Better Than Burning Man: Hollywood's New Glam Getaways Include Yurts, Treehouses and Domes
Commune with nature's splendor in deluxe outposts where stars including Anne Hathaway, Harrison Ford and Taylor Swift go to disconnect.
Festival lodgings have their drawbacks. Despite multimillion-dollar yurts erected for Elon Musk, Katy Perry, Jeffrey Katzenberg and Mark Zuckerberg at Burning Man in Nevada's Black Rock City — where the event runs Aug. 27 to Sept. 4 — or air-conditioned Burner Yurts at Jared Leto's recent Thirty Seconds to Mars microfestival Camp Mars, dust and disorganization can prevail. And let's not forget the epic fail of Fyre Fest's geodesic dome accommodations.
Nature-loving entertainment insiders who crave adventure — but not port-a-potties and dehydration — increasingly are turning to outdoorsy destinations, from beautifully designed treehouses in a Scandinavian forest or on a South Pacific island to yurts and geodesic domes that allow views of, say, the aurora borealis. "People are looking for experiences; that's the trend right now," says travel concierge Melissa Schwartz of Destination Happiness. "Their takeaway is beyond a five-star hotel." While on a break from shooting Tomb Raider, Walton Goggins glamped in South Africa's Timbavati Game Reserve. "Man, I seek out those experiences! I don't think I've ever stayed in a normal hotel room that I was paying for," he says. "Being out in the space and knowing what's around you is very real."
One reason such accommodations are on the rise but under the radar, says travel expert Jaclyn Sienna India: "Privacy is huge." Ninety percent of clients she books in exotic treehouses or domes have private Instagram accounts: "Someone at the top of their game in Hollywood doesn't need to share where exactly they travel." Try one of these luxe outposts for better-than-Burning Man adventures:
Treehouses have a certain allure to the industry. Laura Dern has said her fantasy is to move into one, while designer Roderick Romero has built them for Julianne Moore, Sting and Val Kilmer. "This trend is so popular," says Pete Nelson of Animal Planet's Treehouse Masters, who just added a seventh treehouse to his Treehouse Point ($300/night) outside Seattle, where Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson has stayed, and is building a new resort of 27. Nelson constructs architectural wonders — always with a bar and plush bed — for the likes of musician Zac Brown and, most recently, 13-year-old America’s Got Talent star Grace Vanderwaal, who right after winning said, “I want the treehouse guys to build me a sick treehouse.” Nelson is discussing a structure with Eddie Vedder and is at work on a trio of "out-of-control, beautiful treehouses," worth well into seven figures on a major Seattle corporate campus, where "anybody who works there can disconnect, go out in the woods and get creative."
Anne Hathaway, Taylor Swift and Drew Barrymore have enjoyed Post Ranch Inn resort, which features ultra-high-end treehouses, "built on stilts 9 feet above the forest floor, each with a cozy fireplace and a skylight to see the stars — but no TVs to completely disconnect," says Quintessentially Travel's Kelly Grumbach. Closed this winter for renovation, the Big Sur icon's just-reopened reclaimed wood, steel, stone and glass structures boast new sound systems and king beds with locally handcrafted organic, dye-free 600-thread-count bedding. A fourth treehouse reopens this month (from $1,375/night). Also in Big Sur is Treebones, which closed for three weeks after the bridge collapse on Highway One. Its Human Nest and treehouses have seen actors Shay Mitchell and Maggie Grace (Supercon), who called it “such a magical place to wake up.” The newest Twig Hut, handwoven by artist Jayson Fann, is BYOSB (bring your own sleeping bag; from $175/night). In San Jose del Cabo, top actresses, directors and models are heading to ACRE, a foodie farmland destination with an acclaimed hyperlocal restaurant that, in spring, began constructing airy treehouses with luxury linens and European bath fixtures (from $275, acrebaja.com).
Farther afield in Indonesia is Nihi Sumba Island's opulent treehouse compound, Mamole, with two pools and private beach access, which Amazon Studios head of comedy, drama and VR Joe Lewis has called a temporary home. Says recent guest and Gotham actress Jamie Chung: "You are truly on the edge of wildness, with a 180-degree view of the ocean — it was hard to leave" ($6,000/night, inclusive of food).
