A green getaway amidst a sea of trees and stars

Admit it: you’ve always dreamed of living in a tree house. 

You gazed with longing upon the rainforest tree house selected by the Australian Institute of Architects (AIA) as its 2012 House of the Year, and when you read about Finca Bellavista, Costa Rica’s sustainable tree house community, you immediately grabbed your spouse in an effort to convince him/her that life in the forest canopy was your logical next move. 

If your spouse remains unconvinced — and you’ve no plans yet to build your own sustainable forest getaway — you might just want to consider a free-spirited getaway among the Free Spirit Tree Spheres in the treetops of Vancouver.

Located on five forested acres near Qualicum Bay on Vancouver Island in British Columbia, this offbeat vacation getaway is composed of three unique spheres that hang, literally, among the trees. 

Billed as an ideal setting in which to commune with the forest and Mother Nature herself, the resort features a large central pond that attracts birds and other wildlife.

A shared composting toilet outhouse is located at the base of the spheres, while “more traditional” facilities can be found on the other side of the pond, which include washrooms, showers, a sauna and a covered deck with barbeque and picnicking accommodations.

Each of the resort’s three tree spheres comes complete with its own name. ‘Eve’ is made from locally sourced cedar and was the resort’s first hand-crafted sphere. 

Around nice feet in diameter (2.7 meters), the sphere features two four-inch diameter windows, a duvet-covered single bed, a settee, cupboards and counter space.

The sphere nestles in the branches of a little grove of cedar and maple trees — like the other two Free Spirit Tree Spheres, the structure was constructed with the minimum amount of impact on the surrounding forest environment.

That’s no accident. Free Spirit Tree Spheres, the brainchild of Tom Chudleigh — the  inventor, manufacturer and distributor of said tree spheres, which are commercially available — were designed to inhabit the natural environment in the least invasive way possible. 

“Even when city folk move out into the country, the first thing they do is clear at least a 30 meter square piece of land to build their house on,” Chudleigh says, on the resort’s website. “Then they build a concrete foundation and up from there. The destruction mounts quickly.”

Chudleigh goes on to note that he wanted something different — to enable people to move into and inhabit the forest without taking it down first. To live in and among the trees and to use them for a foundation.

“In this way,” he says, “the foundation depends on maintaining a healthy ecosystem. It also gives me back a magic environment right outside my front door. Like a bird in a nest.”

Guests report that staying in one of these spheres is a uniquely luxurious outdoor experience, with the novelty of life in a sphere accentuated by the fact that the spheres actually sway.  According to Free Spirt Tree Spheres, the motion in a sphere is a slow, gentle rocking when the wind blows. 

The rope tethers are almost vertical, which lets the treetops move considerably while hardly moving the sphere at all. (Watch out if your spouse happens to pop up in the middle of the night for a drink of water, though: when another body inside a sphere shifts his/her weight, the motion is abrupt).

One guest notes, though “…At night it felt like as though we were adrift in a sea of trees and stars.” Which, altogether, doesn’t sound bad.

Should you tire of communing with Mother Nature, though, rest assured that each rental sphere is wired for power and comes with built in speakers. This presents an opportunity not only to provide the soundtrack of your free-spirited forest vacay, but an opportunity to experience sound sound at its finest.

Rates run $135-$225 Canadian dollars per night, but pets and kids have to stay home. (Sorry, kids!) More information is available online.

Susan DeFreitas, EarthTechling