Indulge your inner child at these tree house hotels.
It’s well known that spending time in nature decreases the stress hormone cortisol, but recent research also claims that exposure to phytoncides – natural compounds emitted by trees – boosts the body’s immune system. Enter Chewton Glen’s Treetox program, a five-day package available to guests staying in the 72-room hotel’s contemporary Treehouse Suites. Administered by a team of therapists, it includes a one-hour wrap using clay and an infrared blanket to draw out toxins, a two-hour Natura Bissé Zest and Zen treatment, and three private yoga, Pilates, or guided Nordic Walk sessions in New Forest National Park.
Winvian Farm, Morris, Connecticut
Travelers flock to Winvian Farm to experience its 18 whimsical cottages, ranging from the Library (home to a book-lined, wraparound mezzanine) to the nature lover’s choice: the 780-square-foot Tree- house, stilted 35 feet above the ground. There are plenty of ways to stay active at this 113-acre estate, from biking to canoeing the Bantam River. However, it’s Winvian’s commitment to using ultra-seasonal ingredients that serves as the most impressive health highlight. With its three greenhouses and three acres of organic gardens, guests needn’t look far to witness the seed-to-table circle at this Relais & Châteaux property.
While Japanese shinrin-yoku, or forest bathing, has become a popular way to sample nature’s restorative powers, water also boasts serious healing properties. Studies show that exposure to ocean water and air, for instance, positively impacts the nervous system, lung health, and skin. At the 13-room Imanta Resorts Punta de Mita, the three-story, butler-serviced Tree House – perched on a cliff overlooking the Pacific and ensconced by lush jungle foliage – offers the best of both worlds. Be sure to take a deep cleansing breath on the expansive wood terraces wrapping around this private villa, which is punctuated by a thatched rooftop.
Lion Sands Game Reserve, Mpumalanga, South Africa
Breakthroughs in brain health are big in today’s headlines, and recent findings indicate that activities such as going on safari can actually cause your brain to develop. The thinking: Exposure to novel environments causes new dendrites to form. Pair it with the rush of mood-lifting dopamine from perceived risk, and you have one healthy adventure. However, hearing a lion roar or a hyena cackle possesses little danger when you’re perched in the Kingston Treehouse at Lion Sands. Guests can simply lift the drawbridge of the 645-square-foot sanctuary and sip the Veuve Clicquot chilling in their gourmet picnic basket as the sun sets, safely aboveground and semi-encased in glass. Only the glow of lanterns distracts from the bounty of stars overhead in this electricity-free escape, one mile from the main resort. Sojourns in one of the reserve’s three tree houses are an add-on experience to standard stays at the 18-room Lion Sands – the only private reserve to straddle both Sabi Sand Game Reserve and Kruger National Park.
Conservationists can rest easy in the Cooper’s Hawk Tree House, one of three lofted lodgings at the eco-conscious Primland resort. Built around a tangle of old-growth branches, the cedarwood cabin soars 1,300 feet above the Dan River, offering bird’s-eye views of the Kibler Valley. Despite its opulent interiors fitted with Frette linens and Bulgari bath products, attention gives way to the 564-square-foot deck, where guests can dine alfresco. The 51-room LEED-certified resort goes to great lengths to honor and protect the environment: Elements restaurant features local, sustainable ingredients; rooftops at the lodge are made from recycled tires; and bio filters are in place to help protect the native trout population. Even the Donald Steel-designed golf course collects rain runoff for irrigation and is Audubon certified. Personal health is easily heeded here, too, with hiking, biking, and horseback rides along trails snaking through the 12,000 acres of private land. Test your outdoor acumen with some geocaching or creatively alleviate stress with fly-fishing, sport shooting, or even tomahawk throwing.