Think small: 8 tiny house hotels with big personalities

High up on a bluff in Appalachia, guests soak in a hot tub while watching the sun dip into the green valley below. Hang gliders soar through the surrounding skies, while trees rustle their way into evening.

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Susan Shain (CNN)
(CNN) — High up on a bluff in Appalachia, guests soak in a hot tub while watching the sun dip into the green valley below. Hang gliders soar through the surrounding skies, while trees rustle their way into evening.

Guests, however, don't only come to this tranquil resort for the views. They also come for a peek into a way of living that's simple, enchanting and very small.

At Live a Little Chatt, there aren't any hotel rooms. Instead, there are three custom-built tiny houses from which guests may choose to stay.

Joe Curro and Brian Morris opened the resort outside Chattanooga, Tennessee in late 2016. They were both on a mission to live "more deliberately" and spread the gospel of tiny living.

"We just want to give people a place to go and enjoy a sunset, enjoy a sunrise, enjoy a mountain," says Curro. "There's a childlike wonder that comes over you when you're in a tiny house.

"Put that on the side of a mountain with an incredible view, and it's kind of magical."

They're not the only ones who feel that way. Following the nation's growing fascination with simple living, tiny house hotels are popping up in all corners of the USA. Here are eight to check out as you travel:

1. Live a Little Chatt, Rising Fawn, Georgia

This mountainside property has three -- soon to be four -- tiny houses, all under 300 square feet and built or finished by Morris, Curro or a company called Tennessee Tiny Homes.

They're intricate and elegant, inside and out: Shangri-Little has dark woods, a rooftop porch and hidden humidor, while Old Blue Chair is farmhouse chic, with whitewashed walls and an under-the-stairs reading nook. With at least nine windows each, Curro said the aim is to "feel like you're outside."

Like everything else at the property, the placement of the hot tub and fire pit are purposeful: the former on a cliff, so it feels like an infinity pool, and the latter on common grounds, so "it forces people to socialize," Curro says.

Though guests certainly come for the tiny home experience, the other main attraction is the great outdoors: Cloudland Canyon State Park's 64 miles of hiking trails are just down the road, as is Lookout Mountain Hang Gliding, where intrepid explorers can strap onto an instructor and fly.

Live a Little Chatt, 5867 Scenic Highway, Rising Fawn, GA 30738; +1 423 708-4316

2. Canoe Bay ESCAPE Village, Rice Lake, Wisconsin

In this case, the chicken -- or the house -- came before the resort. Dan Dobrowolski founded ESCAPE Homes in 2014 to build and sell tiny homes. In January 2018, he opened a resort to showcase his creations.

ESCAPE Village, which calls itself the "first tiny home village in the Midwest," sits next to another resort owned by Dobrowolski. This new resort, he said, "blends the tiny architectural design gems that reflect ESCAPE Homes" with the "tranquil, rustic, natural setting" of Canoe Bay.

The four tiny homes sit on 100 acres of forests, lakes and trails. Ranging from 344 to 400 square feet, they are beautifully detailed with cedar siding, pine tongue-and-groove walls and screened-in porches. But what really sets them apart are their "window walls," which invite an abundance of natural light inside.

If you love the house, you can buy it -- and then either take it with you or leave it on the property to earn rental income.

Canoe Bay ESCAPE Village, 1740 20 1/2 St, Rice Lake, WI 54868; +1 844 696-3722

3. Tuxbury Tiny House Village, South Hampton, New Hampshire

Located an hour north of Boston, this brand-new tiny house village opened in April 2018.

Built by Tumbleweed Tiny House Company, each house ranges from 180 to 275 square feet and accommodates two to six guests. Though the details vary, most of the units share a similar aesthetic: knotty pine paneling, butcher block counters and geometric accents.

The village is open from mid-April through mid-October, with most activities centering around the outdoors. Guests can partake in swimming, basketball, softball, volleyball, fishing and horseshoes on-site. Further afield are apple orchards, farms, beaches, shopping and restaurants.

"Each Tuxbury tiny house has its own individual personality," said Pat Zamora, vice president of marketing for Petite Retreats, the parent company that has four tiny house resorts throughout the states. "Visitors are able to take away something distinctive from a typical camping trip."

Tuxbury Pond RV Resort, 88 Whitehall Road, South Hampton, NH 03827; +1 877 570-2267

4. WeeCasa, Lyons, Colorado

Without a hint of irony, this property lays claim to its position as the "world's largest tiny home resort." Open since 2015, it features 22 homes that vary in size -- each is between 135 and 365 square feet -- and personality.

