Swanky Panky in the Okanagan

Getting your sparkle back, Swarovski-style

sparkling hill resort / photo by toque & canoe

Privacy. A little exercise. A memorable meal and some decent wine.

This is all my husband and I were after when my folks offered to take our children for three (not two, but three!!!) nights this summer – giving us the luxury of a sneak-away to celebrate our 18th wedding anniversary.

The whole point of a romantic escape sans enfants is to re-visit simple pleasures, right?

Given our usual summer travels around Western Canada and our familiarity with the area, we chose the B.C.’s Okanagan Valley as our destination. And everything worked out perfectly.

We selected the award-winning Sparkling Hill Resort – located between Kelowna and Vernon – as our home base.

I’d been there just after the opening of this Swarovski-owned European spa. But that was a girls’ night out kind of deal, an entirely different (nonetheless memorable) occasion.

Now that I’ve experienced the resort with my husband, I would argue that Sparkling Hill – while a great option for girlfriend gatherings – is also tailor-made for romance.

I’m thinking of the rosy cheeked, bathing-suit-clad couple from Italy hiding out in one of the property’s several saunas – her head nestled into his neck as they stretched out side by side enjoying the, ahem, heat.

And the pair perched outside beneath a hot Okanagan sun – leaning towards one another from poolside chairs and smooching beneath the bright orange towel they’d pulled over their heads. (The last time I saw that kind of public display of affection was in the city parks of Paris!)

Not to mention the quiet duo from Japan – decked out in fluffy white robes after a day in the spa and heading up to their room in the resort’s elevator. I saw this couple often during our three day stay. They never spoke but they were always, always smiling.

What makes this facility really sing as a couple’s destination are the rooms.

“They’re rare. You actually want to linger in them,” said one guest, commenting on his room’s giant bed, crisp white linens, walk through shower, window-side bathtub, comfortable reading chairs and incredible ceiling-to-floor vista of Lake Okanagan.

With “privacy” checked off our list, our quest turned to exercise.

We took advantage of the resort’s close proximity to Predator Ridge for 18 holes of golf. This is a stunning and challenging course that real golfers, like my husband, consider a privilege to play. (I slipped away after nine holes so I could nap, swim, read, sunbathe and sauna. Why? Because I could!)

As for our most memorable meal? On the night of our actual anniversary, we tore ourselves away from the temptations of Sparkling Hill and drove half an hour to the Grey Monk Estate Winery where we celebrated at the Grapevine Restaurant.

Aside from the physical elegance of this well-established winery – where old world-style architecture meets the raw Canadian beauty of the Okanagan – I’m still dreaming of the wild mushroom soup served to us that night. The wild mushroom soup and the chewy 2009 Odyssey Meritage that tasted of blackberries and vanilla, setting the stage for our main course of perfectly-seasoned rosemary lamb.

In all? A pretty awesome wedding anniversary.

Looking to “sparkle” things up a little yourself? Trust me when I say Sparkling Hill, Predator Ridge and Grey Monk combined are a potent trilogy.

— Kim Gray


*Editor’s note: Our writer was hosted by Sparkling Hill Resort, Grey Monk Estate Winery and Predator Ridge Golf Course. This post was not reviewed or edited by our partners in tourism before publication.

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  1. Heather commented:

    This photo has inspired me to give Sparkling Hills a try next time I get to the Okanagan, which, lucky for me, is every summer! Thanks for all the details! What a great website!


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