My girlfriend and I have been trying to top each other for our birthdays, for years now. And this year she raised the bar again with a weekend getaway to Vernon’s “Sparkling Hill”.
Naturally we were planning on drinking, so decided to bypass the 4 hour car ride and take a plane instead. 30 minutes on the plane waiting and another 30 actually flying over the mountains, brought us to Kelowna; and the down side to our flight plan. The $90 cab ride from airport to resort.
Worth noting is, if we did drive, valet parking is complimentary, one car per room. And $20 a night for anything additional. The resort also offers complimentary shuttle rides from the resort to “Predator Ridge” and its golf course.
”Sparkling Hill” serves as an escape for wellness and relaxation, but is better known for its Swarovski crystal elements. Crystals that adorn the back of chairs and the banisters to the stairs. Sparkling detail on the mirrors, and built into the art work and lighting fixtures. Eye catching crystals in every corner. But my favourite ones were the one used in the men and women’s washroom signs, what a way to upgrade and every day experience.
For a more visual account of this trip, check out my latest vlog, now up on my YouTube channel: MaggiMei.
Given that the resort is in the middle of no where, we spent all our time within it. Luckily my girlfriend got us the “Edelweiss Penthouse” suite. This corner suite on the 2nd floor (out of 3) gave us ample sprawling room.
A living area with couch and recliners, facing a flat screen television. A table for dining on and a full sized refrigerator, you don’t really use due to the fact that groceries are far away and there is no kitchen to cook any of it in. Nor is there a microwave to help heat up any of our leftovers. So it simply kept our bottles of wine cool.
Around the corner is the first of two washrooms. A closeted space with a simple toilet, facing a mirrored encrusted with a wave of Swarovski crystals.
On the other wing of this expansive suite was the bed room and full washroom. The former had a king size bed facing a secondary flat screen and fireplace. Adjacent to it was a floor to ceiling window and a cow hide lounger facing the view.
The washroom was the most impressive of the accommodation with several ways to keep keep yourself clean. A dual head shower with 2 facets, a free standing tub, and two sinks. Perfect for couples who want to do things together, but not have to wait for their turn with the hot or running water.
Here, the secondary toilet was a special one: heated and with a built in bidget. You can choose the force and the direction in which the stream shoots at your parts. You can then follow up your cleaning with some in-toilet drying, as a gust of heated air blows everything dry.
And for even more luxury, we had our own private, wood furnished, sauna with heated coals. Allowing us to enjoy our own sauna, instead of the similar one down at the spa.
Each “Sparkling Hills” stay includes access to “Kuspa” and many of its amenities, with many more services you can add on.
The spa has a no cellphone policy. This is to ensure that all guests have their privacy, and that you as a guest can disconnect. However so many disregard this. During my time at the spa I heard the ding-ing of phone messages, and saw groups of girls taking photos amongst everyone else in the pool. And only after I saw this, and noted all the photos of the spa being geotagged on Instagram, that I dared to take my own. However, I made sure no one was in the vicinity, coming early and avoiding the crowds, and that we didn’t disrupt anyone in doing so.
We ventured into the sauna well before it opened for the day. Before majority of the guests woke up and before the steam was turned on. There are seven aromatherapy steam rooms and saunas built around the European spa philosophy. Where the cycle of healing and holistic rejuvenation is one of heat, cold, rest, and invigorating repetition. You can move through the different saunas and steam rooms by alternating between hot, cold and rest with rehydration to receive the maximum health benefits. Each room had a plaque telling you how long you should stay inside it and if it is best done with or without a towel.
The Aqua Meditation steam room is the first, it has the sound of water gently dripping into a Swarovski Crystal basin. You listen to the drips as you lounge on cushioned seats. Gentle calming music plays in the background, and you breathe in the scent of orange. It is suggested that you start here with some meditation before or after your steam or sauna.
The steam rooms are basically arranged in the order of which you would want to visit them. They transition from warm to hot, varying by 2 degrees between rooms. The second door is the Rose Steam Room set at 38°C. As you can guess, it is fragranced with the sweet scent of rose, and decorated with pink lights and single rose pedals in a frame.
Where the first two rooms were blue and pink, the Salt Steam room is red. It is set at 40°C and plenty of Himalayan salt. Brine-infused water droplets fill the air, simulating a natural salt cave. It is believed that being in this salt here will “enhance concentration, stop aging, and smooth wrinkles”.
I liked the “bling bling” look of the Crystal Steam room set at 42°C. Here, “Swarovski crystal elements and mirrors create an illusion of infinite time and space; as eucalyptus aromatics energize and uplift”.
The 60°C Herbal Sauna utilizes “traditional beams of imported European wood combined with pine aromatics, to help creation the sensation of being in the great outdoors”. An iron basket filled with stones is heated and maneuvered into a copper basin of water, this creates steam. “The resulting humidity and heat promotes the cleansing of lungs, and provides a surge of moisture for your skin”.
