From luxury yurts in Big Sur to a remote, $2,000-a-night resort in British Columbia, take a look inside 4 resorts that put an upscale spin on the outdoors

  • The coronavirus has brought travel to a near-total halt, but some luxury outdoor getaways have a head start in providing travelers with socially distant stays.
  • We rounded up four different luxury stays across North America, including $300 yurts that open up to sweeping views of the California coastline and a treehouse resort in Ohio.
  • Be sure to consult the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines before you embark on any travel.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

The open air, forest canopy views, and private outdoor showers — this is life at a rustic treehouse resort. A king bed with a restroom and shower — this isn't a hotel, it's a tent in the Moab desert. A remote, tranquil, cabin escape in British Columbia— this is the Nimmo Bay Wilderness Resort.  

The pandemic has brought travel to a halt, but many upscale outdoor stays are seizing on this moment to remind travelers that they were already practicing social distancing, and that with a few tweaks, they're ready to receive travelers who are itching to hit the road.

Below, we've gathered four resorts throughout North America that make use of creative outdoor spaces without sacrificing any comfort.

Editor's note: As Business Insider's Alix Woodward and Ruobing Su previously reported, four factors raise your risk of catching the coronavirus: enclosed spaces, crowds, close contact with others, and difficulty social distancing. Per the CDC, traveling increases your chance of getting infected and spreading the virus.

Before embarking on any travel, be sure to consult the CDC's guidelines. Consult state or regional guidelines that may apply to your point of origin and your destination.

Revisit your childhood at a treehouse resort

Just south of Cleveland, Ohio, is a 77-acre resort that features both cabins and treehouses. The latter, according to resort owner Kevin Mooney, is the real appeal of The Mohicans.

That's because the treehouses, Mooney said, take guests right "back to their childhood."

Unpaved roads weave through the forest and to the resort's nine treehouses, which start at around $350 a night in the summer and have names like The Nest, Moonlight, Tin Shed, and Little Red. The Silver Bullet Airstream Treehouse is the newest offering, and it is exactly what it sounds like: a renovated Airstream set on a platform in the trees.

These are one-bedroom spaces with lofts, living spaces, kitchens, decks, full indoor bathrooms, and outdoor showers. 

The resort is traditionally a popular wedding party destination, but during the height of the pandemic, the resort had to close its Grand Barn Wedding & Events Center.

"This was a huge hit because it's such a big part of our business," Mooney told Business Insider.

Even so, Mooney sees The Mohicans as the "ideal location for practicing social distancing," and said the resort's cabins and treehouses were able to stay open over the past months.

"We are in a unique part of the industry that's fun and stress-free," Mooney said.

And once some restrictions were lifted during the pandemic, the resort saw an immediate surge in reservations, most of them local.

"In a time where travel and crowds are a scary prospect, we are a blessing," Mooney said.

Go off the grid in Big Sur

Treebones Resort in South Big Sur, California, sits high on the coast overlooking the Pacific Ocean just south of Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park. 

"We are a small, family-owned and run boutique eco resort," said Corinne Handy, who started Treebones with her husband, John, in 2004. The resort generates its own power and has a large organic garden to supply its garden-to-table restaurant, Wild Coast Restaurant & Sushi Bar. 

"The experience here for the guests, therefore, is personal, caring, calm, and with lots of exposure to nature and the elements, since our rooms are all tent-like structures," Handy told Business Insider.

The resort, which has a minimum two-night stay, offers a fresh take on glamping. It has luxury yurts, a large luxury tent, campsites, and two huts made of hand-woven wood art — the Human Nest and the Twig Hut, both starting at $215 a night.

Yurts start from $320 a night, have plush beds (queen and king depending on the view), redwood decks with Adirondack chairs, and a sink vanity. Campsites start at $95 per night.

The resort's solar-powered Autonomous Tent (from $595 per night), which is built using a fabric stretched over metal ribs, is shaped like a cocoon and faces the ocean. Secluded at the resort's edge, it has its own private deck, fire pit, and 500 square feet of living space, which includes an en suite bathroom, a king size bed, gas fireplace, and leather lounging chairs. 

