Inside the luxury treehouse set to shake up NI staycation landscape

A new luxury forest retreat in Ulster looks set to be ready to meet the demand for staycations as restrictions continue to lift.

By Graeme Cousins
Tuesday, 15th June 2021, 5:43 pm
The exterior of one of the four lodges which are being built in a forest in the grounds of Downhill Estate near Castlerock
The exterior of one of the four lodges which are being built in a forest in the grounds of Downhill Estate near Castlerock

Work has been going on since lockdown to convert an abandoned brownfield site bordering the Ulster Way near Castlerock into four forest lodges.

The tourist accommodation, which will be known as Burrenmore Nest, is due to launch in July after the Causeway Coast and Glens Borough council granted planning permission for the conversion of the land.

The lodges, which are perched on stilts so guests can enjoy panoramic views, are set within the forest off Burrenmore Road in the historic Downhill Estate grounds near the tourist hotspots of Mussenden Temple, Benone beach and Binevenagh Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

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The view from inside one of the lodges

Each lodges has a private hot tub, king-size bed, firepit and BBQ.

Nick Maxwell, who is leading the project, said: “During construction I’ve been living in a caravan just outside the site. It’s beautiful to wake up there – the sun first comes through the forest then it sets over the lough and behind Donegal, Inishowen. It’s just a wonderful experience.”

He added: “My wife and I – this is our passion, lockdown has given us the push to do it.

“We had the vision for some time, but we were looking for the right site. We found it about this time last year, since then it’s been about developing the plan in a way that makes sense for the forest.

Nick Maxwell (with glasses) with Councillor Michelle Knight-McQuillan and Mr Maurice Bradley, MLA for East Londonderry

“We’re not transplanting a standard off-the-shelf design, it’s very much a vision from the architect and from ourselves that is all about that space and allowing guests to have a unique elevated view of the forest.”

Until now, the site was a derelict sunken water reservoir, which was decommissioned more than 30 years ago.

Nick said: “It was a shame for the area that there was this brownfield eyesore – a corrugated iron boundary and horrible concrete.

“Our vision is to turn the site into something pretty very, very special in terms of accommodation in the UK and Ireland and to really give people wonderful memories.

The construction site

We want people to have a high end experience – it could be someone’s special birthday or the girls getting together for an annual friends retreat, it could be someone looking for that romantic moment to propose – who knows.”

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