Guests at Watermark Beach Resort can take advantage of nearby Osoyoos Lake. // © 2016 Waterfront Beach Resort
Feature image (above): Okanagan Valley is a key player in Canada’s wine scene. // © 2016 iStock
Thoughtful dining experiences, winery biking tours and plenty of relaxation make up British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley, a semi-arid area that is famously known as a hot spot for wine lovers across the country. Located about five hours from Vancouver, British Columbia, and Seattle, Okanagan Valley offers a quaint and friendly getaway with no shortage of activities for traveling families, groups and couples alike.
Good food — and, with approximately 165 wineries, good wine — is abundant in Okanagan Valley. Whether clients want a farm-to-table experience or casual fare by the beach, fresh and vibrant flavors can be found aplenty.
For a superbly special experience, make a reservation at Chef Chris Van Hooydonk’s chef’s table at Backyard Farm, where his team prepares an exquisite meal from scratch for a private dining experience. Dine in Van Hooydonk’s own farmhouse, which is also home to an orchard of cherry trees, and plan meals with the chef using seasonal and local ingredients of the highest quality. Clients can bring their own wines from local vineyards and work with Van Hooydonk to plan pairings according to the dishes that will be served.
Lakefront lodging is all the rage in Osoyoos, the southernmost town in Okanagan Valley, and there’s no better place to stay than Watermark Beach Resort. Outfitted with all the amenities needed during a visit, clients should opt for one of the 123 rooms and suites or rent a two-bedroom villa complete with two bathrooms, a kitchen, a living room, a spacious deck with a grill and fireplace and lake views. A gym, two outdoor hot tubs and an outdoor pool with a waterslide is also available. And, of course, swimming in Osoyoos Lake —Canada’s warmest — is just a stone’s throw away.
Heatstroke Cycle, based in Osoyoos, features electric bike tours of wineries in southern Okanagan. I found the tours with Heatstroke a great way to really soak up both the wine and the landscape. Bikes are outfitted with a small, battery-operated motor that makes hills a breezy feat with one turn of the wrist. Tours are offered beginning Easter weekend and run until Canada’s Thanksgiving.
After a tour, head to the city of Kelowna in central Okanagan for even more options — an hour-and-a-half drive up north leads visitors to Mission Hill Winery, which is a treat on a grandiose scale. Enveloped in architecture by Tom Kundig, every aspect of this property has meaning. Take a tour through underground wine cellars and dine at Terrace restaurant — which opens in May — for beautiful views, food and wine pairings.
In the summer, time a visit to coincide with one of the concerts held at the winery’s outdoor amphitheater, which last year included high-caliber artists such as The Wallflowers and Martina McBride.