Vacationers flock to the treehouses

Where there are trees, there is the urge to climb them.

And once in the branches, there is the urge to stay there as long as possible, admire the scenery from a bird’s eye view and relax as the tree sway gently in the breeze. Treehouses that allow adults to sleep near the stars seem to be having a moment, as Americans’ desire for the great outdoors coincides with an increase in treehouse accommodations driven by vacation property owners to the search for income.

Travelers seeking 360-degree social distancing can consider treehouse rentals across the country in a variety of configurations, such as a rustic room with minimal bathing facilities near Shenandoah National Park. Virginia ($ 200 a night) and an upscale suite at the Primland Resort in the state’s Blue Ridge Mountains ($ 1,000 a night).

Barbara Schroeder, 60, of Salisbury, Md., Cherishes this memory of staying in a treehouse in April: spending a quiet morning on an elevated patio 15 feet above the forest floor, with the steam coffee curling up through a silent green awning and deer wandering through the woods. Schroeder, who likes to include quirky rentals in her distant family’s reunion itineraries, has a date with two of her sisters and a niece in one of the three treehouses built by Linda and Dave Klug in their gang. forest in the Hocking Hills area of ​​southeastern Ohio.

Schroeder said that in the five days they were there, his group never got tired of walking from their car’s patio parking spot to the treehouse via a suspension bridge. “We felt like we were stepping out of the world into our own place,” Schroeder said.

Ads claiming to be tree houses grow like kudzu. Out of its 100,000 current listings bundled from many national vacation rental services, VacationRenter.com has 4,780 properties that include the terms “treehouse” or “treehouse”. Airbnb lists treehouses as the ‘most desired’ rental type in its May 2021 Trend Report. At Glamping Hub, a booking platform that lists over 24,000 outdoor rentals worldwide since its start. base in Spain, treehouse requests for 2020 have more than doubled compared to 2019 and are growing even faster this year.

Glamping Hub’s criteria for a ‘tree house’ state that the accommodation must be ‘built in / among tree branches and is generally accessible by a ladder, bridge or staircase,’ the company said in a statement. sent by email.

It is not a semantic distinction. Rental platforms rely on owners to accurately describe their properties, but treehouses have such a strong appeal that some owners use the term “treehouse” to draw attention to the treehouses in the far upper reaches. ground. The bait and the switch confuses the number of real treehouses and irritates travelers and legitimate treehouse owners.

“I saw several ads that weren’t treehouses,” Schroeder said. They were just in a grove of trees.

A tree side view of the Golden Eagle Treehouse at Primland Resort. Treehouses also rest on metal poles or pipes.

(Primland, Auberge Resorts Collection)

Cabins masquerading as tree houses annoy Victoria Cantwell, who built a rustic rental complex in 2017 that includes an actual treehouse on her farm in Argyle, NY Firefly-lit evenings make it all over the place. “magical” experience, she said, but she is also losing patience with competitors trying to follow the trend.

“A stilt house is not a treehouse,” Cantwell said. “Mine is anchored in two living trees, 15 feet in the air. They are difficult to build.

Designing and building a real adult treehouse that is suitable for overnight stays and adheres to building codes is no small feat, agreed Daniel Ash, head of architecture at Nelson Treehouse. , in Fall City, Washington. The company is widely recognized for starting the trend. through his reality TV show “Treehouse Masters”, broadcast from 2013 to 2018 on the Animal Planet channel.

The idiosyncratic requirements for a single treehouse are quickly eliminating wannabes, Ash said.

“It’s a lot easier to come up with an idea than it is to make it happen,” Ash said. “Lots of stars have to line up to make this a reality. You have to have the right trees for it. The trees have to be able to support the loads. And you have to be legally allowed to do that. Every jurisdiction is different in terms of treatment. of these structures. “

Each treehouse should be designed around a specific tree or trees (most treehouses also rely on poles or pipes for structural support; the pipes can also carry electricity and plumbing ). The perfect setting, said the owners of Ash and Treehouses, is a gentle slope that allows for parking connected to the house by a suspension bridge. This makes it easy for visitors to take their luggage and supplies home.

There are other issues, Ash added, such as how guests will prepare meals, which will clean homes and utilities. “It’s a big deal,” he said, “getting the water and the septic tank up there”.

Building a sufficiently feathered nest doesn’t come cheap. A typical “Treehouse Masters” project costs around $ 350,000, Ash said. He estimates that today, around 30% of the company’s projects are for customers who build with the intention of leasing, up from around 5% five years ago.

The sloping landscape adjacent to the Golden Eagle Treehouse is ideal for a suspension bridge, used to carry supplies.

The sloping landscape adjacent to the Golden Eagle Treehouse at Primland Resort is ideal for a suspension bridge, used to carry luggage and supplies.

(Primland, Auberge Resorts Collection)

Renting wasn’t on Susan Leopold’s mind a few years ago, however, when she realized she had a good setup for an adult treehouse in her rural Linden countryside. , Virginia, located near Shenandoah National Park. Building such a house would be the literal expression of Leopold’s lifelong commitment to plant conservation. “We have to live in harmony with the trees,” she said.

She hired an architect who specializes in adult tree houses, and he found the perfect spot: a sturdy tree that could support the metal gear that helps support the house, and a slope that allows for fairly easy access. on one end and a spectacular view on the other.

He was also willing to create a bohemian aesthetic for the home using recycled and found materials. The balcony railing, for example, is woven from small branches of trees and vines. The low-budget project took a few months, Leopold said.

It was only after the treehouse was built that it realized its commercial potential. Now, Leopold’s Trillium Treehouse is booked well in advance at several rental sites, at $ 200 a night, though bathroom facilities are rudimentary.

“It’s more like super chic camping,” said Leopold, referring to the outdoor shower and composting toilet, which is not connected to the plumbing, at the base of the tree.

She and Cantwell both said that between the guests they would escape to their own treehouses for a bit of forest swimming. But being high among the leaves isn’t for everyone. Schroeder said that while her sisters would love a treehouse stay, she is already looking for other types of novelty rentals. Plus, she added, “I don’t like heights.”

Cleaver is a freelance writer. This article appeared in the Washington Post.


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