There’s something about staying in a treehouse hotel that conjures up visions of lofty childhood dreams—but better. In a treehouse hotel, you usually have air conditioning, running water and no bugs. Tennessee’s Sanctuary Treehouse Resort is about to take the treehouse experience to the next level. Not only is this the first-ever treehouse resort in the Smoky Mountains of East Tennessee, the property will be the largest of its kind in the world, with 130 treehouses set on 40 sprawling acres. Not far away is the Great Smoky National Park, America’s most-visited national park.
The resort is the brainchild of Amanda and Brian Jensen, who run the Gaitlinburg SkyCenter, a restaurant and shop at the top of a chairlift with birds’ eye views of Gatlinburg and the surrounding mountains. The couple was inspired by a treehouse that they built for their kids that had bunk beds and a zip line. “We joked about renting it out because tree houses were becoming ‘a thing,’” Amanda Jensen told Travel + Leisure.
The Jensens said they originally just wanted to build a few treehouses to rent on their own property, but when the 40-acre plot of land in Sevierville became available, they snapped it up and went about creating a fantasy resort that’s all grown-up but still preserves the land and is built around the trees and into the existing landscape. The goal: “to respect its beauty and the nature that lives there,” says Amanda Jensen.
The resort’s treehouses will have views of the Smoky Mountains. Guests will be entertained with walking trails, scavenger hunts, gatherings in an enchanted forest, live entertainment, local storytellers, an outdoor hot tub, two 18-hole golf courses and more. The rooms will be accessible only by golf cart.
The Sanctuary will have several kinds of treehouse rooms with wild features including a spiral slide, a climbing rope, a net swing, a secret ladder and a trapdoor. Clever design touches include bathroom sinks crafted out of whiskey barrels and a drink shoot that lets you send bottles from the kitchenette down to the lower porch.
The basic accommodation is the Tree Fort, which will sleep up to six guests with several beds (king-sized, queen-sized and bunk), two fireplaces (LED and wood-burning), a telescope, a shower and a deck with Adirondack chairs and a grill.
For bigger groups, there’s the Tree Fort Double, which connects two treehouses with a drawbridge. Finally, there’s the most over-the-top treehouse, the Luxe, which will have a king-size gel cooling bed, a copper clawfoot bathtub, an outdoor tub and suspended day beds.
“Here at the Sanctuary Treehouse Resort, it’s a family affair,” the couple wrote on Instagram. “Show your children your dream, but more importantly share it with them. Show them the process so that they can see that dreams do come true if you believe in them and work hard at it.”
The first phase of building is under way with the first six treehouses scheduled to be ready for visitors by summer 2022.