All guests have complimentary grab-and-go breakfast, access to the use of pool, hot tub, showers, and yoga classes and massage reservations.  

The resort closed in mid-March as the coronavirus spread and reopened on June 14. During that time, the 20 employees who live on the property stayed, quarantined, and used the time to hike and explore. When they reopened, they made changes to meet the new reality, like implementing extra cleaning standards, requiring masks, and introducing social distancing and limitations on hot tub use.

Handy sees Treebones as being suited for the pandemic. 

"Definitely off grid," she told Business Insider. "Remote, glamping-type venues promote a lot of outdoor hobbies and activities." Their guests, she said, are flocking back. This, said Handy, "signifies how much humans need these touch points with nature and solitude off the beaten path."

Take glamping to the next level in a national park

The luxury glamping resorts of Under Canvas bring travelers into the heart of some of America's most stunning national parks — with all the comforts of a hotel.

The company has private outdoor escapes in seven locations: Great Smoky Mountains (Tennessee), Zion (Utah), Arches (Utah), the Grand Canyon (Arizona), Yellowstone (Wyoming), Mount Rushmore (South Dakota), and Glacier (Montana). 

Their white and tan canvas tents are arranged to fit the landscape and view, be that a forest or a desert. They are also angled to provide privacy, and connected by footpaths and roads. They do not have air-conditioning, but they do include solar-powered fans and misting systems. There is also a fire pit, BBQ, and lobby or communal tent, which is near the entrance.

Summer rates vary by location. The safari tent, which starts around $190, shares community restrooms and showers.

Luxury suite tents, with rates starting in the $400s, come with private decks, king-sized beds, and quality linens. The en suite bathrooms are equipped with toilets, pull-chain showers, and a stove. The Stargazer tent, which goes for around $400 a night, also includes a viewing window above the bed. To accommodate families, some tents include an adjacent hive or a safari tent with twin beds.

The pandemic has led to some operational changes within the company.

Matt Gaghen, chief executive officer of Under Canvas, told Business Insider that typically, all camps are seasonal, with varying dates of operation from spring through early winter.

This year, only two camps — Moab and Zion — had been able to open until they were temporarily closed back down in March, when the pandemic started to peak in the US. Opening dates for the remaining five camps were pushed back.

With enhanced cleaning, check-in kiosks, and limited use of its lobby tent, Gaghen sees Under Canvas as "supremely positioned" for domestic travelers looking to minimize exposure to the coronavirus.

"Spatial distancing has been synonymous with the Under Canvas experience long before travelers began to seek it out as a result of COVID-19," said Gaghen.

Get away from it all at a remote resort that can only be accessed by helicopter, plane, or boat

In the Great Bear Rainforest of British Columbia, a husband and wife team runs a remote, all-inclusive resort.

The appeal of Nimmo Bay Wilderness Resort, per Beck Murray, director of the resort's operations, finance, and people, lies in its dual offerings of adventure and stillness.

"Part of what makes Nimmo Bay special is our offering of exclusive, personalized excursions, where we explore the endless coastline and vast, relatively unpopulated rainforest," said Murray. The resort's excursions capitalize on its settings; guests can go hiking, bear and wildlife viewing, and embark on heli-adventures, to name a few.

The remote, all-inclusive resort is only accessible by helicopter, plane, or boat, and a stay does not come cheap: Standard summer rates are $1,995 per person, per day. The resort hosts between 18 and 24 guests at max capacity. Accommodations consist of private cabins.

This year was to be their biggest year yet.

Murray said a new lodge arrived into Nimmo Bay on March 24. Instead of having the planned crew of 25 people to receive it, however, "the lodge arrived to a crew of three, plus myself, husband, and two young girls, and there it sat for about six weeks."

The resort is still planning to open in early July to a primarily, hyper-local clientele. 

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