Digital Detox in a Tulum Treehouse

Glamping review of the treehouse at Papaya Playa in Mexico by Kristen Kellogg 7120

Leading up to a recent last minute trip to Mexico, and my first time exploring the area of Tulum, my travel friend Megan and I spent some time researching a place to park ourselves for a few days in the Quintana Roo state. We scoured the internet seeking out unique accommodations in the main Tulum area which have stayed true to Tulum’s sustainable roots. And roots we happened upon. We would be staying the night high above the treetops with beachside views in an actual treehouse.

Glamping review of the treehouse at Papaya Playa in Mexico by Kristen Kellogg 7091

Newly opened in December 2016 and surrounded by dense Jungle, the Papaya Playa Project Treehouse, in collaboration with Design Hotels, is where we perched ourselves for a night of digital detox.

Glamping review of the treehouse at Papaya Playa in Mexico by Kristen Kellogg 7177

The Wi-Fi-less room allowed me to explore a deeper connection with my surroundings. I could feel the Mayan energy I’ve heard others speak about among the 360 degree views from our spacious deck with views of the white sandy beach. As golden hour passed, the clouds changed from shades of pinks and purples lighting up beneath the slowly swaying palms and the night sky faded to black revealing the shining stars above. Can you tell I didn’t want to leave?

Glamping review of the treehouse at Papaya Playa in Mexico by Kristen Kellogg 7048

The treehouse structure itself is literally intertwined with the rooted tree below and branches intersect throughout the bedroom and bathroom. As a rule of thumb, Papaya Playa Project leaves 93% of the jungle intact when adding additional rooms and structures to their property. In the case of the addition of the Treehouse, no flora or fauna was touched. Rustic charm and sustainable by nature, indigenous local materials like chukum, a tree resin that the Mayans used, were used in construction naturally fusing with the whitewashed walls keeping the interior naturally cool throughout the hot day.

Glamping review of the treehouse at Papaya Playa in Mexico by Kristen Kellogg 7062

I swung away the afternoon in a hammock chair on the middle layer of the treehouse. Just a floor above, as I first step inside the treehouse itself, I followed the rope ladder up above the bed reliving my youth hiding out in my own little nook of the world.

Glamping review of the treehouse at Papaya Playa in Mexico by Kristen Kellogg 7312

When Megan and I were ready to venture out and enjoy the beach, we set up shop under one of the many flatbed cabanas with small tables ordering an ice cold salty margarita (they have full service here) while watching kite surfers drift by between leisurely plunges in the turquoise ocean under the Yucatan sunshine. The on-site restaurant also serves delicious cold fresh pressed juices and crave-worthy fish tacos among other local delights.

Glamping review of the treehouse at Papaya Playa in Mexico by Kristen Kellogg 7104

Another rest and relaxation highlight on property, I wound and walked my way to the spa in the afternoon indulging in a holistic Mayan treatment. The Mayan White Clay Mask is offered in an open air treatment room overlooking the ocean, followed by an outdoor shower, and finished off with a massage. The detoxifying clay for this treatment is made by the barrel in the local neighboring community infused with stones and natural minerals. It left my skin happy for days to follow.

Glamping review of the treehouse at Papaya Playa in Mexico by Kristen Kellogg 6752

They call Papaya Playa a ‘project’ because it is an ongoing initiative to constantly improve the property goal of becoming a zero emissions by 2018. Project Director Emilio Heredia hopes others will catch onto the model they are working hard to create, striving to keep Tulum a destination that won’t outgrow itself in the future.

Glamping review of the treehouse at Papaya Playa in Mexico by Kristen Kellogg 7090

Papaya Playa Project works with as many small producers as possible sourcing on property offerings from neighboring communities like fabrics and interior furnishings inside the treehouse, honey shampoos and body wash, and fruit and vegetables. Within the last year, they’ve also added their own sacred to the Mayan stingless bees called Melipona, which have just produced their first honey inside the notches of the trees.

Glamping review of the treehouse at Papaya Playa in Mexico by Kristen Kellogg 7082
Glamping review of the treehouse at Papaya Playa in Mexico by Kristen Kellogg 7074

It is wonderful to know people like Emilio and properties like Papaya Playa Project exist, promoting conscious, sustainable living. Tulum has grown out of it’s once backpacker roots to now accommodating the prevalent upscale, often conscious traveler frequenting. Rustic in style, being in the Papaya Playa Treehouse feels like a natural luxurious stay.

Glamping review of the treehouse at Papaya Playa in Mexico by Kristen Kellogg 7044

When you choose to stay at Papaya Playa Project, you are not just paying for a room – you are investing in the future of Tulum. Papaya Playa Project is continuing to explore new ways to inspire their neighbors and fellow business owners in the area to follow their sustainable settings strong foundation and hopeful future for tourism in the lovely little rapidly growing region that is Tulum.