The Panorama Sauna is 80°C offering a panoramic windowed view of green forested hills and the blue lake of the Okanagan. The dry heat calms the body, helping to release tension and stimulates the glandular system.
The Finnish sauna is also known as the classic one, set at 10 degrees more that the last. This style is true to the European spa tradition with walls and benches of gently polished wood. With high temperature and a low 10% humidity, this room is ideal for cleansing your skin and lungs. Most memorable is its hand painted art inspired by Michelangelo.
I really liked the 10°C Igloo. It had the sound of crackling ice and the scents of peppermint and eucalyptus, meant to invigorate. This room is recommended after a sauna or steam, to reduce your body temperature. Here, the floor is glazed with Swarovski crystal lacquer, the silver tiles on either end are chilled with ice. And at thecentre is a fountain that releases crushed ice into a basin. You are meant to rub the ice onto your skin, as an way to stimulate circulation.
The “Experience Showers” come with a array of water falling options, with multiple shower heads to help stimulate the skin from many angles. Some of these showers have options like: “tropical and thunder rain, spray and side massage, side and overhead shower, colour changing lights; and fragranced scents like eucalyptus or orange and mandarin.
We would spend most of our time at the pool. The one that most take a photo in and in-front is the “Outdoor Infinity Pool”. A cool body of water with a panoramic view of Lake Okanagan and the surrounding vistas. Rain or shine visitors can enjoy this tranquil oasis.
For those who like a roof over them, there is a “Indoor Serenity Pool”. Unique with the soft underwater music and Swarovski crystals glittering above as you swim through the warm clear water, treated with salt.
The “Indoor Hot Pool” is adjacent. Your typical hot tub outfitted with bubbling jets.
The “Kneipp Hydrotherapy” is in the space adjacent. It is a shallow maze of water that you walk through. This stepping causes the blood vessels to expand and contract, it stimulates and invigorates the circulatory and lymphatic systems, it helps to relax the nervous system, reduce swelling, increases the body’s defence against varicose veins, and relaxes aching muscles.
At the other wing of the spa is the Fitness Studio. A gym equipped with the newest and most advanced Keiser fitness equipment, using air pressure to increase and decrease resistance.
Their “Movement Studio” hosts a couple of complimentary classes a day, including yoga and stretching classes.
The “Tea Room” offers caffeine-free herbal teas, best enjoyed on one of their loungers, looking out at their Okanagan view.
And for a more calming environment and one to nap in, try the “Serenity Relaxation Room”. A quiet, space to relax in, after or in-between treatments. Here more loungers, with a few behind stringed fringe, looking at the Monashee Mountains and Lake Okanagan.
Other wellness experiences that come at an additional cost include various massages, reiki (the energy technique using light touch), reflexology, customizable facials, body wraps, exfoliating scrubs, and their famous cryo cold chamber treats. The latter is an anti-inflammatory treatment that introduces cold temperatures as low as -110 degrees.
We paid extra to enjoy their “mud and muscle” treatment in their “Fango” section. “Fango” is the Italian word for mud. Pure volcanic dust and water are blended into a warm, buttery composition. It is spread over the skin to help detoxify and reinvigorate muscles. I thought we would be slathered in this mud, but only your backs were coated. Its warmth engulfs you from neck to tail bone, as you are wrapped in plastic and cloth. This allows your skin to absorb the minerals. You sit and relax as you are given either a foot or scalp massage, or both.
And after 30 minutes of stewing you are invited to wash the mud off in the in-suite shower. I felt the warm of the mud, but didn’t get the promise of soothing heat. Once washed and dried we were giving a more traditional massage. One that we customized with a focused on our most troublesome areas. The heat from the mud is meant to penetrate deep into the muscle, preparing your body for the best massage result. A unique experience, but I don’t know if the mud really added anything.
Our time at the spa was limited. We would dip into and take minimum advantage of the above throughout our stay. Because truth be told, if you are paying for a penthouse, you are going to enjoy that space a lot more. Plus, we were more keen on treating the resort itself as a getaway. In fact my my girlfriend booked us the girl’s weekend package. It included a “Sparkling Hills” branded tote bag and water bottle. Gifts placed on our bed, along with our robe, slippers, and towel for the spa. They also placed a couple of chocolates and a card acknowledging my birthday, upon her request.
This package also came with two complimentary drinks at their cafe/bar: “Barrique & Java Dining; and a 3 course dinner for two at the only restaurant, “PeakFine”. The latter also served as the space for the complimentary breakfast buffet, available to all resort guests.
For more about all the food and drink we had, click the link for part 2 of our time at “Sparkling Hill”.
888 Sparkling Pl, Vernon, BC V1H 2K7