HOTELS & LODGING
It's a Yurt Spurt
These days, the tent-like domes are popping up around the world, bringing comfort to the wilderness with an eye toward low-impact tourism.
BIG SUR, CALIF.
"On our honeymoon in Big Sur, we fell in love with the beautiful starry nights, the sound of the waves, and the seals barking," says Corinne Handy of Treebones Resort. She and her husband, John, bought the 10-acre property in 1988; after years of working to secure the necessary permits, they opened Treebones in 2004. The 16 yurts are wired for electricity, with private decks; some have indoor gas-burning fireplaces. Food: At night, entrées like grilled salmon and barbecued ribs are served in front of the lodge's crackling fire (from $18). Or guests can dine outside at the 60-foot redwood bar. Activities: There's a heated pool and a hot tub; trailheads for the Los Padres forest are a 10-minute drive away. The resort also arranges guided day hikes (from $99) and sea-kayaking tours (from $55). Details: 877/424-4787, treebonesresort.com, from $145, includes breakfast. Shared baths. Open year-round.
THE ARDÈCHE, FRANCE
Overlooking the Ardèche River, Canvaschic is in the Gorges de l'Ardèche national park, 90 minutes north of Avignon. British expats Ruth Lawson and her husband, Lodewijk van den Belt, started Canvaschic in 2003 in the Languedoc but moved in 2006. Four of the 14 yurts are in their own patches of woods, while the other 10, which sleep as many as four, are clustered to accommodate groups. Yurts may have traditional quilts on the bamboo beds built by Lodewijk. Food: Couples' yurts have small kitchens, while the other units share four kitchen tents equipped with fridges, stoves, and barbecues. Activities: Hiking trails pass right through Canvaschic, providing access to the river's beaches and swimming holes. Details: 011-33/4-66-24-21-81, canvaschic.com, from $166 per yurt (three-night minimum), with breakfast. Shared baths. Open April-October.
BAJA CALIFORNIA, MEXICO
Pilot and surfer Kevin Warren opened Las Animas Wilderness Retreat, on Baja's Sea of Cortés, in 2000. Accessible only by boat, the eight solar-powered yurts each have two twin beds; three family units also come with a lofted queen bed. Bathrooms have showers and compost toilets. Yurts up on a bluff have private decks with water views. Food: Meals, made with seafood caught by guests, are eaten communal-style on a waterfront deck. Activities: Necessary equipment and guides for fishing, kitesurfing, sailing, kayaking, and diving are included. Naturalists lead desert hikes and swims with sea lions. Details: 800/221-9283, bajaairventures.com, from $1,600 per person per week; includes meals, two-hour flight from San Diego to Baja, and boat transfer to resort. Open year-round.
On 40 acres in southwest England, Yurtworks is the picture of green country living. Owner Tim Hutton raises chickens and cows organically and uses the farm's trees for his yurt-building business. The two yurts are separated by more than 300 feet of woodland. The four-person one is bohemian chic, with Mongolian wall hangings; the six-person tent is decorated more simply. Both have thick futons; candle lanterns provide light. Food: Yurts have wood-burning stoves; there's also a fire pit and a barbecue in each yurt's field. Tim sells the farm's fruits, vegetables, eggs, bacon, and sausages. Activities: You can rent bikes in Wadebridge, eight miles south, and explore the coast. Details: 011-44/1208-850-670, yurtworks.co.uk, from $537 per yurt per week. Shorter stays available when booked one month in advance. Shared baths. Open April to mid-October.
Hoopoe Yurt Hotel
Hoopoe is in the foothills of the Sierra de Grazalema, surrounded by olive and cork trees. British owners Ed and Henrietta Hunt and their two kids live on-site in private yurts. Four of the seven yurts were imported from Asia, two others from England. The last one, made in Spain, doesn't have heavy linings, so light pours through. All are decorated with textiles collected on the couple's travels. Each yurt has electricity and its own bath hut next door, with a hot shower, composting toilet, and sink. Food: Henrietta cooks three-course Mediterranean meals, served at a large table under a lantern-lit pergola (from $40). Activities: After a hike, it's tempting to lounge in the hammocks under the trees and simply soak in the pool. Some nights, guests watch movies that are projected onto the side of a yurt or smoke a hookah. Details: 011-34/952-117-055, yurthotel.com, from $105 (three-night minimum), includes breakfast. Open April to mid-October.
In a pine forest along the southwestern coast, Huzur Vadisi ("peaceful valley") is focused on activities like yoga, massage, and aromatherapy. Jane Worrall, a Brit who lived in the area as a child; her brother Ian; and their partner, Tanfer Taka, built the 10 yurts with chestnut saplings. The wooden twin beds were made by Turkish craftsmen, and the quilts are from area markets. Food: Chef Sevgi uses ingredients such as the camp's olives and figs to produce local specialties. Activities: About half the season is dedicated to weeklong yoga courses. During Just Be weeks, there's no schedule. Guests swim in the pool and lounge in the kösk, a kind of tree house. Details: 011-44/197-429-8366, huzurvadisi.com, from $733 per person per week, with meals. Yoga weeks from $830. Shared baths. Open May-October.