door neighbour, Flora Farms, was the area's culinary pioneer — a predecessor to Acre that brought sustainable farming and Brooklyn — style locavore cuisine (and a penchant for organic microbrewing) to the lusher backside of this desert locale.

A treehouse under construction at Acre. Photo / Acre, Facebook
A treehouse under construction at Acre. Photo / Acre, Facebook

Now, Acre is the one pushing the envelope with the opening of its treehouse hotel, made up of 12 "stick boxes" on stilts. They're compact but space-efficient, with queen beds and outdoor showers that are shaded by palm trees.

Papaya Playa, Tulum, Mexico

One of Tulum's most beloved resorts-a high-design haven with 85 thatched roof casitas is spawning its most-covetable rooms yet.

The hotel's treehouse is opening for the holiday season and will be the first of several. Photo / Papaya Playa Project, Instagram
The hotel's treehouse is opening for the holiday season and will be the first of several. Photo / Papaya Playa Project, Instagram

The hotel's treehouse is opening for the holiday season and will be the first of several. It's built out of local Zapote and recycled wood in a spherical shape that's meant to resemble ancient Mayan structures. The bi-level treehouse has Caribbean Sea views and a dedicated meditation room (as if the whole thing weren't fit for introspection), along with easy access to the hotel's kiteboarding school and spa.

Hoshinoya, Bali, Indonesia

As if Bali needed more visual splendour, the soon-to-open Hoshinoya resort is going over the top, literally, with a series of seven postmodern, open-air "cafés in the sky" that hover over Ubud's wild vegetation. Below these serene tea rooms lie a sacred network of canals and rice paddies. Rooms here are on ground level, facing a long lap pool.

At Hoshinoya in Bali, treehouse tearooms are nestled among the jungle. Photo / Hoshinoya Bali
At Hoshinoya in Bali, treehouse tearooms are nestled among the jungle. Photo / Hoshinoya Bali

It's the first Indonesian outpost for the 102-year-old company Hoshino Resorts, which has made its name creating stunning ryokans throughout Japan. In other words: Expect gracious service based on principles of "omotenashi," or intuitive hospitality.

- Washington Post

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