Spending time in nature has long been my favourite relaxation technique. That doesn’t mean I wouldn’t say no to a massage, however.
We recently discovered a place that combines nature and an outstanding spa experience, namely Sparkling Hill Resort, near Vernon, British Columbia.
Sitting atop of a granite bluff, Sparkling Hill Resort is surrounded by incredible natural beauty. On one side, it overlooks spectacular Okanagan Lake. On the other, the rolling hills and verdant terrain of Predator Ridge.
Layers upon layers of mountains encompass it all, with one of the most imposing being Terrace Mountain (1906m) to the resort’s southwest.
These vistas are just the beginning.
If you, too, have a love for nature and need an accelerated dose of relaxation, Sparkling Hill Resort is the place to be. Read on to discover more about this Okanagan Valley oasis.
Published April 2021. We stayed at Sparkling Hill Resort as part of a media trip with Tourism Vernon. This post features one affiliate link. If you make a booking via this link, we may receive a commission.
The Sparkling Hill Resort experience
Sparkling Hill Resort is a luxurious adults-only spa retreat, designed to restore mind, body and soul. Driving the curving road up to the resort makes the ‘hill’ part of the name clear, even if the ‘sparkling’ bit isn’t yet.
Entering the resort’s four story entrance atrium makes everything clear. 3.5 million Swarovski crystals bring the resort’s name to life, falling from the ceiling as chandeliers, set into doors and windows and even in place of flames in fireplaces.
It’s not just the public areas that are comfortably luxe. In the uniquely open plan guest rooms, a wall of glass offers gorgeous panoramic views of the mountains and lake. A two person bathtub sits in front of the window in every room – the perfect indicator that it’s time to relax!
The KurSpa is, undoubtedly, Sparkling Hill’s biggest draw and deservedly so. Located on the ground floor of the hotel, this luxurious 40,000 sq ft spa is the largest in Canada.
A sanctuary of wellness, this is a serene robe-only zone (one of my favourite dress codes). And it’s beautiful too, with soft lighting, enormous windows and crystal studded ceilings.
The concept of the KurSpa is based on the European principles of alternating between periods of hot, cold and rest with rehydration.
To that effect, there are eight themed steam and sauna rooms (each with a specific purpose in mind), two relaxation rooms and three pools plus a walk through Kneipp Hydrotherapy circuit.
Access to the above facilities is complimentary for all hotel guests. The KurSpa also offers over 100 different treatments and services, from massages and facials to scrubs, wraps and signature couples experiences.
Quite understandably, spa treatments book up fast so be sure to reserve as soon as possible.
Connecting with nature at Sparkling Hill
It’s easy to admire the beauty of nature at Sparkling Hill, both indoors and outdoors. With large, floor to ceiling windows found in almost every space throughout the resort, the surrounding landscape is a constant accompaniment to dining and relaxation.
In the KurSpa, the outdoor infinity pool looks directly out to Okanagan Lake, perfectly positioned for sunset. It’s also a lovely place to be at sunrise, as the light gradually filters through the mountain ranges.
It would be very easy to stay within the walls of the resort but if you go beyond, full nature immersion awaits.
Sparkling Hill hiking trails
There are four short hiking trails surrounding the main Sparkling Hill building, ranging from easy (green) to intermediate (blue) in difficulty:
- Falcon Point Trail – 1.4km
- Sparkling Loop – 1.2km
- Deer Trail – 0.8km
- Bobcat Trail – 0.9km
In addition to beautiful scenic viewpoints, there’s a chance to enjoy some additional solitude and look out for (and listen to) some of the 300+ species of birds that live and travel though this area.
All trails are dog friendly (leash required). Guided hikes are, BC restrictions aside, usually available year round through the KurSpa.
Predator Ridge hiking trails
Connected to Sparkling Hill by paved walking paths, you can also explore the neighbouring trails at Predator Ridge Resort. There are over 30km of well maintained multi-use paths here, many with outstanding viewpoints of Okanagan Lake.
Predator Ridge’s trail system continues all the way to the boundary of Ellison Provincial Park, where there are even more trails! Some even snake all the way down to the shore of Okanagan Lake.
For all of the details, head over to my dedicated Predator Ridge trails guide. If you only have time for one hike, I’d highly recommend the Okanagan Lake Lookout Loop (3km).
Dining at Sparkling Hill Resort
There are currently three ways to dine at Sparkling Hill Resort, with a fourth option currently under construction (November 2021 update, Gerni’s Farmhouse is now open!)
