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Treehouses are a unique and exotic accommodation that competes with camping, and are proven to be a trend for getting outdoors.

INDUSTRY EDGE

TECH & TRENDS

Treehouses Mature Through The Generations 

 From Childhood Secret Playhouses to Actual Living Quarters, The Evolution of Treehouses Comes In Form Of Rentals At Campsites Looking For A Competitive Edge 

Treehouses have become more than a child's hideout, like this large, stunning shelter in Florida [Photo Credit: Dan Wright/Treetop Builders]

Many people think back with fond memories of the old tree fort where many childhood years were spent in a world of fantasy. Modern builders and arborists are working to bring fantasy to reality with full size tree houses meant for living rather than play.

“I built my first treehouse in 2003. I guess I could go back further, my dad built one when I was a kid, but that wasn’t in a tree. Through high school and college, I worked at a number of youth camps and we sent kids on ziplines, up climbing walls, and on backpacking and canoeing trips. I ended up working as a carpenter after college, and I put the outdoors together with carpentry and decided to give it a go.

The market is changing for us, I would say that the first 5-8 years I was building 95 percent backyard playhouses. They would be 100-150 square feet, not enough to live in. Then the market shifted, and we got more and more requests for ones that you could stay in and rent out. We got more requests for electricity and plumbing. Seems like the last two years, most of our jobs are still backyard tree houses, but most of our time has been spent on bigger rentable tree houses with kitchens and a bathroom”, stated Dan Wright of Tree Top Builders.

As a certified arborist, Dan knows what it takes to make a treehouse work. “There are two things, you have to keep the tree healthy and happy and you need enough support to keep it up. The first is a biological question and the other is an engineering question. When you attach to a tree, you can’t girdle it or pin boards up against it, because those things will inhibit the future growth of the tree. The fasteners we use are tabs, tree attachment bolts, they are very large and can support a lot more load per attachment point. They help minimize damage to the tree”, explained Wright.

Camp LeConte resort in Gatlinburg, TN [Photo Credit: Camp Leconte]
Makings of a treehouse: A look inside the custom wood carpentry from Chester Springs [Photo Credit: Dan Wright/Treetop Builders]
Beautiful two-story Tree House in the Green Mountains, Vermont [Photo Credit: Glamping Hub]

The growth of the tree house market has been fueled not only by individuals wanting novel accommodations, but also by campsites looking for a competitive edge. “A typical customer knows that tree houses are going to fetch a higher rental rate than a cabin. What they want guidance on is utilities and how to make it work for them”, Wright stated.

Camp LeConte is a glamping resort that has embraced utilizing tree houses to attract new customers. “We are a family owned campground. We really weren’t planning on opening a campground, but did because it was a good piece of property and a good business. We wanted to do something different because there are so many campgrounds”, stated Chris Nicely owner of Camp LeConte.

The houses at Camp LeConte are not traditional treehouses, but are built off a ridge supported by timber. The design allows visitors access at ground level but once in the treehouse, they are 20 feet in the air among the trees. “We built the first one around 4 years ago and the second we built about two and a half years ago. The whole thing measures about 12 ft x 24 ft. They have a loft that is pretty large. The best part of it is the outdoor section. That’s what I like, you are outdoors, but at the same time you're not. All of ours are open air, so the windows are all made out of screen. It keeps the bugs out, but you feel like you are outside”, explained Nicely.

In addition to glamping resorts like Camp LeConte, individuals can locate tree houses across the country with services like Glamping Hub. “Glamping Hub is an online booking platform for outdoor unique accommodations. We book accommodations all over the world and our guests are looking for one of a kind accommodations like yurts, treehouses and beach villas”, explained Glamping Hub cofounder Ruben Martinez. “That's what's great about the treehouses that we list, they do come in all sort of styles but most of them will have all modern conveniences like fully equipped kitchens, multiple bedrooms fireplaces, wrap-around decks. It's important that our guests have a high level of comfort at these properties and because this type of accommodation comes at different price points, guests are able to book the level of comfort that works for their budget”.

Check out this "treehouse mansion" in Panama [Photo Credit: Dan Wright/Treetop Builders]
Dan Wright, founder of Tree Top Builders [Photo Credit: Dan Wright]
Romantic luxury Tree House rental and retreat in Walhalla, South Carolina [Photo Credit: Glamping Hub]

Renting treehouses has become quite popular. Individuals who normally wouldn’t consider camping, are attracted to their conveniences. “A lot of people who don’t camp want to try it. It’s a good way for them to experience the outdoors without having to pitch a tent. We are in the city limits of Gatlinburg and we have access to all the amenities in town including the trolley”, stated Nicely.

In addition to their tree houses, Camp LeConte features safari tents and retro-campers. The tents are a canvas tent on a wooden platform with full beds, electric, air conditioning, and heat. Treehouse rentals range from $149 to $199 depending on the time of year.

“The great thing about treehouses is that they are great for every type of traveler,” stated Martinez. Couples love them because they can be romantic, secluded and they have all the comforts of a hotel or apartment. Families love them because the surrounding area allows for their kids to run outside, play and explore in a safe environment. And then at the end of the day they can all eat dinner together and enjoy a beautiful sunset, sitting around a fire pit and gazing at the stars. Treehouses are one of the best sellers on the Glamping Hub website. There are certain states and countries that have more inventory which means more choices for the consumer. But guests love them because of how unique they are and the incredible views they offer that other accommodations often can't provide.

“Treehouses are selling quite well. Our customers have reported they are booked 9 months in advance. Treehouses are really hot right now. Every aspect of them is doing well. We are keeping busy and it doesn’t matter whether we are the contractor, doing design, or hardware. We like building things in trees and doing it right”, claimed Wright.


Jared Langenegger

A graduate of New Mexico State University with B.S. in wildlife and fisheries science, Jared spent 15 years working in fisheries and parks management. He enjoys camping, fishing, hunting, painting, and wood working.

Camp LeConte

Make Sure To Check Out:

Camp LeConte, a campground in Gatlinburg that specializes in glamping. Glamping is glamorous camping! If you love nature but also love hot showers, air conditioning,a heated swimming pool and WiFi then Camp LeConte is for you! 

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