Treehouse Retreat in the Rainforest of Puerto Rico
Will I love This Holiday?
Travel Style: Glamping in a treehouse.
Cost: US $200 - $275/ night
Where: Puerto Rico’s eastern coast.
Length: 2 day minimum
Physical Rating: Easy, Not Accessible
Companions: Solo, Couples, or two good friends
Children: No, and no pets
What: Rustic treehouse in rainforest garden setting.
Group Size: 1-2 people per tree house. (There are 4 treehouses. )
1. Serenity, Beauty, Renewal: These are the three words your host uses to describe this lodge. We agree. It is an oasis of calm.
2. Hide or Seek: Stay enveloped by the rainforest garden for your entire visit, or seek out the lively arts and culture scene in near-by old San Juan.
3. Jewels Dot the Green: The garden is a magnet for tropical and migratory birds, your porch is the perfect spot to watch.
4. Pack Your Passion: The property was created to be an inspiration for artists. Bring your sketch pad, paints, writing implements, or camera. Leave intrusive technology home.
5. Live in a Treehouse: if you didn’t get the chance when you were a kid, this is it. Yes, it’s really cool.
Is This Place Right For Me?
Looking for a short break from civilization? As your host says, come to “relax, refresh, renew.” This is only a four hour flight from New York area airports and no passport is required of US citizens since Puerto Rico is a United States territory. Come for a romantic long weekend or a mid-week escape to the embrace of nature. It is the perfect getaway for singles, couple or good friends. The property offers no guided tours or other recreations, just a comfortable place to sleep (queen sized bed, no cots or sofas), a lovely, private, bath with a rain-head shower and great views, a small, well-equipped kitchenette complete with a French press for your morning coffee, good plant-based food, peace, quiet, and the lush tranquility of a rainforest garden. There are no refunds for cancellations, however, if you cancel in writing at least two weeks prior to the booking, you may reschedule according to availability.
What to Expect
You will be enveloped in nature, breath perfumed air. The tropical atmosphere is humid but the treehouses are constructed in the old ways to allow gentle breezes from the Trade Winds to naturally cool the comfortable treehouse high in their lush tropical garden.
The “silence” of the rainforest is a cacophony of sound: you will hear buzzing and chirping, the soft rustle of wind through the leaves and water bubbling and flowing in the stream. The signature call of a zillion coquis, tiny frogs that are the unofficial mascot of Puerto Rico, fills the evening air.
You may have the company of small colorful lizards in your treehouse. They will not bother you, but any mosquitoes or other insects should beware. In case guests desire more than lizard bug-guards, insect repellant, both natural and DEET-based is provided. But turning on the fan at night usually does the trick.
Meals: Breakfast: All you need for a delicious plant-based breakfast is provided for you in your treehouse. Each treehouse has a full kitchen. You are invited to bring your own favorite non-meat ingredients for your lunch or dinner.
Our garden restaurant: The wonderful on-site alfresco restaurant will be open in spring 2019, serving home-cooked, gourmet, plant-based cuisine made from ingredients grown on the terraced garden.
Please note: The entire property is a no meat zone, meat will not be offered or allowed to be brought onto the property. However, the food is amazing - you will never miss it. There are cafes and restaurants for meat and fish meals off-site but close to the property.
Cost: The treehouses range in cost from 175 - 225 USD per night plus a 7% tax. There are no hidden fees, but you may want to consider a small tip for the housekeeper. There is a two night minimum. Check-in begins at 3pm, check-out at 12PM. Reservations are subject to availability. Full payment is required in advance.
Cancellation: There are no refunds, but you may reschedule based on availability if the cancellation your reservation in writing up to two weeks in advance.
Transportation: The property has no shuttle service. Rent a car at the airport, it is less expensive and more reliable than a taxi service from and to the airport. A car will also be handy if you decide to take a hike in the nearby El Yunque National Forest, the only tropical rainforest in the United States or explore any of the rest of the island’s cultural and natural wonders.
Don’t Miss: Nearby, discover the waterfalls, check out ancient Taino petroglyphs or look for the critically endangered Puerto Rican parrot in El Yunque National Forest, this is one of the locations into which the parrots are being reintroduced. Or explore the beaches for sea turtles (green, leatherback and hawksbill) along the Northeast Ecological Corridor. Check out Puerto Rico’s cultural and arts scene. Head to Old San Juan for historic Spanish architecture and stop into the galleries specializing in the work of local artists. Ask your host for the location of nearby public artworks – the artist might have been inspired by his / her stay in the treehouse you are sleeping in now.
When all construction is completed, there will be only four treehouses in total. As of this writing, three are available for guests.
Each small, wooden tree house, floating on pillars high above the ground, has an equipped kitchenette and a luxurious bath. Each come with one queen sized bed, no cot, sofa or other sleeping accommodation is provided, nor is there space for any.
These are one or two guest maximum accommodations. The treehouses are built on the side of a canyon, each has at least as much outside deck space as inside and each has breathtaking views of the gardens, the forest or the river.
We do not use any mechanical air conditioning. Each treehouse includes traditional elements such as huge door and window openings to let in the Trade Winds, which come from the northeast. The natural breezes alone are almost always enough to keep the treehouses comfortable. In case of unusually hot weather, we have a floor fan in each structure. Each has as much or more outside space as inside.
This is not an accessible property. Their are stairways to each tree houses and stone and gravel paths throughout.
