Travel

Florida Travel: A private island, a dude ranch, a treehouse and more

Your own private island. Photo: glampinghub.com
Luxury Living Tampa Bay

What could be better than escaping to an island resort solely occupied by you and a handpicked handful of houseguests? Or enjoying the high life from a posh treehouse perch? How about a floating chapel? Or a climate-controlled tent at a dude ranch? Out-there accommodations like those can be yours right here in Florida, and can be a welcome alternative to high-rise hotels crowded with conventioneers.

Granted, going off the hotel grid may mean turning away from turndown service and hoisting luggage without the help of a valet. But what you’ll get in return is a genuine, not generic, guest experience courtesy of helpful, hands-on hosts.

Those are among the attractions for the happy campers who have booked out-of-the-box overnight stays with GlampingHub.com, a leading global online booking platform for unique outdoor accommodations. Rentals range from cave dwellings and log cabins to tiny houses and train cars.

Glamping, a blend of the words glamorous and camping, is a type of travel that combines elements of a more nature-oriented experience with home-like comforts. It’s quickly gaining popularity from travelers seeking exceptional experiences. Research reported by Arizton Advisory and Intelligence reveals “the glamping market in the U.S. is projected to reach a revenue of about $1 billion by 2024.” Among the factors fueling that growth is the increase in staycations and a growing demand for green travel choices.

Here are some select glamping adventures available in the Sunshine State.

Island Escape

If the idea of landing on an island and living in the lap of luxury is appealing, then consider renting a private offshore oasis near Marathon. A mere quarter-mile from shore will feel much farther away in this idyllic setting surrounded by sand, surf and sunshine.

Guests are whisked to their beachfront by boat and delivered to a private dock where they can offload all of the provisions, sun protection and personal items required for their reserved stay.

Constructed on top of a coral reef and bordered by its own moat, this luxurious living space includes an inviting pool, a first- and second-floor covered deck that wraps around the house. a spacious, open floor plan featuring lots of natural light and even a fireplace. The three-bedroom, two-bath home can comfortably house up to eight guests.

“How many people can say they have rented an island? What a fantastic vacation for our family! The island and the landscape is incredible. At times it felt like we had a resort all to ourselves. The sea life alone was amazing and a valuable education for our children,” according to guest comments posted to the online site.

Dude!

Tall tents constructed on raised flooring and furnished with real beds, boasting climate-controlled quarters and outfitted with a private bathroom, complete with shower, provide enough not-so-roughing-it amenities to pamper any non-camper.

Located in Lake Wales about an hour’s drive south of Orlando, the Westgate River Ranch Resort & Rodeo ranks as the largest dude ranch east of the Mississippi. Saturday night rodeos, horseback and swamp buggy rides, archery, horseshoes, trap and skeet shooting and fishing are just a few of the ways to live it up like a cowboy.

The 1,700-acre site is bordered by about 400,000 acres of state and federally protected wetlands. Fortunately the grounds include lots of food and beverage options, including the Westgate Smokehouse Grill, River Ranch Saloon, Dinner Hayride, and Deli at the General Store.

Heavenly Houseboat

How does a soul-soothing, righteously relaxing float aboard a houseboat sound? Soak in lovely waterfront views of the Manatee River while moored at a marina and enjoying the ambience of a former chapel.

One of two such water-buoyant buildings built in 2004, the original chapel’s capacity was 110. The stained-glass windows remain, but ceilings were raised to a height of 19 feet and the interior converted to offer comfortable quarters for up to four guests. Two bedrooms boast queen-sized beds, plus there are two full bathrooms, each with its own shower.

Guests are within easy driving distance of Sarasota, where they can avail themselves of acclaimed restaurants, art museums and beautiful beaches. The marina also welcomes houseguests to enjoy its swimming pool, workout facility and jacuzzi. An on-board kitchen and barbecue grill located on the deck make it convenient to whip up a gourmet feast or a casual cookout.

Take a Bough

Elevate where you stay by bunking down in this modern treehouse. Tree-climbing skills are not necessary, thanks to a flight of wooden stairs winding from the ground up to a split-level residence.

This is no barebones fort, but a delightful dwelling featuring all of the amenities of a modern hotel while nicely nestled within a striking stand of trees. Enjoy the privacy of this bird’s-eye vantage point, from which you can easily explore Naples’ signature scenic spots, such as Vanderbilt Beach and Delnor-Wiggins Pass State Park.

The two bedrooms and sofa bed provide ample accommodations for up to six guests. A covered deck offers lovely views of the surroundings, and a well-equipped kitchen makes mealtime a breeze among the trees.

For further details, go to glampinghub.com.

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