They include the Hobbit House, a whimsical number with a round, hobbit-sized door; the Lilypad, featuring copper sinks and bohemian fabrics; and the Pequod, which has two cozy sleeping lofts attached by a steel-plexiglass catwalk.

The resort's location in Lyons, the "Double Gateway to the Rockies," offers excellent opportunities for hiking, rock climbing and mountain biking. WeeCasa guests can also enjoy swimming, kayaking and tubing in the neighboring river, or yard games and rental bikes provided by the property.

"We started WeeCasa to bring people to our beautiful town," said company "WeeEO" Kenyon Waugh, "And to challenge people's ideas of what they have and what they need."

WeeCasa, 501 W Main St, Lyons, CO 80540; +1 720 460-0239

5. Tiny House Siesta, Sarasota, Florida

This sunny resort opened in February 2017 with 11 tiny houses and will soon increase to 14. Each house is different, painted in bright blues and yellows to match its Florida location.

The quirky, beachy vibe proliferates throughout, thanks to decor that includes polished surfboards, model boats and sand dollars. One house is even modeled after a classic red lifeguard stand.

Each unit is pet-friendly, with a small front porch and side sitting area. The resort is less than a mile from Siesta Key Beach, famous for white sand that's 99 percent quartz crystal -- and is therefore cool and soft to the touch.

"For people who love the [tiny house TV] shows but say 'I could never do that full time,' they now have a way to enjoy the experience for as little or long as they want," says founder Jeremy Ricci. "Why stay in a boring hotel room when you can stay in a tiny house?"

Tiny House Siesta, 6600 Avenue A, Sarasota, FL 34231; + 1 941 474-3782

6. Blue Moon Rising, McHenry, Maryland

When Lisa Jan set out to open a resort, her goal was to have as little impact on the natural environment as possible.

"I just wanted to prove that eco-conscious and sustainable living don't have to sacrifice beauty or comfort," she said.

Jan chose to use tiny homes because of their small carbon footprint and hired Hobbitat to build 14 customized models. Each is between 250 and 300 square feet and sleeps two to four people. The design is earthy and rustic, with reclaimed woods and metals providing most of the materials.

Just two hours from Pittsburgh and three from Baltimore, the pet-friendly property sits on 126 acres aside Deep Creek Lake. Guests can enjoy swimming, hiking, bonfires -- and each other. Though the resort provides Wi-Fi, it encourages guests to hit the trails instead.

Blue Moon Rising, 89 Blue Moon Rising Way, McHenry, MD 21541; +1 240 442-5287

7. Fireside Resort, Wilson, Wyoming

Jamie Mackay didn't intend to start building tiny homes. He just wanted to accommodate the guests who requested cabins at his RV park and ended up in a new industry.

"We couldn't find any existing tiny house cabins to meet our standards for design, durability and sustainability," he says. "So we designed and built our own."

Those first 20 houses became available for rental in 2008, and their design became the foundation for Mackay's new company, Wheelhaus.

Fireside now has 25 tiny homes on-site, available in three styles that sleep between two and six people. The 400-square-foot Wedge, whose exterior siding is made from reclaimed Wyoming snow fencing, comes with a fireplace, Tempur-Pedic mattress and private outdoor fire pit.

As for entertainment, the resort is in a prime spot: less than 10 miles to Jackson Hole Ski Resort, downtown Jackson and Grand Teton National Park, and 65 miles from Yellowstone National Park. In fall 2018, Fireside will add tiny houses to its Yellowstone location, which is 18 miles from the park.

Fireside Resort, 2780 North, WY-390, Wilson, WY 83014; +1 307 733-1177

8. Tiny Estates, Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania

One of the newest additions to the tiny house game, this resort opened in April 2018. It has 14 homes spread across a 14-acre former campground.

The homes, six of which were built by Pennsylvania-based Liberation Tiny Homes, are between 100 and 350 square feet each. Their interiors would make "Fixer Upper" star Joanna Gaines proud, featuring white paneling, natural wood accents, sliding barn doors and farmhouse sinks.

Future plans include a beach area and events center -- but right now, there are two communal hot tub areas with outdoor sofas and propane fire pits, as well as yard games like corn hole, ladder golf and giant Jenga. Lancaster, the heart of Pennsylvania Dutch country, and Hershey, home of the famous park, are less than 20 miles away.

CEO Abby Hobson eventually hopes to have 100 tiny houses on the property, which she said would make it the largest tiny home community in the nation.

Tiny Estates, 867 Schwanger Rd, Elizabethtown, PA 17022; +1 717 715-0030

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