Sparkling Hill Resort Shimmers in the Okanagan Valley

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Sparkling Hill Resort and Spa is truly one of a kind. Opened in 2010, it was the first in the world to incorporate more than 3.5 million Swarovski crystals into its design, from stunning chandeliers to the backs of dining room chairs. They bring shimmer and sparkle to this luxurious, 149-room property, overlooking the pristine natural beauty of Lake Okanagan in Vernon, British Columbia.

Guests can jump wholeheartedly into comprehensive wellness programs, akin to those found in Europe. Packages run the gamut from single, one-off spa treatments to immersive weeklong sessions themed around topics like healthy weight loss, detoxing, relationship building and healthy aging.

Within the 40,000 square-foot KurSpa, there’s a clinic that is focused on “transformative” treatments. These may tap into the expertise of the resort’s psychiatrist, kinesiologist, nutritionist, naturopath, homeopath, acupuncturist and assorted spa personnel. It’s serious stuff. You can even get injection and intravenous treatments geared to combatting health problems like joint inflammation, hormone imbalance, vitamin deficiencies or flu prevention.

The state-of-art spa has an impressive array of amenities and treatments to suit those seeking a hardcore wellness makeover or casual dabblers. All the usual treatments are offered, from facials to pedicures; but there’s an interesting array of less common ones, including the cryo cold sauna – the only one found in North America.

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At a temperature of -110 degrees Celsius, this is intense cold like you’ve never experienced before unless you’ve visited the North Pole perhaps. It involves spending as much as three minutes in a cold chamber with the goal of revving up immune and circulatory systems.

Thankfully, you’re supervised the entire time, so you can bail, if you get too uncomfortable. I gave it a shot and managed to endure the full maximum amount of time. Areas where you don’t have a lot of body fat, like shins and elbows, hurt and felt like they were burning as the session ended. But I did feel very awake and energetic afterward.

A little less intense and frosty is the igloo at 10 degrees Celsius. It’s not a typical igloo. It’s a luxurious version with white marble tiles and a fountain that release crushed ice. After a sauna or steam, a visit here helps drop your body temperature and maximize the benefits of your spa stay.

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It’s not all cold comfort. There is an experiential shower with eucalyptus, mandarin and orange scents, coupled with multiple showerheads with varying water pressure. Or take a dip in the heated indoor pool, warmer hot pool at 38 degrees Celsius, and an outdoor infinity saltwater pool with gorgeous views of Lake Okanagan. A fitness studio, tea room and serenity room complete the wellness picture. Complimentary access comes with your room stay.

Take note that each day between 9 pm and 10 pm is the designated “European hour,” when it’s clothing optional for the steam rooms and saunas.

That spa vibe carries on into other areas of the resort. The guest rooms rely on natural light, warm woods and a soothing palette – plus more Swarovski crystals, of course – to create a sense of calm. Soaker tubs are a highlight, situated right next to the floor-to-ceiling windows – a perfect spot to sip a glass of wine and watch the sun set.

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In the on-site restaurants, it’s not uncommon to see guests sitting at tables in elegant dining rooms wearing white bathrobes (provided by the resort). It’s that kind of place where you can come as you are – an oh-so-European attitude. The food doesn’t scream spa cuisine, which is a good thing for those of us who like to really eat.

PeakFine offers fine dining with hearty dinner entrées, like pasta, bison, and veal. If you’ve come to Sparkling Hill with a health goal in mind, there are lighter dishes like a Thai coconut soba noodle stir fry and seared tofu. The menus clearly indicated which ones are vegan, vegetarian and healthy lifestyle choices.

Because of this adults-only property’s location in the Okanagan Valley, aka “Napa of the North,” there’s a bounty of excellent local and international wines available. The list showcases many from wineries in the area, such as Road 13, Quail’s Gate, Mission Hill and Laughing Stock, well worth the try. Though there’s a strong emphasis on wellness on the property, there’s no need to forego indulgences like booze, butter, cheese or bread.

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Stays at Sparkling Hill also include a full breakfast buffet. You’ll find healthy options like fruit, homemade granola, and juice alongside more decadent offerings like sausage, bacon, cheese, cold cuts and house-made pastries. Endless cups of coffee and tea are also included in the mix. Clearly, indulgence and healthy choices can co-exist, catering to all tastes.

Of note to golfers is nearby Predator Ridge. It was designed by golf course architect Doug Carrick and is considered one of Canada’s best. If you’re hoping to hit the greens, time your visit carefully since the course closes for the winter, then reopens in April. Meanwhile, wine lovers can hop to tasting rooms to their hearts’ content at local wineries.

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The nice thing about this place is that you feel healthier just by being there. Maybe it’s the fresh air, the nearby lake twinkling under the sunshine, or the European vacation-kind of atmosphere. Even if you’re not going for change your life with the intensive spa treatments, you can recharge and relax in luxury, complete with all those crystals that sparkle everywhere (including on employee name badges). It’s a property that boasts plenty of razzle dazzle.

Rooms start at US $220 a night. Check current rates through the resort. You can also compare rates at Expedia or Travelocity.

Michele stayed as a guest of Sparkling Hill Resort and Spa, but as always, her thoughts and opinions are her own. Photos courtesy of Sparkling Hill.

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