Bocas del Toro

Chapter 16: Creating a Luxury Treehouse with a Sense of Wonder

Theme Song: “Stairway to Heaven,”  Led Zeplin

When I was a kid, I loved to daydream about building the ultimate treehouse. I would bet there are many others like me. Disney thought so when they built the Swiss Family Robinson treehouse at Disney World. Unfortunately, my dreams were never realized – until now.

Swiss Family House – Disney’s Magic Kingdom

Our plan from the beginning was to build a private island resort in Bocas Del Toro, Panama that is unique to the world. It is easy to say, but the world is a big place. Pinterest is chocked full of inspirational ideas but piggybacking on an existing idea just was not good enough. So, we came up with our own idea of building a sandy beach on stilts over the water. It is currently under construction and as far as we know it is the first in the world. We will not be the first resort in the world to offer treehouse lodging, but we are determined to make our luxury treehouse guest experience out of this world.

Confession time – we combed the internet high and low, including Pinterest, to find a treehouse design. If you are still a kid at heart, you might want to do the same. There are some spectacular treehouses out there. We did find a treehouse lodge in Thailand that had much of what we were looking for (see the picture below.) Using it as our model we set to work with architects to design our own version. After three architects and several drawings we were back to square one. The treehouse drawings were beautiful, but not unique to the world.

Treehouse Villas Koh Yao 5-Star Resort - Thailand

A few months went by until a friend named Dhamitha emailed me a TED Talk by Elora Hardy from IBUKU entitled,  “Magical Houses, Made of Bamboo”. The first time I viewed the TED Talk I knew immediately that I wanted Elora Hardy to design our treehouses. Her designs are stunning and unlike anything I have ever seen. I reached out to IBUKU, located in Bali, Indonesia the next day and after about a month of qualifying our project we were honored with Elora taking it on personally.

For the past six months we experienced a design process that is beyond anything we could have imagined. The care, passion, and details that Elora and every member of her team have put into the creative process is mind boggling. For example, they studied the wind direction, light changes from morning until evening, and view potential for optimal placement of the treehouses. The treehouses are being designed using innovative approaches to natural materials throughout which provides our guests with a connection to nature. IBUKU’s overall goal is to create a sense of wonder. 

Sun Path and Wind Study

The illustrated pictures below provide a glimpse of the Bocas del Toro Treehouse design in IBUKU’s own words.

Ground Floor

Welcoming Nature and ArchitectureA pair of Balinese handcrafted hanging chairs are suspended over the private garden. Here, we can sit in the embrace of Bali bamboo hanging chair, floating over nature, looking out into the mangrove preservation.

First Floor

Bedroom Enclosure – We step into the bedroom, feeling our feet leave the rough wood for the smooth bamboo floors, opposite a canabrava ceiling. The view outside surrounds the room, and when all the windows are open, we become part of the view, standing at the railing. – IBUKU

As we step outside to the jungle shower, a sliver of roof reaches out from the house to shelter us. The familiar feeling of the rough timber warms our feet while the friendly sight of dancing curves entices them toward the bath. The curving screen gives privacy and allows for a view in the shower. In the tub, a small porthole pivots open to peek out into the landscape below.

Second Floor

Living Room – At the top of the stairs, the high ceilings raise our spirits. Bamboo poles soar overhead, crisscrossing and sheltering the room. The texture underfoot changes in this space, where outside and inside bleed together and blend to a wonderful experience. We feel connected with nature, surrounded by wood textures and bamboo furnishings. The experience is nourishing to the mind and soul. – IBUKU

Bocas del Toro Treehouse

Bocas del Toro Treehouse

We are thrilled with the treehouse designs, but much of the hard work lies ahead. Bamboo and hardwoods that cannot be sourced in Panama will be imported from South America, Costa Rica, and Indonesia. Most of the custom furniture has been recommended by IBUKU and is being built at Bamboo Pure in Bali. Once the designs are completed and the materials have arrived it will take several months to build our first treehouse.

One of Our Chairs for the Treehouse Being Built at Bamboo Pure

One last confession – I have withheld some of the best treehouse design features so that you will have many surprises to look forward to. The first two treehouses will be completed during April 2022.

What interesting features would you add to a treehouse? Do you have a favorite treehouse memory as a kid?

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10 Responses

  1. So excited to see the progress Dan! I can’t wait to see it all in person- hopefully sooner than later!

  2. Hi Shari,

    Thank you for your interest in the treehouses.

    The first two treehouses will be completed by July 1. Originally they were planned for April 1, but they have been taking much longer to build than anticipated. You will find the rates at https://bocasbali.com/rates/.

    Dan

  3. My husband I and spend our LLLOONNNGGGG overdue honeymoon at Nayara Bocas Bali. We vacationed in the villa with the private pool. Absolute heaven! At that time, the first tree house was nearly finished. The A-Team Bocas Bali staff arranged for me to see the tree house. There are no words of weight that can describe the feeling of the treehouse. We have booked a return trip to Bocas Bali–this time we will stay in the second tree house. I’m so looking forward to this magical getaway!

  4. Hi Dan,
    I read your blog and gotta say it seems like you nailed our dream vacation. After getting all excited about your place, dreamily looking at all the pics and starting the booking process we bumped into an Issue that seems poised to hamper our plans. Eerily similar to the fictional Tiffany guest your wrote about.
    Our baby. We just realized your place doesn’t allow babies which is a pity cuz A) babies are cute B) babies need parents to recharge and energize in Bocas Bali in order to give them the best upbringing possible. C) Babies add a special charm wherever they go which means your place can only benefit.
    And that’s my pitch. I bring my baby, you allow her in and benefit from her charm. Win-win situation. 😀
    Looking forward to hearing back from you.
    Gail

  5. Hi Gwendolyn,

    Thank you for your kind words.

    I am so happy that you and your husband enjoyed Nayara Bocas Del Toro for your honeymoon! And that we will have the honor of welcoming you back to stay in a teehouse. The treehouses are my favorite place to stay when I am at Nayara Bocas Del Toro. I think you will love it!

    Dan

  6. Hi Gail,

    I love babies! We just had our fifth grandaughter last week and there is nothing better than holding her and watching her facial expressions as she sleeps.

    Your A, B, and C are creative and it breaks my heart to say no. As you know our resort is designated for adults only (16+), so when our guests book, they are often choosing Nayara Bocas Del Toro because they are looking for quiet adult time. Most guests would love having a baby at the resort (including me), but their might be one or two that would get upset if they heard a baby crying.

    I hope you will still consider us in the future.

    Dan

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Rates are based on double or single occupancy (there is no triple or quadruple occupancy) 

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Taxes are not included unless noted (10% for the room and 7% for the food and drinks)

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Minimum stay 4 nights from December 20th through January 2nd 

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Adults only property, guests must be at least 16 years old

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Cancellation charges apply for reservations cancelled within 30 days of arrival, and within 60 days of arrival for reservations between Dec. 20th and Jan. 2nd

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National Panamanian legislation prohibits smoking in common areas, restaurants, and bars. For the comfort of the guests, the hotel has a non-smoking policy in the common areas, including the swimming pool, bars, and restaurants. Guests who smoke should consult Reception upon arrival for the designated areas to do so. You can smoke on the terrace of each Villa. There is a $200 charge for room recovery for people who do not comply with this policy.

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