Electronic Thesis/Dissertation


Vantage Point Lodges: A Sustainable Treehouse Resort Open Access

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Vantage Point Lodges:A Sustainable Treehouse ResortAccording to the International Ecotourism Society, ecotourism is responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and improves the wellbeing of local people, as well as being a form of tourism that ecologically conscious travelers find appealing. It typically involves travel to destinations where flora, fauna, and cultural heritage are the primary attractions, and where nature is respected and allowed to flourish. Ecotourism is conceptual - an experience that can enrich the lives of those who delve into its mission and into understanding the surroundings and environment around them. It gives insight into the impact that we as human beings have, as well as a greater understanding and appreciation of our own natural habitats. The promotion of recycling, energy efficiency, and water conservation are integral parts of ecotourism. Nestled near the base of the Canadian Rockies, Vantage Point is located on an acre near the coast of Lake Louise in Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada. The resort is built amongst large Douglas firs, aspens, birches, spruce and evergreen trees, and in an attempt to create harmony with its surroundings seeks to place as little impact as possible on the trees upon and around which it perches. Unique building techniques, cutting-edge construction methods, and reclaimed and sustainable materials are some of the benefits that Vantage Point offers adventure travelers and nature lovers. The cool climate of Banff National Park contributes to making Vantage Point a seasonal resort, open mid-June to mid-September. Access to the park is available via the Trans Canada highway as well as other smaller paved roads, while access to the resort itself is more limited with options on foot and on horseback. The resort offers adventurous amenities like hiking, wildlife viewing, marine life observation, and snowshoeing in backcountry areas in early summer. There is a reception and hotel services building, storage areas, and twelve tree house lodges sprinkled throughout the acre-sized site. The units are distanced from each other in a fashion that allows privacy and seclusion, while providing access to others for a sense of safety and security.Vantage Point Lodges is a tree house hotel that offers visitors an unusual perspective, not only literally, while being elevated above the ground and safely suspended in trees, but also figuratively, as it provides an escape from "normal life" and allows a temporary break from day to day reality. It is a place that has been crafted with care for the environment, while still providing a comfortable and rustic retreat; a place that fills adults with childlike adventure while climbing up to bed or zip-lining down for dinner. Vantage Point is a place where nature and built structure interact with grace and ease, and meld together creating unique dwellings that provide respite for those who choose to stay. The resort will make attempts on every level to minimize impacts on the environment, from organic toiletries and reclaimed building materials, to water conservation and solar- and/or wind-powered electricity. Through interviews with experts in tree house building and engineering, such as Pete Nelson, renowned tree house architect and author of four books on the topic, research on alternative energy options for tourism in dense forest locations, tree typology, construction methods, travel expert perspectives, tourism articles, and overviews of basic tree house history, Vantage Point is one of a kind in its region bringing tourists from every geographic location imaginable who desire a luxury vacation at a place where eco-friendly concepts and actions go hand in hand. The overall purpose of Vantage Point Lodges is to give people who are looking for adventure, nature, peace, and perspective a beautiful vacation destination different from all they have seen. People are more aware of their environment and want to feel like they are making a positive contribution rather than a negative impact on their surroundings, and it is the purpose of this thesis to identify how to do that. There is a way to combine rustic elegance with eco-friendly practices, to build a natural niche for adventurous travelers who choose to walk in the leaves and look out from the treetops while making minimal environmental.

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