In beautiful BC, world travellers are coming to drink up a crystal and European inspired experience: Sparkling Hill Resort.
The Okanagan Valley is fertile wine country with championship golf courses, water sports and ski hills. Now, it has one more jewel in its crown: Sparkling Hill Resort in Vernon, BC, whose unique spa is being called “the best in North America” and where 3.5 million Swarovski crystals magnify the beauty around it.
Room with a view
Relaxation is easy amid the gently rolling hills of the Okanagan and the views are amazing. Throughout the building, glass and only a smattering of walls stand between the rolling countryside and its guests. No walls stand between each room’s shower, crystal-shaped bathtub or the wide world, exposing Canadians to the ambivalent European attitude toward clothing. Although window coverings are provided, inside, bathers are left to fend (off) for themselves.
Sparkling Hill is a personal project of Mr. Gernot Langes-Swarovski and is winner of numerous awards since it opened in 2010. Each room is adorned with a twinkling crystal fireplace and crystals in the ceiling but, while the sun is out and the shades open, nothing can outshine the outstanding view.
At night, cascading chandeliers made of thousands of crystals and just the right amount of suspended and inlaid crystal installations melt even the gruffest of men who can be overheard to say “Everywhere you look, it’s so beautiful.”
The heart of the experience is the European-style Kur Spa. Access to saunas and steam rooms, heated saltwater pools and a German Kneipp pool is complimentary with each stay. The Kneipp pool is a circular walkway submerged knee-deep in water that changes from warm to cool to warm. Though it doesn’t sound like much, the effects are subtle, immediate and
wonderful: three times around relaxes and invigorates the whole body.
Catching up to the Europeans
Hydrotherapy and other types of preventative remedies are just starting to be widely appreciated by North Americans and Sparkling Hill is paving the way. Part social experience, part meditation and totally rejuvenating, the Austrian-designed steam and sauna circuit takes you through nine warm, hot, cold, steamy and dry environments for 2 to 3 hours of languorous relaxation per day. Worth the entire trip by itself.
For those who want the authentic exhilaration that comes with the Northern European tradition of alternating a hot sauna with a jump in the snow, you’ll find actual fresh snow to rub on yourself in the Igloo sauna which is a dry 10 degrees Celsius.
European spas function more like clinics and Kur Spa is the place to go if you seek a comprehensive anti-aging regimen or a natural program for well-being: acupuncture, homeopathy, naturopathic medicine, clinical nutrition and more. North America’s first cryotherapy treatments are found there — three minutes in a -110 Celsius chamber, which does wonders for chronic pain sufferers.
When you’re ready to put clothes on again (in Euro-spa fashion, robes and slippers are common attire all day long, even at breakfast and lunch) ask the concierge to recommend a wine route or a tee time. Or just stroll by the lake and take in the gentle beauty of orchards and forests with your becalmed, post-spa eyesight. It’s just what the doctor ordered.
Drive the 4 to 6 hours from Vancouver if you like beautiful mountain passes. It’s a good way to separate from city stress or a fun spin in your sports car. Otherwise, hop a flight to Kelowna from many national or international airports.
An evening when every room is sold is still a very quiet evening at Sparkling Hill. And morning. And midday. Sparkling Hill caters very well to adults who take wellness seriously but not to children. Besides, they’ll be happier at home where there’s more to do.