Celebrate Your Life – See the World
by J “Kat” Loren ::
Every season has its beauty. It’s as true on the face of nature as it is on the human face. After a week at Sparkling Hill Resort in British Columbia’s Okanagan Lake region, three hours drive from Vancouver, BC, I sat beside a small pond near the resort and felt the beauty of my years shine forth from inside – out. I felt as if I were glowing, as if the light from the tens of thousands of Swarovski crystals that adorn the resort had flicked the “on” switch in me.
Nearby, piles of snow with their crystalline skin spread tiny rainbows across the earth as winter faded to spring. A red winged blackbird signaled its presence in the ghostly silver branches of a poplar aching to be green again. I felt fully present, centered, loving this moment in life, listening to the various birds and the trickle of melting snow rustling the dried bulrushes on their way into the lake. I felt my winter bow to the warmth of an early spring and grew excited for the promises a spectacular summer.
I came to Sparkling Hill Resort, a European-style spa in the mountains just a few hours from Vancouver, B.C., to participate in a “Whole Body Wellness” program – a week of spa treatments, steam rooms and saunas, and being completely pampered. It is a resort that one participant called “affordable luxury”. And another called “exceptional service and a view that’s spectacular no matter when you arrive”. And it lived up to its promise.
One week of fine dining, fantastic varieties of massage, lovely hiking trails, swimming in the deliciously warm infinity pool and wine tasting in the Napa of the North by helicopter (the resort sports three heli-pads), and you will know what I mean when I say the word “relaxed”.
Perhaps it was the detoxing effects of the rose steam room and the dry saunas; or the fact that I could feast in a magnificent breakfast in the dining room’s seemingly endless smorgasbord… in my bathrobe… that made me so relaxed. By the end of a week, I felt whole in body, soul and spirit, connected to myself and more open-hearted towards others I meet here.
From the moment I walked into the resort and looked around at the thousands upon thousands of the Swarovski crystals I felt instantly calmer and awash in awe. Waves of crystals hung from the lobby ceiling and the dining room, and inside KurSpa located across the lobby, a waterfall descended into the room.
The rooms are spectacular. A crystal “fire” adorns every guest’s room as well as a wall of glass that fully opens the vistas of Lake Okanagan on one side or Monashee Mountain and the hillsides below the resort on the other side. One large pane of the wall opens so guests may invite the mountains’ fresh air to erase the stress and calm the soul. The perfectly designed and apportioned room rendered it soundproof from the other rooms next door and on the floor above. A two-person soaking tub sits next to the “window wall” with spectacular views of the moonlit night and stars.
Total serenity envelops the vacationer whether you travel alone or with another.
I traveled here alone. But Canadians are a friendly lot and I soon found myself enjoying the company of other women travelers who came here alone, or with a girlfriend or daughter, for a few days or weeks of treatments in Kur Spa, or to participate in one of the weight loss, detox and healthy aging programs.
All guests have access to KurSpa’s seven unique aromatherapy saunas and steam rooms, experience showers, the cool-down igloo, an indoor pool complete with underwater music and starry Swarovski crystal sky, a large hot whirlpool, the outdoor infinity pool overlooking Lake Okanagan, the hot-and-cold knee-high pathway called “Kneipp water therapy”, the light-filled Tea & Serenity Relaxation Rooms, and the Keiser-equipped fitness studio.
Guests pay extra for massage and beauty treatments. I sampled many during my stay and I can attest, as a world-wide traveler, that KurSpa has the best staff. Every massage was excellent and the mani-pedi, hair cut and color was the best I’ve had near or far from home. Each practitioner takes time to do it right, treating each guest as if s/he were the only one there.
Although the adult-only resort was built in 2010, it has clearly become a favorite destination resort for Canadians of all ages from nearby provinces as well as anyone looking for a health, wellness and relaxation escape. Couples come to escape the confines of their house in winter and tour Kelowna’s wine estates in summer. Golfers come for the beauty of playing Predator Ridge’s 18-hole course just down the hill. Athletes and heli-skiers come to soak their aches away after a hard day of skiing or a season of marathon running. It has caught on with Europeans and Australians who see this as the worlds only European style health and wellness resort outside of Europe. And I can see why.
Owned by Gernot Langes-Swarovski of the Swarovski Crystal family, Sparkling Hill was originally the vision of Hans-Peter Mayr, an Austrian who had the foresight to create a 149-room, luxury mountain resort built on foundations of European wellness that incorporate the healing vistas of nature to refresh the spirit, fresh air that soothes the soul, and spa and water treatments that detox the body.
While the crystal art forms and mountain vistas create an atmosphere of luxury, Hans-Peter and his staff release the warmth and hospitality of a small mountain resort tucked away in the Austrian Alps. Sparkling Hill Resort is truly a hidden gem that leaves you feeling like a gem.
Easily accessible from Seattle by plane (fly into nearby Kelowna) or car (4.5 hours drive), and the best place to stay in the Okanagan, Americans are missing out if they don’t visit this European Spa in the heart of wine-tasting heaven.
888 Sparkling Place, Vernon, BC, V1H2K7, Canada
firstname.lastname@example.org | 250-275-1556
As is common in the travel industry, Sparkling Hill Resort sponsored this week-long program. The opinions of the writer, and the beauty she experienced, are her own.
J “Kat” Loren is a Pacific NW-based journalist and author of more than a dozen books. She currently focuses on writing health, fitness, and travel articles. Her blog “Crazi Culture” is a popular read among those who like eclectic topics and travelogues about odd places and adventures. http://www.craziculture.com
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