To those in the know it’s referred to as “dining in the fluff,” but to the uninitiated it just looks like men and women enjoying fine dining while wrapped in bath robes. Welcome to Sparkling Hill Resort.
As we arrived at the Okanagan-based, wellness-themed resort in February, we also spotted guests wearing robes in the lobby of the hotel, in the hallways and, of course, the 40,000-square-foot KurSpa.
Earlier, my partner and I had enjoyed a pleasant five-hour drive from Vancouver to Vernon with no sign of snow on the unpredictable Coquihalla and nothing more than the odd patch of packed slush to traverse.
The resort is perched on a hill overlooking Predator Ridge Resort and golf course, which often works with Sparkling Hill on creating wellness packages.
Checking into our room, I was immediately drawn to the large soaker tub adjacent to the floor-to-ceiling windows, which can be opened to transform your room into an outdoor oasis. The rooms also enjoy stunning views of either Lake Okanagan or the Monashee Mountains. The tubs are crystal shaped in keeping with the theme of the resort envisioned by Gernot Langes-Swarovski, patriarch of the Swarovski crystal family. But it’s Swarovski’s “chief crystal architect” Andreas Altmayer who was the mastermind behind Sparkling Hill’s design, which incorporates 3.5 million crystals throughout, including the glowing “fireplace” in our room. Those crystals can be found in and on everything from the show-stopping, almost three-storey installation lighting up the lobby to the trim on the backs of chairs in the dining room.
It was Langes-Swarovski’s love of the natural beauty of the Okanagan Valley combined with a desire to bring the European wellness experience to the rest of the world that prompted him to develop Sparkling Hill Resort.
Sparkling Hill staff make it clear that while the focal point of the resort, besides the crystals, is KurSpa, the resort is more about wellness than indulgence, though after enjoying the Fango wrap and massage — a detoxifying treatment including mud made from volcanic dust — I was feeling pretty pampered, too. Guests of the hotel have complimentary access to seven unique aromatherapy saunas and steam rooms and “experience showers” — one mimics a cool storm and the other warm tropical rain. There’s also an igloo, an indoor pool complete with underwater music and a starry Swarovski crystal sky ceiling, a hot pool, an outdoor infinity pool, Kneipp water therapy, tea and serenity relaxation rooms and a fitness studio. For the brave at heart, the infamous cold sauna offers three-minute treatments — so long as you can stand the -110 C temperature. I’ve been assured because it’s a “dry cold” it’s easier to handle. Needless to say I left the cold spa for another time.
My partner and I did take advantage of the steam rooms and outdoor pool where, surrounded by snow, we enjoyed the warm water. The steam rising into the cool winter air gives the pool a surreal experience.
We also enjoyed some great meals at PeakFine, which offers a menu comprised largely of locally sourced products and ingredients, and despite the alternative, we both opted to actually dress for dinner and left our bathrobes in our room.