Travel about 30 minutes north of Kelowna International Airport – the hub of British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley in Canada – and you’ll hit the outskirts of Vernon, and the hills which overlook the start of the Okanagan Lake. Here you’ll find destinations like the Predator Ridge Resort and Golf Course, plenty of walking trails and the jewel (or, better yet, crystal) in the region’s crown, the Sparkling Hill Resort & Spa.
The stunning escape is without question one of the finest resorts in the world. A private investment of Mr. Gernot Langes-Swarovski, patriarch of the Swarovski crystal family, this $22 million resort that opened in 2010 is without question one of the finest in the world. Filled with no less than 3.5 million crystals worth some $10 million (many of which you’ll find in your room), the glamour attached to the Swarovski name is only part of the attraction to the resort. It’s what else you’ll find inside that will ensure you’ll never want to leave. Let’s just start with the views, with many rooms delivering a sight of Okanagan Lake you could only dream of. And with a bath by the window, you just might.
Everything in the room has been designed with meticulous attention to detail, from the crystals which adorn it, to the massive windows overlooking the hotel’s picture-perfect infinity pool and the lake, giving you breathtaking panoramic views. You can also open the window, partially, should you want to envelop yourself in the air and smells of the stunning outdoor landscape.
The open plan room provides comfort and ease – and adds to the spirit of a romantic getaway (should that be the reason for your visit). And with relaxing music emanating from the large flat screen TV from the minute you walk into the room, they want to ensure your visit is a restful one too. The large robes and slippers placed on the bed are encouraged to be worn throughout the facility at all times, even at breakfast – though you’ll see more formal wear out for dinner.
All the rooms in the hotel look just like this – some with two beds, others with just the one (the former being slightly larger) – with the exception of the penthouses, and start from a surprisingly affordable C$289/night (the penthouses, meanwhile, will set you back at least C$1k a night).
The mattress is remarkably comfortable – something of a memory foam coating its surface, ensuring it aligns to the contours of your body and provides you with a relaxing sleep. Beyond that, the room is filled with eco-conscious toiletries from Stem, bath crystals from Gilchrist & Soames of London, and it doesn’t trade in its design or location by lacking in attention to the needs of the everyday traveller, offering the latest state-of-the-art facilities.
There are plenty of places to charge your devices, with fast and free wi-fi throughout the facilities (no logins needed) and a TV filled with tonnes of television and radio stations from both the USA and Canada. A Samsung tablet also sits next to the phone, providing you with local weather and information about the hotel. And the attention to detail you’ll find in the room can be found throughout the entire hotel – look up at the crystals in the resort’s ballroom that make up the “chandeliers”, and you’ll see they are formed in the shape of the iconic Canadian Maple Leaf.
And if all this is not enough, Swarovski items are for sale here that you can only otherwise get at their Austrian showrooms – and the valet parking is complimentary!
Whether you’re inside your room, or outside it, the resort is truly a retreat, with a focus on mind, body, soul, relaxation and silence. There’s no real competitor to what they’re doing in Canada. And it’s more than just a high end accommodation with a luxury spa (KurSpa, the intoxicating smells of which permeate the whole 40k square foot facility, to which I was lucky enough to have an express elevator right next to my room) – it’s all about health and wellness, with a European approach.
Reportedly many athletes comes to these facilities to help with injuries – thanks in part to the -110 Celsius Cryotherapy chamber, the first of its kind in North America (learn more about it HERE). There are a lot of corporate retreats which take place here too. And then there’s that infinity pool, which is heated year round. This is the only place to watch the sun set.
Elsewhere there are a seven steam rooms and saunas, the Kaiser gym, and showers that offer five different “experiences”, with aromas and music adding to many, such as the “rainforest”. They’re worth checking out even if you don’t plan on jump into the steam rooms. The various saunas vary in theme and heat, some recommend towels, and other recommend no towels. Thankfully no one was taking the European approach even though we were there in the appropriate hour. Inside you’ll also find a whirlpool with massage jets, and a warm saltwater pool where you are encouraged to float and look up at the “stars”. Made from crystals, naturally.
Elsewhere, you’ll find a Kneipp Waterway Pool to encourage healthy circulation as you walk between hot and cold water. Access to everything bar the Cyrotherapy chamber is included with your room, with access to most available between 7am to 10pm. There are some other extras, like $10 yoga classes, and speciality treatments, with 48 treatment rooms throughout the resort.
All guests will enjoy an inclusive hot European-inspired buffet breakfast at the PeakFine Restaurant, with the aforementioned robes encouraged to be worn during the meal. You’ll find lots of cold meats and cheeses, waffles, scrambled eggs, potatoes, sausages, self serve smoothies (strawberry/raspberry on offer today), cereals, fruits and freshly cut bread. The restaurant also offer impressive lunches and dinners, with a wide array of local BC drinks and dishes, and a menu that changes seasonally – though I’m told the Beef Tenderloin is a mainstay and favourite of the menu.
I enjoyed the Crab Stuffed Chicken Oscar with herb potato gratin and asparagus, and an Okanagan Spring Pale Ale, and was impressed by the whole experience, which starts from the moment you sit down; greeted to warm crusty bread and whipped butter with garlic lemon and rosemary for the table.
While you won’t want to leave the confines of this hotel, the surrounding Okanagan Valley is filled with remarkable beauty and definitely worth your time. Famed for its wine, there are plenty of wineries to visit, which are naturally most active in the Summer months. You’ll find incredible food at a lot of these destinations, too – and repeatedly impressive views.
Overall, the experience at Sparkling Hill Resort and Spa is an unforgettable one, with an unmatched level of comfort, luxury and relaxation. With such a wide range of included extras, you’ll wonder why you ever travelled anywhere else.
Sparkling Hill Resort & Spa is located at 888 Sparkling Pl, Vernon, BC V1H 2K7, Canada. For more details about the resort head HERE. Rooms start at just $289 a night.
The author was provided with one night’s stay at the hotel, flying to Kelowna, British Columbia with Air Canada via Vancouver, made possible with the support of Destination BC and Destination Canada. Photos by the author.