You’ve just got to love the Okanagan! When the winter blahs hit you this season, there are dozens of great places to take a “staycation” – a genuine, world-class vacation in your own back yard. It will save you money and offers the activities, recreation and relaxation you traditionally seek in faraway destinations. If you’ve got the blues, pack your bags and get yourself to one of these nearby areas that are guaranteed to put the smile back on your face.
If the grey sky has you pining for blue skies, you need to go no further than Big White Ski Resort, where some of the highest terrain in B.C. takes you above the clouds that often accompany winter in the Okanagan valley. Bask in the sun-dappled village and head out on the snow-capped mountain.
The resort has designed getaway programs for local skiers, boarders and non-skiers alike. For a quick getaway, join in on the perennially popular Wednesday Ladies’ Day; add a couple of nights’ accommodation and make a real trip out of it! From beginner skiers and boarders to advanced, there are lessons and activities guaranteed to create a magical winter memory.
Jim Loyd, Big White’s long time Director of Sales and Marketing, suggests an itinerary starting with morning Ladies’ Day lesson and lunch, an afternoon in the powder snow and the must-see Après Ski at the Happy Valley Day Lodge with great live music. Dinner at one of the resorts’ 13 restaurants, Snowshoe Sams for dancing and a late evening hot tub. Spend the next day on the slopes and enjoy a late afternoon spa, sleigh ride and even a catered dinner.
Big White also features two Masters Weeks this winter. For the 50+ crowd, you’ll enjoy lessons, skiing and an endless list of ala carte activities. Try a cross-country ski or snowshoeing; ice skate; go dogsledding, skating or snowmobile touring, relax on the horse-drawn sleigh ride into the woods - where you’ll have a delicious dinner in a quaint cabin tucked amongst the trees - or even try your hand at ice-climbing. The Masters Weeks conjure up a bit of an international flavour, where guests from far-off mix with local enthusiasts.
Accommodations at Big White are as varied as the terrain on the mountain. With a capacity for 17,000 guests, you’ll find the perfect condo, townhouse or private chalet. Fifteen lifts will get you into the champagne powder and groomed runs on 118 designated trails.
Whenever your plan your getaway or ski week at Big White, you’ll find just the right mix of cozy accommodation, great skiing, exciting après ski, shopping and food to ensure that yours is the vacation of a lifetime. Get more information and prices at www.bigwhite.com.
Take a short, picturesque drive along Okanagan Lake and you’ll arrive at your very own little slice of heaven. It is the Summerland Waterfront Resort Hotel and really, there’s no place quite like it. Cozy but modern, relaxing and charming with stunning lake vistas, this gem is located in Summerland. It’s a great location for a getaway with your gal pals or a romantic weekend. You’ll find a unique array of activities at or near your doorstep, and the accommodation itself lends itself to a languid evening in front of the fireplace, sipping wine from one of the nearby vineyards.
Sales Manager Lisa Jaager says their suites are ideal for weekend getaways.
“It is the perfect place to get away. You don’t spend a lot of time getting to your destination but it feels like you’ve really gotten away. Summerland Waterfront Resort and the area around it is restful and rejuvenating, and there are less distractions. The area lends itself beautifully to walking. People hold hands a lot more when they’re here,” Jaager notes.
What to do in the winter? There are some fine wineries nearby that are open year-round. Enjoy tastings at award-winning wineries such as Sumac Ridge, Dirty Laundry and, by appointment, Okanagan Crush Pad. Sample the world-class wines and treat yourself to a bottle or two for your evening nestled in by the fire.
Summerland also has some fabulous little shops. At Carousel, you’ll discover a group of people who unearth terrific treasures and resell them.
“Meander from one room through to another and up the stairs. This is the perfect ‘poke-around’ place. And be sure to drop by Cherry Tree Quilts, a huge store with some amazing and fabulous pieces. There is also Suburban Princess, who receives containers full of items from high end department stores and sells them; Sass, a quirky spot for all ages and Rock Star District, to name a few,” Jaager suggests.
