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Island woman opening geodesic dome accommodations in Mount Tryon

Sheila Arsenault, owner and soon-to-be operator of Treetop Haven in Mount Tryon, stands inside one of the geodesic domes she is building to house visitors this summer.
Sheila Arsenault, owner and soon-to-be operator of Treetop Haven in Mount Tryon, stands inside one of the geodesic domes she is building to house visitors this summer.

Curled up on a couch after a soak in a hot tub, a glass of wine in hand and nothing but forest and stars to see out the expansive window before you.

That’s a vision Sheila Arsenault has for guests at Treetop Haven, a new tourism business she’s developing in Mount Tryon.

The venture consists of five, fully-furnished, geodesic domes with all the amenities of a small cottage, elevated on platforms. There will also be a cleared space in the woods for weddings and an adjacent conference centre.

 “It kind of feels like a dream,” said Arsenault, standing in what will be the living room of one of her domes.

She’s a born and raised Islander, but spent more than 10 years living away, managing to visit 40 countries in that time. She drew on that experience as inspiration for her new business.

She always knew she wanted to start some kind of tourism business, she said, but it took her a while to find an idea that excited her. Her first thought was to build tree house-like cottages, but found an American company called Pacific Domes while doing her research. She was sold. Though moving an idea from your mind to physical world is not without its roadbumps.

 “Everything is a little bit different and nobody has done it before. The first time you do something it’s always hard,” she said.

That’s a vision Sheila Arsenault has for guests at Treetop Haven, a new tourism business she’s developing in Mount Tryon.

The venture consists of five, fully-furnished, geodesic domes with all the amenities of a small cottage, elevated on platforms. There will also be a cleared space in the woods for weddings and an adjacent conference centre.

 “It kind of feels like a dream,” said Arsenault, standing in what will be the living room of one of her domes.

She’s a born and raised Islander, but spent more than 10 years living away, managing to visit 40 countries in that time. She drew on that experience as inspiration for her new business.

She always knew she wanted to start some kind of tourism business, she said, but it took her a while to find an idea that excited her. Her first thought was to build tree house-like cottages, but found an American company called Pacific Domes while doing her research. She was sold. Though moving an idea from your mind to physical world is not without its roadbumps.

 “Everything is a little bit different and nobody has done it before. The first time you do something it’s always hard,” she said.

Sheila Arsenault is building five geodesic domes on her property in Mount Tryon to be rented to tourists. She is hoping to have them all completed by February.

Arsenault called Weston Rayner, of Rayner Ventures Inc., to do the contracting work and he admits to being a little taken aback when she presented him with the designs.

“It was quite the learning curve – it’s nothing like building a house. The huge decks underneath them are straightforward, but the domes are brand new to us. But with a lot of figuring we figured it out and made it happen,” said Rayner.

The project has already garnered some media attention and Arsenault said she’s been overwhelmed with support and interest from the community.

“It’s been fantastic … way better than I ever could have expected.”

Each dome will either be a one or two bedroom unit and will include one bathroom, a kitchenette and a seating area. All will be heated via electric baseboards. Some of the decks they sit on are also large enough to include an outdoor hot tub.

Two of the dome units will be able to operate 12 months a year but all can be converted if the demand is high enough.

Arsenault started construction in August and is hoping for the first two units to be completed by February. The rest of the structures, plus the conference centre, will  follow in May.

Colin.MacLean@Tc.tc

@JournalPMacLean

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