At Fiji's Laucala private island, guests who seek even more seclusion — like Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel and Miranda Kerr, honeymooners there this summer — walk down a long rope bridge through the treetops to the thatched-roof Peninsula Residence, which hangs off the cliff's edge ($6,800/night, all-inclusive). “The place to stay when visiting Kaikoura in New Zealand,” says Gen Hershey of Genuine Access travel consulting, is Hapuku Lodge, whose individual treehouses nestled in a native Kanuka grove offer expansive views in all directions. “Love the wood-burning fireplaces, and the food is fantastic.” (From $722/night, hapukulodge.com. At Inkaterra Reserva Amazonica in Peru's Amazon, Tony Goldwyn Instagrammed his daughter on the swinging bridge 85 feet above the jungle floor, leading to Canopy Tree House, with a 24-hour butler (from $300/night).
Chewton Glen, in Hampshire, England, beloved by Gwyneth Paltrow, Kate Moss and Geri Halliwell, debuted another elegant Treehouse Suite in October, bringing their grand total to 14, each with dining and living areas, private terraces and floor-to-ceiling windows erected 35 feet above the floor of a secluded valley. Everything is delivered to treehouse dwellers, from curated meals (like foraged jam and honey from the grounds) to private spa treatments on their balconies. (From $1,100/night, chewtonglen.com)
Sweden's Treehotel "is one of the most spectacularly designed hotels in the world," says John Spence, president of experiential luxury travel company Scott Dunn USA, of the architectural wonder in the woods with seven one-of-a-kind accommodations. Solange Knowles visited, writing on Instagram, "Yesterday I slept in this mirror tree house, ate moose meatballs, bathed in the Northern Lights (the sun never set!)." Just debuted: the 7th Room, 32 feet high in the trees, with a pine growing through the patio and a net where guests can sit, seemingly suspended in midair (from $607/night). Beloved by studio execs who want to wow their kids, the Arctic Treehouse Hotel, opened less than a year ago, is a compound of sleek luxury treehouses and glass houses perched in the forest beside Finland's SantaPark (from $644/night, including breakfast).
YURTS, DOMES, GERS
Harrison Ford and Calista Flockhart — as well as Bill Gates, arriving by floatplane — have traveled to the secluded shore of Tanzania's Lake Tanganyika to stay in one of Greystoke Mahale's six yurt-like, open-fronted bandas in the Mahale Mountain forest treeline. Each is raised off the ground, with dressing rooms and upstairs chill-out decks reached by a canoe-ladder; a highlight is chimpanzee trekking through the lush green forest (from $690/night per person, all-inclusive, nomad-tanzania.com).
Three Camel Lodge, a luxurious, remote Nomadic Expeditions camp in Mongolia's Gobi Desert, is "on a lot of must-do lists," says Sienna India. Well off the beaten path, with the nearest Wi-Fi connection more than 300 miles away, the singular outpost has enabled top talent — this summer a Tony-winning composer, hit TV series actress and a Broadway performer — to truly unplug. Each yurt-like ger ("ger" is Mongolian for "home," while "yurt" is Turkish for "dormitory") features a bar, massage ger and screening room (two-night inclusive stays from $1,985).
Closer to L.A., Joshua Tree's Dome in the Desert, so eye-catching that Airbnb built a mini version inside its Portland HQ, is a geodesic dome, an angular, rounded structure popularized by architect Buckminster Fuller in the 1950s. The boho-chic outpost has been visited by directors, writers and a couple of studio execs along with "award-winning musicians who sought inspiration in the desert to work on new songs," says co-owner Kathrin Smirke (from $185/night).
After hitting Stockholm, Sarah Jessica Parker, Matthew Broderick and their kids decamped to Island Lodge in spacious, dome-shaped tents with panoramic windows, wood stoves, reindeer skins and luxe Mille Notti linens. According to the property, Parker and family took a cooking class and celebrated the Swedish midsummer with a smorgasbord and aquavit ($550/night per person, all-inclusive with private chef).