There are several packages available that celebrate romance, as well. The Escape Artist combines all of the essentials including one-night accommodation in a luxury suite, a $50 dining card for the sumptuous Local Lounge • Grille or Zia’s Stonehouse, a bottle of the Resorts’ special label wine, a $20 per person Beyond Wrapture Day Spa voucher and even early check in at 1 p.m.
A night or two at the Summerland Waterfront Resort and Spa will leave you with a smile, and undoubtedly making plans to return. Check it out at www.summerlandresorthotel.com
Further north in the Okanagan Valley sits another of the true jewels of the region. Sparkling Hill Resort, with a selection of 149 luxurious rooms and penthouse suites - some rooms are dog-friendly - has facilities and services that are second to none. The amenities at this world-class facility are endless and their destination spa rivals some of the very best.
The heart of Sparkling Hill in indeed the health and wellness spa. The 40,000 square foot KurSpa includes free guest access to the seven steam and sauna areas. There is an indoor pool, weight room, fully serviced gym and yoga room, as well as a year-round outdoor pool. Visit the Serenity Room, with truly spectacular views of the North Okanagan.
Sparkling Hill has some great getaways in the winter, from a two-night introductory package to week-long stays. The atmosphere, from the moment you enter the lobby, is serene and captivating.
The resort features an in-house clinic offering acupuncture, natural medicine, vitamin therapy and anti-aging programs.
One unique feature is the cold sauna, which involves two chambers and a taste of minus 110 degree temperatures. It is both healthy and rejuvenating. Outdoors you’ll find over 25 kilometers of hiking trails above Predator Ridge Golf Course. You can arrange wine tours, heli-skiing and snowshoe tours, to name just a few.
Fine dining is found at PeakFine, which caters to farm fresh food, the finest ingredients and farm-to-table seasonal meals. All stays include a daily hot European breakfast. There is also a wine bar by night, with 50 per cent off wine from 4 pm to 6 pm daily.
Visit www.sparklinghill.com/locals for the best rates and more information on this special show-stopping spa resort.
They don’t call it Grand for nothing….in Kelowna, a stay at the Delta Grand Okanagan Resort is the ideal lakefront urban staycation. It features all of the room styles and amenities for your ladies’ vacation or a winter getaway. Downtown Kelowna has evolved into a chic but cozy, sophisticated and friendly destination for shopping, dining, theatre and culture.
Explore the many hidden gems on the streets of downtown Kelowna. At the Curious Café – itself a delicious choice for some fabulous eats – you’ll find Bar Norcino. A quaint, private room with 33 seats, it offers fine wine, handcrafted cocktails and a selection of small plates. Check with the Curious Café for hours of operation for both.
The only problem you’ll face when it comes to dining in downtown Kelowna is choosing the perfect spot, and the choices are endless. Try Boucheons Bistro for some French fare in the Cultural District, or the delicious Italian aromas of La Bussola, one of Kelowna’s favorite restaurants for decades! And, one of the area’s more recent offerings, BNA Brewing Company and Eatery, is also nearby.
For something truly unique, visit the Wine Art and Piano bar, where you can try your hand at creating your own original artwork while enjoying local wines and light fare. Downtown entertainment is also at your fingertips, offering everything from the Kelowna Actors’ Studio to the Rotary Centre for the Arts, or perhaps outdoor ice skating near the waterfront!
When you’re finished exploring, head back to the Delta Grand Okanagan to the sumptuous, full service spa for an esthetics treatment or relaxing massage. And don’t miss the latest addition to the resort, Oak + Cru Social Kitchen & Wine Bar, featuring a menu created and inspired by the Okanagan Valley. Be sure to visit the Wine Experience Centre in the lobby area, where 2800 bottles of award-winning wines are stored and tastings take place daily. This pet-friendly resort also boasts an indoor pool, fitness centre, sauna and hot tubs indoors and out.
Lonely Planet recently crowned Canada the world’s best travel destination, and it is areas like all of these that have helped build that reputation. Whether you’re enjoying a small town, treating yourself to a spa, cozying up to the fire at Big White or taking in an urban getaway, The Okanagan has everything you’ll need to put a big, wintry smile on your face.