Tourism Icon Otunba Wanle Akinboboye Releases Tourism Product No 32 – Tree Houses

Tourism Icon, Otunba Olawanle Akinboboye, while releasing ‘Tree Houses’ as his number 32 tourism product of the week, mentioned that he had made a passing reference to this week’s tourism product, in an earlier edition of this series, when he spoke about cosmopolitizing African architecture.

Akinboboye said he feels it appropriate at this point in time now, to cast a singular focus on the use of Tree Houses for tourism.

For those who dont know it, the tourism Icon, Otunba Olawanle Akinboboye revealed, The Treetops in Kenya. “It is an elaborate three-bedroom shack situated on a tree located at the edge of a watering hole in Aberdar National Park, in Kenya.

The location of this tree house provided tremendous opportunities for its occupants to safely observe the abundant wildlife for which Kenya is famous for.

Akinboboye noted that, The Treetops became famous internationally because, it was the place where the late Queen Elizabeth 11, while on a royal tour to Kenya, famously ‘went up the tree as a Princess and came down a Queen’ after her father King George VI died on February 6, 1952.

Unfortunately, the hotel, which operated for over 90 years, closed in 2021 due to COVID. However, there are rumours that it may soon reopen.

Otunba Akinboboye mentioned that the increasing popularity of ecotourism has resulted in a situation where international tourists want to visit and stay in residences that mimic the traditional homes in their host countries and which structures utilize natural materials like mud and wood.

Otunba Akinboboye noted that, in places as diverse as Indonesia and Costa Rica, there are resorts located in forested areas that offers accommodation that consists solely of treehouses built of wood and perched on trees.

He also noted that in Nigeria, our local architecture embodied a variety of residential structures made from wood that could be referred to as tree houses, even though they were not always perched on living trees. In this category, he placed wooden houses perched on wooden stilts (effectively trees). A prime example of this could be seen in Makoko, Lagos, where people live in wooden huts that are built on wooden stilts located within the Lagos Lagoon.

Akinboboye refered to a phenomena in a place called Isi ehi i Umu Igwe, Amakama in Umahia South Local Government where a hollow within the base of a living tree created 8 rooms within, which people could sleep. Currently however, this tree is not being used for tourist accommodation.

Otunba Akinboboye recalled that tree houses have been built to provide accommodation within the Okomu National Park, although it did not appear that this fact was widely publicized or that a concerted effort have been made to attract international or domestic tourists to stay in the tree houses.

He attributed this to the fact that government, which runs Nigeria’s National Parks, did not previously consider tourism as a priority sector. “Hopefully, under Nigeria’s current leadership the tourism focus is changing,” he said.

Otunba Akinboboye observed that tree houses used for tourism purposes targeted a wide range of tourism markets.

At one end of the scale are facilities like the Skybeds located at the Khwai Private Reserve in north west Botswana. These tree houses a line a local water hole frequented by elephants, lions, hyenas, and other wildlife. To keep guests connected to the wilderness, there’s no electricity and the Skybeds are illuminated by small lanterns. Guests sleep on a double bed with a feathered duvet and mosquito nets. Meals are also cooked over an open fire.

At the other end of the scale there are luxury treehouses located in such diverse places as the Grun Resort in Bali, the Hapuku Lodge and Tree Houses in New Zealand, the Playa Viva Tree house in Mexico, the Green O Tree House in Montana USA and Secret Bay Dominica Republic. The tree houses in these locations cater for guests who are used to luxurious lifestyles. Consequently their interior decor and facilities are synonymous with 5 star hotels and even include private hot tubs.

Otunba Akinboboye noted that tourism practitioners in Nigeria could offer this product at both ends of the market to tourists who are looking to stay somewhere different while experiencing Nigeria.

This in effect means that simple tree houses with basic amenities could be constructed at minimal cost and made available for budget tourists who have come to explore our flora and fauna, while luxury treehouses could be offered to discerning high net worth tourists that want to experience something different, without sacrificing luxury.

He then mentioned that, at La Campagne Tropicana Beach Resorts, luxury tree houses are a part of the residential accommodation offered to guests. The exterior of these tree houses are made of wood and the structures are either perched on a tree or on wooden stilts. Despite their seemingly basic exteriors, these tree houses have luxurious interiors with all the required modern conveniences like flushing toilets, hot and cold water showers, televisions, air conditioning and so on. Each tree house also has a private swimming pool. The decor in these tree houses is proudly African and designed to show case the continent’s sense of style.

Otunba Akinboboye emphasized that the treehouse accommodation provided by La Campagne Tropicana, is targeted at the luxury end of the tourism market and focused on merging traditional African decor with the modern amenities that are standard for tourists seeking a relaxing and luxurious break from the reality of their every day lives.

Otunba Akinboboye in concluding hoped that, by presenting this product, he could spur young tourism entrepreneurs to assist in providing international and domestic tourists with various tourism accommodation experiences in Nigeria. He noted that the more experienced tourism entrepreneurs that are available, the greater the interest in visiting Nigeria. He also noted that the growth of our tourism market would bring economic benefits to all and should therefore be encouraged.

Akinboboye added that, he hopes his 32nd product presentation has been enjoyed by all. He says that he looks forward to the next product that will be discussed in this series.

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