A Short History of Glamping Tents

Three Camel Lodge in Mongolia image by Gan Ulzii

Glamping sounds new and snazzy, but in reality, glamping goes back, way back. Although not known by its current moniker, sleeping outdoors with some comforts is a tradition shared by kings and tribesmen of centuries past.

For thousands of years, nomadic people — Bedouins, Berbers, Arabs and Kurds — have basically lived outdoors with the shelter of some kind of tent.

Royalty used elaborate Persian and Turkish tents, with inlaid jewelry and intricate patterns. Elephants carried the large, heavy tapestries of the tents. In the 1100s, during the time of Genghis Khan, Mongolians started using yurts, circular tents made from felts or animal skins.

Native American Tipis painting by Geroge Catlin in the 1830s - Wikipedia Native American Tipis – painting by Geroge Catlin in the 1830s

The natives of the Plains of North America stayed in tipis, large, conincal-shaped tents made with heavy wooden poles and animal skins. Virtually all tribes in the Great Plains from Texas to southern Canada used tipis.

Abraham Lincoln and generals at Antietam - wikipediaAbraham Lincoln and generals at Antietam

The first European tents for military use were made of fabric or leather to protect them from the elements. But the tents for kings and queens were a bit more posh—often colorful and made with turrets and adornments.

The idea of camping for fun and recreation is a more recent phenomenon rising in popularity for a little more than 100 years now.

Honeymoon tent at The Resort at Paws Up in MontanaHoneymoon Tent at The Resort at Paws Up in Montana

But traditional camping could be wet, cold, and just uncomfortable. Enter glamping, which offers a closeness with nature, but with minimal of that ‘icky’ effect or impact on the traveler.

In the early 20th century, wealthy Europeans started going on safaris in Africa, but did not want to part with all the comforts of home that they took for granted. So, they stayed in tents that were still luxuriously furnished with antiques, Persian rugs, and real beds and were catered to by butlers and chefs. Nowadays, thanks to the proliferation of glamping camps, lodges, and properties all over the world, you don’t have to be a king or queen to enjoy these outdoor stays.

Image credits: Three Camel Lodge, Wikipedia, The Resort at Paws Up.

A Glamping Accommodation Guide For The Experiential Traveler

glamping tent in oman with canvas club

In this ever-changing world we must try to keep up with what’s modern, popular and safe for our environment. Many of us want to experience a vacation getaway worth the time and money, something new and social media worthy. But with so many glamping options out there, how do you choose? Well, the best way is to identify the type of accommodation that best suits your needs after picking a destination. Here I will go over the many glamping accommodation options available to you, structures that may be somewhat familiar, unique and quirky, comfortable, eco-friendly or just mindbogglingly luxurious. Prepare to be amazed at what you may find!

Tipis/Teepees and Tents

Glamping Tent and Tipi - image from Holmen Husky Lodge in Norway left, Kohima Camp in India right

Let me first take you back to medieval times, when kings stayed in mobile tented camps while traveling. And long before that, when Native Americans still lived in tipis, also know as tepee or teepee. These luxury abodes are among the most popular options for glamorous camping. During cooler seasons the tents are heated by a wood-burning stove. The canvas homes are now built in different shapes and sizes, the most common shapes being Safari Tents which are large enough to fit a bed, bath, kitchen and living room and Bell Tents being the smaller, yet still spacious option. Tents and tipis are not permanent structures and some companies put them away during winter, while others pop them up on demand and for special events. Depending on the size your host offers, they can sleep 1-2 or 4-6 people.


Glamping Blog Treehouse accommodation at La Piantata in Italy

Treehouses are the most romantic and whimsical lodging option you can find. Choose from a tiny house or uniquely shaped structure built on or among the trees. Afraid of heights? Just take a look through your options, you’ll want to face your fears soon if it means staying in one of these!

Yurts and Domes

Glamping Blog - Cosy Under Canvas left, Savage River Lodge right

Yurts are canvas homes, still used in countries such as Mongolia, Kyrgyzstan, and Turkey among other destinations. Spacious and unique in shape, these units have no corners and are as large as a room or studio… same as domes, built out of canvas with panoramic windows or out of wood. Domes are made with a window-like opening in the middle of the ceiling, perfect for stargazing from your bed.

Lodges and Eco Lodges

Glamping Blog Lodge Accommodation in Chile at Tierra Patagonia

Lodges are considered a large house or hotel. Building methods for eco lodges are completed with sustainability and the surrounding environment in mind. Fully furnished rooms are rented separately and are located inside a large building where you may find a communal kitchen or restaurant on the main floor. Rooms may offer en-suite bathrooms and are meant to sleep 2-4 guests. Most smaller lodges can be completely rented out for exclusive use, so don’t be afraid to ask when planning out that special event.

