Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Charleston To Sweden--An Extraordinary Hotel That Hangs With The Trees

The tree is by far the biggest, tallest and most prolific of the living things with whom we share this beautiful planet. They have been venerated by ancient cultures and protected by modern laws--Summerville, SC adopted the motto "Sacra Pinus Esto"--"The Pine is Sacred."

The lungs of the earth, trees pull carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and return oxygen. They fuel the fires that keep us warm on frigid days, they provide the products we use to shelter our families, and are the inspiration of many poems.

Right here in our beloved Lowcountry, Angel Oak on John's Island is reportedly the oldest living thing east of the Rockies. Coming in at 1,500 years, it is not the tallest or the oldest, but its branches spread out over the landscape some 89 feet with a trunk circumference of 25.5 feet. Unknown to many Lowcountry residents, in the middle of Runnymede Plantation on the Ashley stands an oak tree with a circumference of 29 feet. Simply called the Oak, it is about 1,000 years old.

The biggest tree in the world is a giant sequoia named after a Civil War leader, "General Sherman." Located in Sequoia National Park in Tulare County, CA, it has a girth of 102.6 feet at ground level. The world's tallest tree is a coast redwood located in Redwood National Park, California. It is named "Hyperion," after a person in Greek mythology, and stands no less than 379.7 feet tall.

The world's oldest non-clonal tree is a pine tree located in the White Mountains of Inyo County in eastern California. In 2014, it turned 4,845 years old. It is fittingly named after a Biblical figure of longevity, Methuselah. The world's oldest clonal tree is a mere 16 feet tall and believed to be 9,550 years ancient. It is a Norway Spruce located on the Fulufjället Mountain of Dalarna province in Sweden.

Once in awhile, I write about places to see and things to do at destinations other than Charleston and Sweden, the location of the aforementioned oldest tree, is home to an extraordinary amenity that leaps out of the box of conventionalism.

Sweden is a country with long, rugged coastlines, 95,700 lakes, deep forests, rolling hills, majestic mountains, hundreds of unspoiled islands, and summer houses. With a reputation for cold winters, the climate can be much milder than you might expect because of a warm Gulf Stream. The landscape is dotted with small villages and Harads is one of them--a village of 600 featuring a restaurant, shop and guest house. From there, it is just a five-minute stroll through the beautiful Swedish landscape to five treerooms with a fantastic view of the Lule River valley, miles of forest and the powerful river. It is aptly called the Tree Hotel and was inspired by the film "The Tree Lover" by Jonas Selberg Augustsen.

The Birds Nest
On arrival, you check in at Britta’s pensionat where breakfast, lunch and dinner are served Tree Hotel guests. A buffet breakfast is always included in the room price, as are all meals in the package deals. Britta’s pensionat has an authentic 1930-50’s setting and offers a restaurant, bar, sauna and relaxation area, TV, and internet. The treerooms do not have TV and internet. Focus is on nature.

The Mirrorcube
The list of activities is long and include a guided tour of the hotel, walking tour of Harads, Tree Sauna, trekking the Nordic flora and fauna of Storklints, mountain biking, kayaking the historic Lule river, tour by horse, midnight riding under the Northern Lights, fishing the beautiful Bodträsk River, and riding a zipline.

Treeroom rates: from 4400 SEK=$677.44 US to 4600 SEK=$698.09 US for two or 3300=$500.80 US for one. Extra adult: 850 SEK=$128.31 US and extra child: 450 SEK=$67.93 US. Rates may have changed. The Dragonfly rates are 7200 SEK=$1086.86 US 2 to 4 persons--6800 SEK=$1026.48 US in the summer season July-August.

View from the Blue Cone
It is a long trip from Charleston to the beautiful land of Sweden. The Tree Hotel is a once in a lifetime experience of the extraordinary kind. It is a place where you can forget about the time constraints of everyday life, enjoy the serenity of unspoiled nature, and rejuvenate in a sophisticated yet familiar environment. A place where you can become one with the oldest of our planet's inhabitants.

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