Sunday, October 11, 2015

A weekend at Predator Ridge and Sparkling Hill Resort

A couple of years ago we were given at a Vancouver charity gala, a complimentary night stay at the upscale Sparkling Hill Spa Resort near Vernon . We never used it.  But many of our friends did, and raved about the place. So last weekend, we decided to check it out and also see how our electric car would perform on a longer trip.
With a range of 420 km, the car could not make it all the way on a single charge, but the dashboard advised us to stop at the Tesla supercharging station in Hope. Yes, Hope. And it all worked out just fine...although I was a bit perturbed when driving along the Coquihalla at a fairly aggressive speed, a small message often appeared saying "Slow down to reach your destination". So I did.

The Sparkling Hill Resort is very impressive, and I can highly recommend it to anyone who wants a relatively nearby get away for a special weekend.... especially if you would like to experience a European-inspired health spa, and/or great golf. The resort is located on the grounds of the Predator Ridge community, now owned by Wesbild. I was told to look out for Randy Zion, since he's often around, although he wasn't around this weekend. However, on Paul Rosenau's suggestion (Paul was involved in the concept planning and approvals) I did meet up with Hans-Peter Mayr, the General Manager & CEO of Sparkling Hill Resort, an elegant Austrian gentleman who is extremely proud of what his facility has to offer. You can learn about the resort here  http://www.sparklinghill.com/
We arrived after dark and there were a lot of sparkles in the room, although I was confused by the hinged mirror above the TV. That's a free standing bathtub in the corner.

The early morning view from our room
You can have a choice of room sizes and views...either overlooking the lake, which most prefer, or overlooking the golf courses (which suited us just fine). The rooms are very well appointed, although I couldn't figure out why there was a hinged mirror on the wall above the TV. The large bathroom is beautifully designed with a two sided walk-through shower from which you have a beautiful view. There's also a free-standing bathtub.  What distinguishes the room, and the entire resort for that matter, are the Swarovski crystals that are everywhere...millions of dollars worth!
There are lots of delightful details around the resort, including this washroom sign.

The spa comprises 40,000 sq.ft. and the website claims it is the largest in Canada. While we did not take full advantage of the facility, we did use the indoor and outdoor pools, whirlpool, and many steam rooms and saunas (The steam rooms and saunas are European-style from 9 to 10 in the evening.  If you don't know what that means, I suggest you find out!)
The outdoor pool was very warm and lovely for an early morning swim.
The resort prides itself on its food. I must say the buffet breakfast that was included in the price of the room was excellent. However, we had mixed experiences in the dining room, and the more casual bar/lounge/cafe. Having had a late lunch in Hope while charging the car, we decided to go to the bar/lounge the first evening. While the wine list is good, the menu is much too limited. Everyone with whom we spoke had a similar complaint. The next night we ate in the main dining room which is lovely and elegant. The menu offers broader choices but we were disappointed with our starters and one of the desserts. The beef dishes we had for our main course were very good, and the service was excellent.

On the golf course we met up with a delightful couple from Vancouver who complained that they found the food too salty, something you would not expect in a resort that focuses on healthy living. (Coincidentally, we had exactly the same complaint when we ate at the restaurant at Predator Ridge.)
I did check comments on TripAdvisor, which were very mixed. I attribute this in part to the broad range of clientele that the resort attracts. Notwithstanding some criticisms, I think the resort is well worth a visit. While it is not as beautiful when viewed from the distance as it might be, it is very attractive inside, with beautiful detailing, such as the large European-style sliding glass window wall.
The view from our Predator Ridge unit
The last night we stayed at the Predator Ridge resort. It is much more like a Whistler resort with more conventional but well-appointed studio and one bedroom suites. However, it was very comfortable and it was nice to look out over the golf course.
This was my first visit to Predator Ridge in many years and since I was there they have added the Ridge Course. The two courses are surprisingly different, with the Predator Course much more like a dessert course, while the Ridge Course takes you through the trees and around some lakes. Both are very good, and extremely good value this time of year. Here are some pictures.
New fractional ownership units at Predator Ridge...note the separate garage for golf carts
It's not often I come across a turtle on a golf course fairway, but you'll find some at Predator Ridge
Some of the many condominium units overlooking the Ridge Course










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