New in 2015, Aurora Dome in Finnish Lapland is designed with a glass wall to provide a window to the elusive aurora borealis; it's "the best place to view the Northern Lights," says Sienna India ($118/night). The travel expert adds that Finland's Golden Crown Levin Iglut, "one of the most serene locations in the world," has seen royals and pop stars and this winter booked an Oscar-nominated director. The glass-ceilinged igloos provide personal drivers and chefs along with ice fishing and reindeer safaris (from $386/night). Further south, the Swiss Alps' high-tech, igloo-like geodesics at Whitepod Hotel provide ski gear at more than 5,500 feet above sea level (from $360/night).
Talent including Marina Benedict and Marty Papazian go to Patagonia’s Torres del Paine National Park for dramatic geodesic domes built in the same shape as ancient Kaweskar tribe dwellings at EcoCamp Patagonia, the area’s first fully sustainable accommodation. Wildlife excursions are on the itinerary before crawling into a king-size bed under a clear domed ceiling to gaze at stars. (From $320/night, with breakfast, ecocamp.travel)
Paws Up is the classic American glamping resort, visited by everyone from Paltrow to The Rolling Stones (who bought out the entire 37,000-acre property) — now with brand-new, uberluxe three-bedroom tents that have heated slate flooring. Top Chef winner Brooke Williamson, who hosts annual culinary events at the property, says “the tents, especially North Bank, are truly stunning, having all the five-star amenities but also that really authentic camping experience.” Laura Prepon described her visit to Kelly Ripa and Michael Strahan in glowing terms: “I can rough it, but Paws Up is the best. We did a cattle drive, which was amazing, and I was able to fly fish.” (Three-bedroom tents from $3,517/night for four people, pawsup.com)
The glamping wedding is trending, too: Channing Tatum’s and Elizabeth Banks’ stylist Wendi Ferreira (who works with her sister Nicole) and her new husband, Manuel Bronson, were married this July at Utah’s Conestoga Ranch (conestogaranch.com). Based off a trip there last summer, they chose the location for the “rustic ease of the resort,” says Ferreira, whose 135 guests stayed in fancy canvas tents with en suite bathrooms. “It was magic.”
Long a top pick for the likes of Dern, Natalie Portman, Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet, Ventana Big Sur, an Alila Resort, launches a new glamping program this fall (along with a total renovation of its rooms), with 15 safari-style tents offering custom-designed mattresses, natural-fiber rugs and furniture designed by on-staff craftsmen using reclaimed redwood from the adults-only (and now dog-friendly) property. The same five-star amenities carry over to the tents, along with natural timber walking sticks, a wine-and-cheese picnic backpack and nightly turndown featuring hot cocoa, a s’mores kit and hot-water bottles to warm the bedsheets. (From $325/night, ventanabigsur.com)
Dunton Hot Springs has been visited by Paltrow and Christy Turlington, and its seasonal sister property four miles downriver, Dunton River Camp, offers 640-square-foot canvas tents on elevated platforms in an alpine clearing in the Colorado Rockies, along with gas stoves, private porches and locally sourced gourmet meals. “We love this property for full buyouts for Hollywood’s top execs who want the ultimate in privacy and a quick getaway from L.A.,” says Sienna India, “It’s great for celebrations.” General manager Sarah Cruse says celebrity guests “love the sound of silence and only want to talk about what size fish they caught or the name of the horse they rode.” ($1,500/night, duntonrivercamp.com)
Vancouver being a major production hub, visiting industry seeks solace 45 minutes away (by floatplane) at Clayoquot, near Tofino, in the UNESCO Clayoquot Sound Biosphere Reserve. “The best glamping you could ever want,” says Schwartz of the secluded, all-inclusive $1,400-a-night-per-person tented safari camp open mid-May though mid-September. “People cry when they leave — it is truly summer camp for adults, but very, very high end.” (Three-night packages from $4,233, wildretreat.com)
After a stay in a luxury Bali resort, Sienna India says “heavy-hitter” families head to Amanwana’s dramatically draped tents, like the super-private property on Moyo Island, offering a new perspective on Indonesia ($750/night, aman.com). Or they go to Sujan Jawai, with its hand-stitched tents (the largest comes with a private butler and heated swimming pool), which can be worked into a family’s first India trips “for a few days of nature, but done in a luxurious way.” (From $1,011/night, all-inclusive, sujanluxury.com)
This story first appeared in the Aug. 23 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.