Virgin Holidays goes experiential with luxury tree house PR stunt

By February 11, 2016General

Did you see Virgin Holidays’ luxury tree house PR stunt?

The Virgin family of brands, headed up by maverick entrepreneur Richard Branson, are known for doing things their own way, and being open to cool and exciting ideas. Virgin Holidays recently decided to put its marketing budget to good use with a PR stunt that put influencers in a place to see what they do and how good at it they are.

In order to promote its private safari lodge’ luxury holiday experience in South Africa, Virgin Holidays erected a 35-foot high tree house on the South Bank.

Complete with private balcony, sweeping views of the Thames, and a personal chef, it offered passersby a chance to ‘get away from it all’ with their own private safari experience, right in the heart of the City.


Drawing reference from the luxury tree hut accommodation at the Lion Sands Game Reserve in South Africa, the structure was stilted on giant trunks and supported by a greenery-clad plinth.

Two elevated huts, made entirely from natural materials, towered over the Thames, while inside, the temporary residence, designed by Hubert Zandberg, comprised of two bespoke bedrooms, complete with a selection of tribal prints, a plush four-poster bed and several pieces of one-off African sculpture.

The week-long installation was designed to celebrate Virgin Holidays’ new ‘Wonderlist’ experiences – a collection of travel experiences that features unforgettable journeys for life’s milestones – weddings, honeymoons and retirement blowouts.

This particular experiential activation was inspired by a specific Virgin Holidays Wonderlist experience – their ‘Private Safari Lodge’ holiday.

The installation was open to the public during the day, and visitors were invited to enter an online competition to win a night’s stay in the luxurious tree house, with their own private celebrity Chef – Masterchef contestant Petrus Madutela.

Dinner wasn’t for the faint heart however, as Madutlela served up a six-course private degustation menu including dishes such as tempura meal worms with induja mayo, shaved ostrich biltong, braised terrine of crocodile and smoked goat fillet with chakalaka sauce.


The reason Virgin Atlantic has been such a rip-roaring success over the years is down to its founder. Branson truly understands the game of using publicity to connect with people; make them your friends and, finally, your customers.

With the tree house stunt, he got the press interested by inviting them for a private tour on opening day, and one lucky journalist got to spend a night in it, waking up to a spectacular view of St Paul’s and the Thames.

Hotcow is a non-traditional creative agency that specialises in experiential marketing that goes viral. Our campaigns generate buzz through crowd participation, PR and content sharing. Contact us on 0207 5030442 or email us on