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.

Escape to Samaná: Dominican Tree House Village

We woke up to a gentle breeze, tropical birds, and Caribbean sunshine. We rubbed our eyes, from sleep and a bit of disbelief. This wasn’t like any hotel room or even glamping lodge we’d ever stayed in. Our view was of a lush forest, the leaves had intense detail…we were in the boughs of a tree. This is the Dominican Tree House Village, an eco-retreat so dreamy, we had to pinch ourselves.


Nestled in the jungles of Samaná, a lush peninsula on the northeast coast of the DR with mountains, jungles, beaches and islands, The Dominican Tree House Village (DTHV) is one of a handful of lodges in this little known paradise. The 15,000 people that live here are proud of the region’s beauty and are making efforts to develop it slowly and sustainably, with environmentally conscious hoteliers like DTHV leading the charge.

03 DTHV Arrival

When we saw the DTHV sign pointing up a winding path that vanished into the greenery, we knew the adventure had already begun. Just as we started to size up our luggage and our level of physical fitness, three staff members appeared: one with a tray of tropical drinks and two others to whisk our bags away. We strolled the stone paths, passing the waterfall-fed pool, vibrant bromeliads, birdlife, and then shortly arrived at the canopy of cabins.


The main building set the tone for the village—made from locally sourced materials, open-air, bohemian decor, and fabulous views to the jungle. Hammocks hung from the columns and seating areas offered nature books, board games, and plush cushions for relaxation. The manager Melissa came to greet us, “Please make yourselves at home!” She explained the casual and social nature of DTHV and said meals (included in the price of the stay) are served family style and often turn into an evening of lively conversation, games of Uno, and the occasional merengue session. “If you need anything at all, just ask!”

05 DTHV Treehouse

Melissa led us through maze of suspension bridges and elevated pathways to our private tree house, one of 22 on the property. We climbed the stairs, which wended their way around two tree trunks, and reached our chic quarters. A queen bed draped with a mosquito net, whimsical swing chair, locking rattan trunk, ceiling fan, and power outlets…this was hardly roughing it. “One last thing,” said Melissa, “the shared bathrooms are downstairs.” We knew there was a catch! We descended, expecting summer-camp latrines, but these single occupancy bathrooms were gorgeous! Walls made with recycled glass bottles, seashell chandeliers, a flushing toilet, spacious shower, and plenty of privacy. Phew! (Though if you still want an ensuite bathroom, you can book the VIP Tree House.)


After a breakfast of German pancakes, fresh fruit, and Dominican coffee, we geared up for ziplining—DTHV’s signature activity. Before they even built the lodge, they worked with German engineers to create the tallest and highest-rated zipline experience in the Caribbean: Samaná Zipline. With helmets and harnesses secured, we began the 12-line course, flying 450-feet above the canopy, rivers, and through the dense jungle. We had never done tandem ziplining or tried flips, twirls, and upside-down kisses, but that made it our best zipline to date. To top off an exciting morning, there was a fantastic waterfall and swimming hole near the end of the course.

07-El Valle

Already wet from our dip in Cascada Lulu, we decided to continue to the nearby Playa el Valle. This beach was our favorite in all of the Dominican Republic, complete with lush mountains, rugged cliffs, palm trees, golden sand, and an endearing local’s scene. Fishermen were mending their nets, boys were tossing around the baseball, and Emma the palapa owner was serving cold Presidente beers and the catch of the day. We walked the shore to the dramatic cliffs and found the shade of a palm tree for the little beach reading and a cat nap.

For guests who want to explore more of the incredible Samaná region, DTHV offers tons of day trips: humpback whale watching, horseback riding to El Limón waterfall, ATV tour to Playa Rincon, river rafting on Yaque del Norte River and more!

08 Los Haitises Bacardi Island

We opted for the boat trip to Los Haitises National Park and Bacardi Island. Leaving from a private dock in Samaná Bay, we took the speed boat to the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve of Los Haitises’ Bird Cay. The dramatic karst landscape and soaring birds of prey was straight out of a Bond movie. The park’s interior is a system of brackish rivers, dense mangrove, and caves filled with ancient pictographs from the Taíno natives. With 618-square miles of terrain and 58 islands, there was enough here to explore for weeks…though Bacardi Island was calling! An islet with golden sand, swaying palm trees, and beach bars blending tropical drinks…sounds like a rum advertisement, right? Well, Bacardi shot a campaign in the 80s and Cayo Levantado has been dubbed Bacardi Island ever since.


We returned to the Dominican Tree House Village and did an evening stretch in the yoga dome… trying not to think about our departure the following morning. Meditating on the beauty of this place, we set an intention and promised to come back some day.

Michigan Opens Doors it’s First Glamping Site

Michigan will be home to it’s first glamping eco resort.

Bella Solviva, Michigan’s comfy camping eco-resort, is being developed by two entrepreneurs Brad and Sandy Carlson on a 100 acre property in Northern Michigan.

On the Western edge of Jordan River, in Michigan, the glamping destination will feature 100 luxury sites.

The luxury sites will include, fully furnishes safari tents, tree houses, teepees, cabins, restored vintage RV’s and airliners to have access to hot showers and restroom facilities.

Bella Solviva, expects to be in development for two years and expects to have at least 36 sites available to the public this summer.

In addition, the Carlson’s hope to add another 25 sites mid summer with the remaining sites, including six hotel style suites, in 2016.

The properties amenities will include a clubhouse, laundry facilities, swimming pool, tennis as well as multi-purpose courts, ice skating for the winter, playgrounds, a recreation hall.

Also, the property will have trails for hiking, biking, horseback riding and cross country skiing.

This glamping property will be short of nothing as it also will be offering concierge service and on site massages.

Bella Solviva is set to the first glamping resort in Michigan and will set the bar high for other glamping destinations.

For more information on statstics and glamping in the United States check out, “Is Glamping Market Underserved? We Think So.”