You may have vacationed at a waterfront hotel before. But have you ever booked an overnight stay at an accomodation that’s floating on the water? 

The newly opened Grand Tiki is a thatched roof Airbnb that’s anchored in the waters of Key West, Florida and that’s reachable via a water taxi. With added luxuries like underwater soffit lighting and a 50-inch TV that tucks away in the footboard of the custom oak bed, this luxury abode builds on the success of its predecessor, the floating Tiki Suite that debuted a couple of years ago off the Florida Keys. 

The hosts liken staying in these floating bungalows to a glamping experience. You’ll want to bring your own food and drinks, just like you would camping, yet you’ll enjoy doses of luxury. (Will you choose a bed with a mattress or a hammock to host your afternoon nap?) 

These on-the-water, but off-the-grid Airbnb rentals are starting to make a splash and appear to be a culmination of emerging trends—socially distanced escapes, the allure of tiny home living, and, yes, a new glamping frontier that trades the wilderness for the water. They’re different from the floating rentals that are docked or clustered near other houseboats. These glamping-style rentals are even more serene and further out from shorelines.

Here’s a look inside the Grand Tiki:

Fueled by adventure travel and a rising interest in eco-tourism, the global glamping market was valued at $2.1 billion in 2018 and is expected to increase $4.75 billion by 2025, according to a market analysis from Grand View Research. Tents, yurts and luxe treehouses now dominate the glamping industry, but there looks to be room for on-the-water accommodations.

Another example of this reimagined houseboat experience, the Floating House in Joanópolis, Brazil is among Airbnb’s most buzz-worthy listings. The solar-power house was among the top 10 properties that garnered the most likes last year on Airbnb’s official Instagram account in 2020. A two-hour drive from São Paolo, Brazil and located on the Joanópolis dam, guests at this unique property have views of the Serra da Mantiqueira mountains. Amenities at the Airbnb include standup paddleboards and kayaks. 

As for the 2021 Grand Tiki luxury model that’s now open to guests, features include tempered peak windows, Ipe hardwood deck and flooring, an automatic-start generator charging system, French doors, a 30 gallon per day fresh water tank and an electric mini refrigerator.

Like the Tiki Suite, the nearby Grand Tiki also includes two inflatable paddleboards, two sets of snorkel gear, an integrated swim ladder, a double hammock and voice-activated lighting throughout via Amazon’s Alexa. There’s a mobile WiFi hotspot that works for browsing, but not streaming video. The rentals also come with air condition and heat, in-room showers, a Keuring coffee maker and macerating toilet. 

But perhaps the best amenity? The sunsets and nature-watching. 

In addition to the various bird species that are a regular sight, you might occasionally see dolphins, manatees, stingrays, conch and starfish. Other small fish seek shade beneath the tiki structures.

published 2022-06-13 13:56:51