Wagons and Shepherd’s Huts

Glamping Accommodations Conestoga Ranch wagon left and Withywood Shepherd's Hut right

If this does not take you back in time, I don’t know what else will. Wagons were pulled around by horses or oxen and were the only means of transportation in earlier days, carrying just about anything that could fit inside. Shepherd’s Huts or Shepherd’s Wagons were also used back in the 15th century, mostly in the UK and France. Now, wagons and shepherd huts are transformed into luxurious accommodations for the curious traveler. These fun and compact size rooms have wheels, though are not for you to take around town as you would a trailer. These units can fit up to a Queen bed, perfect for 2 with enough space to move around. With less furniture and amenities, some can sleep up to a family of 3-6.


Glamping Blog cabin accommodation at Windsock Acres in Colorado

When I think of winter, I imagine sitting in a cabin on a plush couch, staring at the flickering flames inside the fireplace while sipping on a warm cup of hot chocolate with marshmallows. These wooden structures resemble a cozy home away from home, often times built in a romantic setting near a river, lake, pond, or in the woods. For those of you who are not quite ready to go glamping under canvas, a cabin might just be for you.

Unique and Unusual

Glamping Blog accommodations Museum Hotel cave room in Turkey and Esjan bus in Iceland

The title is vague because of the vast variety of unique and unusual lodging options available nowadays. A stay in a cave room, shipping container, converted bus or jet wouldn’t have crossed your mind, not even through your travel agent’s mind unless they’ve done some research. These sometimes isolated accommodations are not easy to find on your own, they are private and uncommon. Thanks to the creative minds of the owners and architects, now you have something worth telling your friends about and publishing on your social media accounts.

Huts and Cottages

Glamping Blog cottage accommodation at Neeleshwar Heritage in India

Huts and Cottages are small and simple dwellings. Huts are structures of crude construction found just about anywhere, including on the beach and overwater. They are common in Mexico and throughout the Caribbean, Asia, and Africa. Huts can be made out of mud, stone or other material and are often roofed with bamboo, straw, palm leaves or branches. A cottage may be an upgrade in some countries, but glamping has turned both rustic accommodations into a comfortable lodging option.

Airstreams and Trailers

Glamping blog accommodations at Camping Miramar vintage trailer and Otway Escapes airstream in Australia

A home on wheels, Airstreams and Trailers are at times mobile, but usually sit on a lovely property for you to enjoy. Perfect for two, but considering the convertible dining room options, there’s room for a family of 3-5 in some units. Who doesn’t mind having a bathroom and kitchen just steps from your bed? If air conditioning is a must, check to see if this is an available option in your unit.

Villas and Bungalows

Glamping Blog villa accommodation in Maldives at Centara Grand Island Resort

Either way you go, you can’t go wrong with these two glamping accommodations. Who doesn’t dream of waking up in one of those popular overwater bungalows published often in travel magazines. They resemble a villa, which is a large luxurious residence on land. Roof options for both can vary between shingles, tiles, and thatches. Take a peek at the different destinations and see where it takes you!

Cubes and Pods

Glamping Blog pod and cube accommodations at Le Village de la Champagne in France

These dwellings are compact and accommodate a small number of people. The pods are built out of wood and remind me of hobbit holes with their unusual shape. Cubes are square or rectangle shaped dwellings and can range in size from a small to spacious box-like room.

Barns and Farmhouses

Glamping The Barn accommodation at Stonewall Ranch in California

Like the country or farm feel? These fully furnished homes are great for long vacations. Properties who do not have animals around may allow you to bring your dog with you!

Glamping with West Coast Expeditions Kayakers paddling on the outside of Spring Island are treated with crystal clear waters and rich kelp beds teaming with life in the Kyuquot Sound area.  Kyuquot Sound, Northern Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada.

If the type of accommodation you stay in is not as important, but the adventure that comes along with it is, you should look into Tour and Excursion companies. These companies focus on offering guests fun activities and tours through popular attractions while staying the night in a lodge, cabin, or hut among other lodging options.

Image Credits: Canvas Club, Holmen Husky Lodge, Kohima Camp, La Piantata, Cosy Under Canvas, Savage River Lodge, Tierra Patagonia, Conestoga Ranch, Withywood Sherpherd’s Hut, Windsock Acres, Museum Hotel, Esjan, Neeleshwar Heritage, Camping Miramar, Otway Escapes, Centara Grand Island Resort, Le Village de la Champagne, The Barn at Stonewall Ranch, West Coast Expeditions.