Preston tree houses for grownups offer Tarzan-style luxury lodging

July 2, 2011

By Christopher Huber

A rope bridge leads to the Temple of the Blue Moon, the largest treehouse at Treehouse Point. By Christopher Huber

The croaking frogs and fresh granola seemed to do it for Stephanie Cusick and Gregory Roper during their recent stay at Treehouse Point, a bed and breakfast near Issaquah. It could have been the quiet strolls through trails that ran along hundreds of feet of riverfront and acres of heavy forest, too.

The couple’s first stay at Treehouse Point — they celebrated their 18th wedding anniversary — was so refreshing and tranquil that they decided to book a summer overnight stay among the trees along Preston-Fall City Road.

“It seems like the perfect setting,” Cusick, of Seattle, said after her stay at the bed and breakfast May 17. “It’s rustic, but in a very elegant way.”

Building a dream

Treehouse Point is the manifestation of Pete Nelson’s lifelong passion for building tree houses for adults. The longtime Fall City resident, who said he never wanted to grow up, and his wife Judy opened Treehouse Point in 2008.

It features four tree houses and three conventional rooms on a four-acre site filled with lush landscaping, old-growth forest, river waterfront, and plenty of nooks and hideaways among the trees.

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Upon entering the main house, jazz music streams from the kitchen and, if you wake up at the right time, the rich aroma of Judy’s cooking wafts through the room. Guests enjoy granola, fruit and other seasonal offerings for breakfast.

On a recent morning tree house-building workshop guests enjoyed “Treehouse Egg Muffins,” made of scrambled egg, ham and chives. Judy regularly holds cooking classes.

The Nelsons tout Treehouse Point as more of a retreat, workshop and music venue. It hosts weddings and corporate retreats throughout the year. And from June to October, traveling musicians play concerts at the Pond Room, which holds 50 people (90 if the doors are opened to the patio).

Treehouse Point features a fine-art gallery of work from various local artists, too.

“Weddings are our big bread and butter,” Pete said. “It’s a really inspiring property.”

The tree houses and rooms in the main building are spaced far enough apart to provide solace for guests who need some extra-peaceful rest and relaxation. Some guests come to grieve the recent loss of a loved one, or to just get away from the city, Judy said.

“They really wanna not have TV or anything,” she said. “We try to make it private. It’s important to give people that privacy they might need.”

Modern tranquility

In addition to the tree houses, the bed and breakfast offers three rooms in the main house. Each room features custom-made cedar beds.

“We go big on beds,” Judy said.

Guests can enjoy the simplicity of sleeping in the woods — no television or Internet — with birds chirping, a river rushing and calm wind blowing. There are also a few of the comforts of home — toilet, electricity, modern structural engineering.

“People come from all over the world,” Judy said.

The Nelsons said they never intended to get into the hospitality business. They bought the property in 2006 to build big-kid tree houses and develop Pete’s Treehouse Workshop, an annual gathering of the world’s leading tree-house designers, engineers and builders. By fall 2006, Pete and fellow tree-house enthusiasts had built their first house on the property.

“He needed a place to do his craft,” Judy said as she meandered past old-growth Sitka spruce and along the Raging River. “It just kinda started to develop. It’s just one of those things that fell together so beautifully, we couldn’t say no.”

Lofty ambitions

A commercial homebuilder for more than a decade, Pete began to lose interest in long-term home-building projects and turned his attention to shorter projects, building houses 20 feet up in trees. Some, like Trillium Treehouse, sit perched atop a spiral staircase and overlook a pond covered with vibrant-green duckweed and paths that lead to the river and the Duck Blind, a new lookout perch.

Trillium House, the only two-level treehouse, overlooks the central pond at Treehouse Point. By Christopher Huber

Some projects only take five days to complete, he said, if enough people pitch in.

“We’ve learned a lot. You get a lot of energy from the trees. It’s a great feeling when you’re in the trees,” said Pete, who has written and compiled five books on tree-house design and building around the world. “The best part is to see how this inspires people. What we’ve done is we’ve followed our passion.”

Some definitely see that passion in the structures and landscape of Treehouse Point. Cusick said she and Roper will return for a stay in July. She said the four-acre Treehouse Point offers easy accessibility to trails and the Raging River. She is also interested in the yoga classes offered onsite.

If you’re an outdoor, adventurous type, “it’s a wonderful place to spend an occasion,” she said. “I think it’s a special, serene kind of atmosphere.”

Treehouse Point is an example of Pete Nelson’s ambition to be a leader in a worldwide movement toward building among the trees. Perhaps the sentiment on a collage given to him from his fellow tree-house builders best describes the feel of a stay at Treehouse Point.

“If we can’t fly with the birds, at least we can nest with them.”

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