Wildlife You Might See
From your host, “The garden’s fauna includes numerous species of birds, many of them endemic. I am not a birder, but we recently had a couple [of guests,] both birders, who said that they saw more species of birds from out on our property than anywhere in El Yunque National Forest. During a total of three and a half hours of observation, they sighted 72 birds, 16 different species. I have requested their bird list. A few of the endemic species that I have been able to identify include the Puerto Rican Cuckoo, the Puerto Rican spindalis, and the Puerto Rican Emerald [hummingbird.]” The animal residents include healthy and garrulous populations of coquis‘, multiple lizard and iguana species, butterflies and more.
Birds: The island has over 350 bird species ranging from hummingbirds to raptors to boobies, 18 are endemic species including the bananaquit, the Puerto Rican spindalis, the Puerto Rican tody, the Puerto Rican woodpecker, the Puerto Rican emerald and green mango (hummingbirds), Adelaide’s and Elfin-woods Warblers, and the Puerto Rican night jar. All over this tiny island are special reserved areas for wildlife and habitat and the birds are coming back. The island’s on-going program to save the Puerto Rican Amazon, one of the world’s most endangered is starting to show results. Check out near-by release sites. About 120 avian species breed on the archipelago.
Coquì Frogs: 16 different species of these tiny frogs, also considered to be the unofficial symbol of Puerto Rico, hide among the leaves and flowers. They are so small that you will have to search to find the coqui, but just listen, the air is filled with their song. Ask your host for his favorite places to spot them in the garden.
Lizards: Look for 20 different Gecko species, plus Anoles, worm lizards, and four amievas. A single skink species and a galliwasp are both endemic. Significantly larger are the several iguana species that call Puerto Rico home.
Bats: The only endemic mammal on the island. Take a day trip to the near-by Karst caves.
Marine Life: Off the island’s coast line, you may find West Indian manatee, dolphins, sea turtles (leatherback and hawksbill both nest on the archipelago), eagle rays, sharks and a rainbow of reef fish.
The property is set on three acres bordering a protected area of what remains of the only tropical rainforest in North America. From our host, “Much of the rainforest on our property was clear-cut about a 100 years ago and was barren when we acquired it in 2005. Our aim was not to “restore” the rainforest, but to heal the space and to create a tropical garden and ecosystem complimentary to the rainforest. In 2007 we planted 150 – 200 Puerto Rican Royal palms (Roystonea birinqena) and hundreds of other palms. I tried to plant every palm native to Puerto Rico. A few are easy to get (such as the Royal Palms), others (such as the Manaca Palm and Palmas de Sierra) came from the government conservation agency with the proviso that we collect and give them any seeds so that their nursery can propagate those species and reforest areas in the wild.”
Ten years after the replanting began, the space is now a thriving ecosystem. And although Hurricane Maria devastated much of what was above ground, the roots remained string and most of the plants began to regenerate themselves within weeks, the recovery has included additional flora species probably deposited in seed form by the storm.
The Design and Construction of the Treehouses
The treehouses are built of plantation-grown, Southern Yellow Pine. No forests have been cut. The structures have been carefully sited to avoid cutting any trees, “except for one that had a parasitic infection and was already dying. In a couple of cases, we built the structure around a tree.”
The treehouses are designed and constructed in the island’s traditional way which helped account for the fact that they suffered only minor damage by Hurricane Maria. They are modest in size, precluding the excessive use of materials. Each was built, repaired after Maria, and is maintained by artisans living nearby providing substantial on-going work for the local people.
The cabinetry is constructed of Puerto Rican Teak, grown locally on small-scale plantations and built by a local artisan. We chose teak for its moisture resistance ensuring that the furniture will retain its beauty and integrity in our humid climate for many years to come.
This is a small island. Many of our necessary supplies are not produced here. We always look to locally- produced goods and services first, and only when not available, do we look to the outside.
Grey water goes directly into the garden. We recycle what is possible in Puerto Rico, which is plastic, metal and cardboard. Composting was recently implemented.
Currently, our treehouses include plant-based (delicious) breakfasts. Our restaurant, opening in early 2019, will also be completely plant based featuring locally grown produce. The entire property is a “no meat” zone. There is no microwave in the restaurant kitchen nor the guest treehouses as our chef, another local talent, feels that it diminishes the nutritional quality of the food.
We can’t afford solar power at this time but that is the future plan — to get off the grid. Self-sufficiency is a beautiful concept but one that takes substantial initial investment to achieve.
All of our staff is local, from the gardeners to the chef to the, managers and contractors, local people maintain and manage our property. But, after living through Hurricane Maria and its aftermath, I, too, feel that I am “Boricus” (the ancient name for Puerto Ricans).
From its inception over 10 years ago to the daily business today, the local community has provided inspiration, materials and help with every phase of development and operation.Support of local artists and culture is very important to me. Part of my original dream for the treehouses is a local-artist-and-writers-in-residence program. Local artists began staying and working here since before we opened for guests, during reconstruction after the hurricane, and will continue. Their work can be seen in local galleries as well as on the street.We want non-local people to experience the unique culture and nature of Puerto Rico.
We encourage our guests to visit places our historic sites and towns, the stret art, galleries and museums, the farm-to-table food scene, musical events and other cultural attractions. And we support the island’s conservation efforts by encouraging visits to near-by El Yunque National Forest and the Northeast Ecological Corridor (locally known as The Corridor), and the Las Cabezas de San Juan Nature Reserve with its Laguna Grande, one of Puerto Rico’s three biobays and other parks and conservation areas. And a short cruise beyond are the famed beaches and wildlife reserves of Culebra Island.