To shine a light on Canada’s most incredible weekend destinations, we partnered with Chevrolet to create the Blazer Index, an exclusive lineup of our favourite luxury experiences. The Free Spirit Spheres are just one of these essential excursions for when you’ve regained a sense of freedom in your life and you’re ready to explore the absolute best our country has to offer.
Looking for a weekend excursion that will leave you feeling well rested and connected to nature? Along the east coast of Vancouver Island, just a short drive north of Nanaimo along scenic Highway 19, you will find one of the world’s most spellbinding hotels, where you can indulge your childhood dreams of living in the treetops.
Free Spirit Spheres offers an exceptional way to experience the unparalleled beauty of Canada’s coastal rainforest: from the comfort of your own enchanting, spherical tree house. The popular adults-only hotel—which is open almost year-round and features just three secluded, custom-built spheres—attracts visitors from around the globe to this beautiful corner of Qualicum Beach, B.C.
“It’s a rainforest experience, and a lot of the people that come here are tree house aficionados,” says Tom Chudleigh, the master craftsman and creative director who created the one-of-a-kind structures. “And spheres are really unique things, too. Most people have never been in a sphere; because, let’s face it, where are you going to find one? It’s really rich with symbolism.”
Chudleigh, who trained as a carpenter, conceived and handcrafted the first spherical tree house in the mid-‘90s, building and fashioning its weather-proof Sitka spruce shell and well-appointed, yacht-inspired interior over several years before suspending it in a grove of trees in 1998. Since then, he’s refined the building and design process with each subsequent sphere, switching over to fibreglass shells for his most recent creations to increase efficiency and improve durability.
Free Spirit Spheres’ whimsical, all-season orbs—named Eyrn, Melody, and Luna, and each 3.2 metres in diameter—are suspended in the tree canopy using a series of heavy-duty ropes and accessed by wooden spiral staircases and rope bridges. Electrically heated, the cozy and multi-functional interiors also offer thoughtful modern conveniences, such as adjustable lighting, Wi-Fi, and built-in speakers.
The luxurious spaces are a highlight, but the main draw of the hotel—whether you’re settling in for a romantic weekend for two or using the space as a stylish home base for other Vancouver Island adventures—is the unique opportunity to enjoy the magic of a tree house first-hand, and witness the details and sounds of the rainforest canopy from a new, elevated perspective. After all, it’s not every day that you can enjoy your morning coffee in the treetops, without even getting out of bed.
At Free Spirit Spheres, nature’s impact and beauty is never far from sight or out of mind. The spheres sway gently with the wind, and there are five windows in each orb, including a skylight, ensuring maximum light and a variety of viewpoints for observing forest creatures, trees, and skies at your leisure.
And, of course, time well spent in a rainforest tree house also offers plenty of room for reflection and introspection. “The spheres are tethered to the forest,” says Chudleigh. “You can step outside to look at this web of rope that connects them to the trees, and it underlines our connectedness to the environment we live in all the time.”