San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Tree House Lodge: Luxury in Sync with Nature

THE Tree House Lodge, on Costa Rica’s southern Caribbean coast, is a place where nature lovers and romantics can easily become enthused.Imagine staying in a house wrapped around sangrillo (blood wood) trees with the master bedroom in heaven and the kitchen the size of a dance hall. Or cooking and dining with a view, and being able to walk to the second floor over steel-cable bridges. A visit to the bathroom reveals another surprise: the buttressing roots of a giant sangrillo canopy tree separate the shower from the toilet, which is neatly framed by them.If this concept sounds a bit too adventurous for you, the lodge has two more houses to offer: the Beach House and the luxurious Beach Suite. The property is located in the residential zone of the Gandoca-Manzanillo National Wildlife Refuge, and is installed on a densely planted, four-hectare, oceanfront farm, with direct access to Punta Uva, one of the most beautiful beaches in the area.The individual two-story houses are 200-300 meters apart. Their exceptional architecture and high-quality furnishings provide guests with maximum comfort, in harmony with nature.THE mastermind behind this “nature hotel” is 33-year-old Edsart Besier, from the Netherlands, who bought the property six years ago.“It was a partially deforested swamp used for livestock; I had bought the property as an investment and did not plan to transform it into a tourist project,” remembers the multilingual Besier. “We had to drain it first. Then we began to plant all you can see here – except the native sangrillo trees.”In the beginning, Besier, a true-blue gardener, always had scissors in his pocket, and would ask people for plant cuttings and offshoots. The lush botanical gardens around the houses now feature 50 different kinds of palm trees and the largest heliconia collection in the area.Privacy and tranquility are mandatory on the property, which also houses the enclosure of Iguanaverde, a project initiated and financed by Besier (see separate story).BESIER, who says he feels at home in the southern Caribbean region, lived in an old school bus when he first came here, but soon missed the comfort of a bathroom and kitchen. Little by little, he began to add platforms, walls and roofs. Before he knew it, the construction had become a real tree house, featuring a large living area, fully equipped open kitchen and two bedrooms that sleep up to six guests.Ceiling fans, mosquito nets and safety boxes are standard in all the houses. Their main construction material is hardwood from fallen trees, some of which were hauled out of the jungle by oxen.“The basic idea of my houses is to show that it’s possible to build without damaging the environment around you –it’s unnecessary to cut the trees,” Besier explains. “That is why the trees go through the roof.”Eighty meters from the shoreline, Besier erected his second construction, the Beach House. It has two bedrooms that can sleep up to five guests, with hot water in the bathroom and kitchen. The large veranda and the master bedroom on the second floor look out onto the ocean. From the spiral staircase dividing the kitchen from the living area to the floors, chairs, tables and closets, the house and its furnishings are made of different kinds of local timber, such as níspero (chicle) and surá (Indian almond). The beautiful natural materials with their warm hues form an integrated whole of shapes and colors.BESIER collected the ideas and inspirations for his constructions on his travels. Though highly interested in building, he never received formal training in architecture.“In construction, I never liked square,” he says. “I believe in organic shapes. Things must continue; they must be round, soft.”After one year of building, he finished his biggest project, the Beach Suite, in September. Construction materials included wood, concrete, glass, stone and plaster. The 280-square-meter country-style house features a bounty of creative ideas, and offers a luxurious hideaway and an ideal setting for special events.Accessible by its own private driveway, the three-bedroom house can sleep up to six guests. One bedroom is air-conditioned and has a separate bathroom.An environmentally friendly heating system supplies hot water to the kitchen andbathrooms.Highlights are the open gourmet kitchen and the marvelous housetop terrace, idealfor alfresco dining under the stars. Certainly unique in Costa Rica is the 65-squaremeter, UFO-shaped bathroom, attached to the living area. This rose-colored vault is the brainchild of artist Dawn Yates from Louisville, Kentucky. Outfitted with Jacuzzi, double shower, two sinks and a toilet, the bathroom was built by local craftsmen under Besier’s direction.LIGHT seeps in through colorful, small windows of different shapes and sizes, beaming you into a dream world with the charm of Ali Baba’s cave. The showpiece is the enormous anaconda that winds around the entrance to the vault. The entire body of this jungle guardian is adorned with shimmering blue glass marbles. Its open mouth functions as a shower to water the bromeliads that grow in wall niches below the reptile’s head.Yates’ creation is especially attractive at night. After sunset, the bathroom becomes a magical place. The windows of the vault begin to glow; from outside, it looks like a mysterious, star-filled sky turned upside down.Should you ever feel like leaving this little paradise, outdoor activities abound in the area. The jungle around the farm is excellent for birding and hiking. Right across the street from the lodge, visitors can tour a Swiss-run, organically grown cocoa plantation, where they can watch cocoa processing and sample freshly made chocolate goodies.Mariposería Punta Uva, a butterfly garden 400 meters south of the hotel, features unique species. Guided walks in the Gandoca-Manzanillo National Wildlife Refuge are among the most interesting and exciting experiences to be had in the area.Sports include surfing, swimming, snorkeling, diving, kayaking and horseback riding, while cooks and diners will find stores and restaurants within walking distance of the hotel.THE Tree House Lodge is on the coastal road from Puerto Viejo to Manzanillo, 200 meters south of the primary school in Playa Chiquita. The main entrance to the lodge is flanked by two larger-than-life iguanas.Tree House/Beach House rates are $120 per night, double occupancy. Rates for the Beach Suite are $245 double occupancy; each additional person pays $45.Rates are the same year-round and include taxes. Breakfast can be brought in by guests or enjoyed at nearby restaurants. For information or reservations, call 750-0706 or 843-9

Comments are closed.