A quirky treehouse resort climbs to new heights with its fun-filled forts and majestic mountain views.
If your dream home has ever been a treehouse, the new Sanctuary Treehouse Resort in Sevierville, Tennessee likely exceeds even your most fantastical plans.
Here, fun is by design. Every treehouse at this innovative new resort incorporates interactive experiences including slides, bucket pulleys, escape hatches, secret ladders, swings, front doors with speakeasy windows, custom drink chutes to send unopened bottles and cans from the kitchen to the lower porch and several additional surprises.
Even practical elements go beyond the usual. King beds are supported by ropes with queen trundles hidden underneath. Double bunks can be cranked up to reveal a dining area.
Porches are simultaneously havens and playgrounds with swinging chairs, suspended outdoor daybeds, outdoor tubs, rope climbs, big-screen TVs and more. Decks encourage relaxation with wood-burning fireplaces, gas grills, Adirondack chairs and spectacular views.
The vibe is playful, yet every treehouse is packed with thoughtful amenities and conveniences. Edison light fixtures stylishly illuminate the interior. HVAC systems ensure year-round comfort. Kitchenettes are equipped with mini-refrigerators, coffee makers, microwaves and even signature charcuterie boards.
Bathrooms boast custom tile showers, toilets with heated seats and whiskey-barrel sinks. Beds are dressed in luxury linens. A big-screen TV and LED fireplace are visible from nearly every inch inside the treehouse. High-speed internet is standard.
Custom artwork give each unit its individual personality, often with a humorous edge that ranges from the wink-wink to brouhaha variety.
The brainchild of husband-and-wife team Amanda and Brian Jensen, the resort currently offers three different types of treehouses: Tree Fort (for up to six guests), Tree Fort Double (same as Tree Fort but with a drawbridge connecting two units to house up to 12 guests) and The Luxe (for couples yet able to accommodate up to four people).
Forts offer a king bed, queen trundle and double bunk. Luxe units ramp up comfort with a king gel cooling mattress, bidet toilet system, copper clawfoot tub, bamboo jetted tile shower, outdoor tub with privacy curtains and other upscale additions.
Located in the Smoky Mountains in Dolly Parton’s hometown, Sanctuary Treehouse Resort will be the world’s largest treehouse resort. The first seven forts opened in the spring of 2022; an additional seven units will open this fall.
“Brian and his team built the first phase, but we’ll now hire a construction company to build them more quickly while we focus on amenities,” says Amanda.
As soon as four additional units open in 2024 to reach a total of 18 units, Sanctuary Treehouse Resort will rank as the world’s largest. But its owners aren’t stopping there.
When construction is complete in 2025, a total of 130 treehouses will spread across its 40 scenic acres overlooking two 18-hole golf courses and the Little Pigeon River against a gorgeous mountain backdrop.
Rooted in Fun
The couple first built a treehouse in 2013 for their children. “They played with it for years and we put fun features there,” says Amanda. “When they quit playing with it, we joked about renting it out. We didn’t do that, but we always kicked around the idea. Forty acres near us became available and once we saw how amazing it was, we thought, ‘We gotta buy this!’ This property has been a hidden gem for far too long if you ask us.”
The scope of their treehouse resort idea quickly “took on a life of its own,” she says.
The Jensens are working with architectural firm MossCreek to bring their vision to life. Double forts have proven popular with family and friends. To accommodate even larger groups, some triple forts are planned, and a new wagon wheel layout is in the works that connects six forts circling a common central gathering space via drawbridges.
While the treehouses look as you might expect, they actually aren’t built in trees. “It’s all part of the fantasy to have the elements but remain practical,” says Amanda. “City building codes do not allow for commercial structures to be built in a tree – it’s not safe for the tree or the structure.”
Construction works with the land’s topography to leave woodlands undisturbed, and SmartBark and cedar are among the environmentally-friendly building materials.
“We want guests to have the best views, and at the same time, don’t want to litter the mountainside so it’s beautiful at night from below. The number one priority is to disturb the property as little as possible.”
Since each fort is loaded with features, Amanda says, “I haven’t heard one complaint from anyone wishing there was more to do at the resort.”
Nevertheless, property amenities beyond the fire pit are in the works. A check-in center will double as a supply store (for s’mores kits, steaks to grill and other treats) and offer parking since all guests will get a complimentary golf cart to reach their treehouse.
Guests also will be able to enjoy more than 4 miles of walking trails, a scavenger hunt, rope bridges, a slide, an enchanted forest that will light up and incorporate waterfall features, and other elements like “a gathering area with in-ground community hot springs where people can congregate,” says Amanda. “It will be a place where food trucks can congregate, live music will be staged and other fun things.”
If You Go
What: Sanctuary Treehouse Resort
Where: Sevierville, Tennessee
How Much: From $290/night; two-night minimum stay
More Info: treehouseresort.com; firstname.lastname@example.org or (423) 873-3386
By Hope S. Philbrick