Rhine-Sieg district It wasn’t the original plan, but a treehouse at the edge of the forest has become a popular overnight accommodation. A couple started out by putting a few boards in the branches has since transformed the place into a cozy little getaway.
The rustling of leaves occasionally breaks the silence, otherwise there is a relaxed peace and quiet above the cozy spot at the edge of the forest of Windeck-Schladern. Thomas Palm and Irmelin Slomann once built this place for their children, high up in the branches of their old Norway maple. "This was the tree our daughter and son climbed", says the pianist, who has lived with his family in Windeck for about 20 years. It started with a few boards in the branches - in the meantime a treehouse including toilet and bathtub has grown around the thick trunk. Meanwhile, the Palm family rarely have a chance to enjoy the view of Windeck Castle and the setting sun from the terrace of their tree house. It has become a popular holiday rental - and is fully booked until the end of the year.
"We didn't even think about that at first," says Palm. The treehouse, also a childhood dream of his wife, was originally intended to be for the family alone. About ten years ago, they started to build out and furnish the treehouse. Palm shows a book that instructed the builders. "Build your own tree houses," it says, and reveals what treehouse builders need to pay attention to. "Above all, my wife went to work with great enthusiasm, respect for nature and a great love for detail," says the musician. It took less than half a year to build.
Incidentally, the building does not harm the maple. It continues to grow unhindered, both in height and width. The trunk now has a circumference of more than five meters. "We are constantly adapting the house," says Thomas Palm, pointing to neoprene-sealed gaps in the roof. A branch has now reached a roof beam from which it was originally ten centimeters away. "We'll have to think of something soon," says the musician. A tree surveyor also confirms that the maple is doing well. Once a year he inspects the more than 70-year-old tree.
The step from a purely private abode to a holiday rental took place rather coincidentally. Hikers on the Natursteig Sieg discovered the Palm treehouse in autumn of 2017 and spontaneously asked if they could stay overnight there. "The idea of having guests on our property seemed strange to me at first," admits Thomas Palm. For him, his home is the epitome of peace and seclusion. Nevertheless, the family expanded the treehouse to include a bathroom with a wooden bathtub and has been offering it for rent since November of 2017. Nowadays it is normal for Palm to welcome new guests. Like the young couple from Gelsenkirchen, for example, who wanted to stay for two nights. "I discovered the tree house on the internet, and I liked it immediately," says the young woman. So much that she gave her boyfriend the overnight stay as a birthday present.
The tree house is popular, attracting guests from all over Germany, but also from further away. "We've had visitors from Hong Kong and Texas," says Thomas Palm. The holiday home bears the seal "Quality host Sieg". Palm is pleased about the support from the local administrative and political authorities. Last autumn, the council unanimously voted to change the land use plan for the property on which the tree house stands. An agricultural area is to be turned into a green area with the purpose of "environmental education and experience of nature". In this way, the municipality is securing the future of the treehouse and shepherd's carriage, which the Palms also offer for holiday guests.
Visitors appreciate the peace and quiet in the midst of nature, as the many entries in the full guestbook testify. They value what the Palm family has created from putting their heart and soul into it. Two sofa beds offer space for up to four guests - up in the treehouse at three meters. There is a possibility for cooking, a big tree disc as a table and a fireplace for cold winter evenings. The water comes from their own well, the electricity from the photovoltaic system. A bonus is the rustling of the wind in the leaves and the crackling of the wood.
"All sorts of different people come to us," says Thomas Palm. From the 75-year-old woman who wants to enjoy some time on her own, to families and couples. "We have good access in terms of transport," says Palm, looking out over the nearby Windeck-Schladern train station. The train takes visitors from Cologne to Windeck in 40 minutes. And there is a lot to discover in nature around the tree house. "We didn't expect our idea to be so successful," says Palm. The weekends are fully booked until October 2021. For the young couple from Gelsenkirchen it is already certain that they will come back - then as a married couple, as they told Thomas Palm shortly before their departure. The marriage proposal was made in the tree house.
(Orig. text: Nadine Quandt;Translation: ck)