If you’re tired of cookie-cutter hotel rooms, maybe it’s time to climb into a tree. A new generation of tree houses are sprouting across the world, and designer Roderick Romero says he knows why. “They’re magical. I’ve never seen someone climb into a tree house and not smile,” says the builder, whose work has been featured on the Animal Planet show Tree house Masters. Romero, who has worked for celebrities like Sting, Julianne Moore and Val Kilmer, shares some favorite tree houses with Larry Bleiberg for USA TODAY.
Before you can stay in one of the wilderness treehouses owned by Carolina Heritage Outfitters, you first have to canoe down the Edisto River. The paddle-in homes offer a propane grill, cooking gear and a cozy sleeping perch. “It’s a really good place to get back to nature,” Romero says. The lofts have gas stoves and are lit by lanterns.
Disneyland, Anaheim, Calif.
Romero developed his love for arboreal housing as a boy during family visits to the theme park’s sprawling walk-through display, which then was called the Swiss Family Treehouse. “It had a big impact on my love for treehouses. It was my favorite place to go. It’s not truly a tree, but they came very close to creating one.” Disney World’s similar treehouse in Florida retains the original Swiss Family name. In addition, the park rents out treehouse villas to overnight guests.
This hideaway was created by one of Romero’s mentors, Pete Nelson, who is a leader in the treehouse building world. Romero particularly likes the house called Trillium. “It’s gorgeous because it’s 20-feet tall, but it’s split level. It’s a more contemporary architecture. People come from all over the world to stay there.” If you can’t spend the night, the site also offers tours.
Out ‘n’ About Treesort
Romero is wild about this arboreal B&B. Not only is the owner an innovator who developed treehouse hardware that doesn’t damage trees, the complex is so much fun. “I don’t want to pick my favorite, but it’s my favorite,” he says. “It’s a real resort in the trees. It’s set up really well with huge zip lines through Douglas fir trees and cedars.”
Post Ranch Inn
Big Sur, Calif.
Guests at these treehouse won’t be roughing it. Amenities in these elevated standalone buildings include nightly turndown service, fireplaces, decks and digital music systems. “It’s such a beautiful location … and the whole thing is upscale,” Romero says.
Romero was astonished when he first saw the buildings at this hotel 40 miles south of the Arctic Circle in northern Sweden. “It blew my mind. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing,” he says. The complex of freestanding, miniature hotel rooms draws heavily on spare Scandinavian design. “Architecturally this is one of the coolest ideas for a treehouse.
While most treehouses are found in the woods, this coffee shop and inn turns the idea on its head with a location in downtown Tokyo. The building itself stands on stilts with a tree growing through the center of it. The café was the first treehouse designed by Kobayashi Takashi, who has since created more than 120 homes “He’s one of my heroes,” Romero says. “In the treehouse community, he’s who we talk about the most.”
Finca Bella Vista
Near Piedras Blancas National Park, Costa Rica
Romero built the prototype house for this resort, which now has several dozen treehouses of various designs. “It’s an amazing place – in a rainforest, overlooking a waterfall. It’s now a legitimate treehouse community with organic gardens and solar panels,” he says.
One of the world’s most stylish treehouses perches in an ebony tree alongside the Zambezi River near Victoria Falls. The large pine deck holds a four-poster canopied bed, Turkish carpets, Asian chests and a claw-footed bathtub. Guests can go on safari, or simply stay in their perch and watch for hippos playing in the river below.
Treehouses are hardly a new creation. This ancient hollowed oak tree, a shrine to the Virgin Mary, contains two chapels that date to the 17th century. It’s surrounded by a staircase and uses shingles to cover missing bark. “It’s just absolutely out of this world. No one has done anything close to this,” Romero says.