Outdoors + Nature

Off the Grid

by Sarah Tuff


The hideout: Actually, this one's a hangout.... The Free Spirit Spheres retreat consists of two globular tree houses suspended from the branches of an old-growth rain forest.

Low-tech lowdown: They're not kidding with the "free spirit" stuff at this trippy resort. "Eve" and "Eryn" (pictured), the two spheres owner and inventor Tom Chudleigh has built so far, are open to Ewok-wannabes who'd like to literally untether themselves from the earth's constraints. Made of yellow cedar, Eve sleeps one comfortably—picture a boat's single berth, along with a small sitting area. Eryn, meanwhile, is a larger Sitka spruce orb with a double bed and a loft bed. Spiral staircases and suspension bridges lead guests up from the ground, and the yacht-style joinery is as much fun to admire as the snow-laden trees outside (Free Spirit is open year-round).

Your new "to do" list:
• Relax in the sauna and listen to the sounds of the forest
• Join a game of Frisbee golf
• Visit the Vancouver Island Paleontology Museum to see one of the best-preserved Ice Age walrus skeletons in the world

The road less traveled: Fly to Vancouver, rent a car, then board a ferry for the hour-and-a-half crossing from Horseshoe Bay to Nanaimo. Free Spirit Spheres is a 45-minute drive from Nanaimo, in Qualicum Bay.

Don't forget: A flashlight. There's a composting outhouse at the base of each sphere, so you'll have to navigate the stairs to use the facilities.

Free Spirit Spheres
Tel: 250 757 9445
Eve, $125 per night; Eryn, $175 per night

NEXT: Your own private Caribbean isle >

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Information may have changed since date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.

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