The descent of man, the theorist might say, began with a descent from the trees—to stand upright and scan for predators and prey. The great American conservationist John Muir put it this way: “Going to the woods is going home, for I suppose we came from the woods originally.” Well, it’s time to go home. Herewith, Luxury Defined presents six homes at one with their surroundings, from the tropical jungles of Costa Rica to the ancient forests of the Scottish Highlands. Look out beyond the trees and behold the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone, or the powder-white ski slopes of Telluride. Or just settle back into the wooded majesty of a historic treasure on Lake Michigan. Yes, indeed, these woods are lovely, dark and deep.
Crescent H Ranch Estate
Situated on 158 acres of the famous Crescent H Ranch, this Wyoming estate is a sanctuary far from the outside world, yet close to the historic Old West town of Jackson and to the countless recreational opportunities of the Jackson Hole area. Both the Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks are merely minutes away, as are miles of private spring creeks, trout-filled ponds, forests of aspen and evergreen, and the majestic Snake River (regarded as ''the finest blue ribbon'' fishing in Jackson Hole). A total of six entitlements and 60,000 square feet provide the perfect setting for a private retreat or family compound.
Lake Forest, Illinois
Built in 1916 by American country estate architect Harrie T. Lindeberg, Wyldwoode is a Norman-style residence on 8.5 open and densely wooded acres, and is widely regarded as the most beautiful home in Lake Forest. The long driveway curves through the woods to an open courtyard and grand wrought-iron entranceway flanked by a brick serpentine wall. The three-story residence provides 13,500 interior square feet with eight bedrooms, seven full and three half bathrooms, and ornate details, such as bronze screens designed by Oscar Bach and crystal fixtures by Sherle Wagner. Wyldwoode’s glorious grounds include the east lawn, which slopes down to reveal exquisite sunrises over Lake Michigan.
Guanacasta, Costa Rica
Supremely situated amid 403 acres of privately owned jungle in a remote area of Costa Rica's lush Nicoya Peninsula, the villas on Playa Barrigona are unrivaled tropical retreats. Owned by actor-director Mel Gibson, each of the three homes nestles on a hilltop overlooking the Pacific Ocean. A secluded white-sand beach is just a short walk away, and the sights and sounds of the jungle envelop the grounds. Each villa has a generous layout, including a living room with vaulted ceilings, a full kitchen, and multiple verandas with stunning jungle and ocean vistas, as well as full air conditioning, a private pool, and barbecue areas.
Telluride Mountain Retreat
Overlooking the San Miguel River and box canyon, this enchanting mountain residence possesses a quintessential location near Telluride’s Gondola ski lift, amid a scenic landscape of aspen, spruce, and cottonwoods. The façade incorporates reclaimed hardwood and classic masonry with a "miner's smear mortar" that blends the structure with its immediate environment and architecturally links it to Telluride’s mining heritage, as do the beautiful interior touches: Telluride goldstone, reclaimed wood floors, alder doors, and Douglas fir ceilings. Strategically placed windows and an outdoor entertaining deck frame breathtaking views of the canyon, river, and Telluride’s world-class pistes.
Willis Point Estate
Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
This tranquil waterfront haven commands approximately one acre of land at the tip of Willis Point on Vancouver Island, overlooking the calm waters of Saanich Inlet. The approach to the estate winds through a section of the Gowlland Tod Provincial Park, which encompasses over 1,200 hectares and more than 15 miles of trails through evergreen forests and along the water’s edge. The custom-built residence offers 6,900 square feet of contemporary Asian-inspired interiors. Floor-to-ceiling windows offer sublime views of the water and the surrounding forest.
Set within an ancient landscape overlooking the Spey Valley, the Monadhliath and Cairngorm mountains, Glentruim House combines the authentic Scottish Highland lifestyle with luxurious modern comforts. Built in the 1840s, this historic Grade B-listed property, which includes a traditional Scottish castle and several charming cottages on 53 lawned and wooded acres, was recently refurbished from top to toe. Under-floor heating is fitted throughout, which, coupled with its roaring open fires, cozy bedrooms and living spaces makes Glentruim a beacon of warmth in even the coldest of Scottish winters.