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.
Its latest addition came online earlier in November: two sprawling duplex villas (from $1,040 a night) 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.
Until then, book the single treehouse (from $445 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 neighbor, 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.
Now, Acre is the one pushing the envelope with the opening of its treehouse hotel, made up of 12 "stick boxes" on stilts (from $200 per night). 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 (from $178, book by email) – is spawning its most-covetable rooms yet.
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 splendor, the soon-to-open Hoshinoya resort (rooms from $700) 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.
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.