The PeakFine Restaurant is Sparkling Hill’s premier dining destination (reservation recommended). The large indoor space has been thoughtfully designed to showcase the sweeping lake views to as many guests as possible. In five visits, there was only one occasion in which we did not have a ‘front row’ seat.
PeakFine’s upscale menu is a celebration of local produce, incorporating as many BC and Canadian ingredients as possible. The presentation is elegant and each dish has a suggested wine pairing (again, predominantly local).
Though we found the food to be very good, it is the ambience that really shines here. It’s the ideal destination for a special occasion, whether you have anything specific to celebrate or not!
Barrique & Java
A floor below PeakFine is Barrique & Java, Sparkling Hill’s coffee bar and wine lounge. Though a smaller and more casual space, this café shares the same spectacular views at the elegant restaurant above.
Open from mid morning to late, Barrique & Java serves a varied mix of salads, soup, share plates and sandwiches plus delectable (and beautiful) house made pastries. If you go, the Tuna Tataki is a must!
Coffee is the drink of choice for much of the day, with Okanagan wines and spirits more prominent as the afternoon arrives. There’s happy hour too!
It is also possible to have a private dining experience in your guest room. The in-room menu is similar to PeakFine’s, with a choice of lunch and dinner options.
When we tried it out, our meals (or snacks in my case – truffle fries and an elegant cheese board) were delivered right on time and in perfect condition.
Not only is in-room dining great for quiet, post-spa relaxation, we enjoyed being able to spend more time enjoying the views and luxe comfort of our guest room.
Breakfast at Sparkling Hill Resort
Complimentary with every stay, breakfast is usually served as a hot and cold buffet in the PeakFine restaurant. The à la carte adaptation offers a choice of six tasty dishes (we tried all but one) with accompanying beverages. There is the option to pay extra for additional choices as well.
Robes and slippers are encouraged at breakfast and I can (happily) report about half of guests take up the opportunity.
If you have any dietary restrictions, just let the team know when booking a table or arriving at PeakFine or Barrique & Java.
We found the menus to be well marked and quite inventive when it came to vegetarian, vegan, gluten free and healthy options.
For example, the vegan ‘Scramble’ bowl is one of the best breakfast offerings I’ve eaten anywhere – fresh and healthy yet filling with lots of delicious textures and flavours. And I heard two others immediately ask their server what dish I had as soon as mine arrived!
Other things to do while staying at Sparkling Hill Resort
While there is more than enough to do (or not do, as per your personal choice!) at Sparkling Hill, if you feel the need to explore beyond the boundaries of the property, the options are varied.
From the front entrance of Sparkling Hill, mountain bikers have access to a number of multi-use trails at Predator Ridge as well as the extensive trail network at Ellison Provincial Park. All without getting in the car!
If it’s more of a cruise you’re looking for, head to the Okanagan Rail Trail. When finished, this multi-use path will run 52km from Coldstream, on the edge of Vernon, all the way to Kelowna (a 7km segment near Kelowna Airport is still in development).
A particularly picturesque section of the Rail Trail runs close to Sparkling Hill Resort, where it follows the shore of beautiful Kalamalka Lake. The nearest access is Kekuli Bay Provincial Park (20 minutes drive).
An alternative idea is to take the dedicated Bike Shuttle from Predator Ridge, which provides a drop-off in Coldstream and then a pick-up 3.5 hours later along the route.
The hills and lakes of the Okanagan were shaped by glacial retreat, which also left rich terroir perfect for grape growing. The Okanagan Valley is now BC’s premier wine region, with more than 100 independent wineries.
Sparkling Hill is located very close to Lake Country’s Scenic Sip Wine Trail, a collection of eight member wineries. This region is best known for aromatic and crisp white wines as well as lighter aromatic reds.
A short drive further south opens up access to 40+ wineries in the Kelowna area. The easiest (and most fun) way to go wine tasting is with a dedicated tour company such as Elite Mile or Cheers Okanagan. Besides taking all the hassle away, it also means that no-one has to be the designated driver!
Craft whiskey, gin and mead
In addition to the local Lake Country wineries, Vernon has a number of other craft producers to check out.
BC’s original craft distillery, family owned and operated Okanagan Spirits, is a must visit if you like a tipple or two of whisky (the bourbon style was our favourite).
Also family owned and operated, the hand-crafted honey wines at Honeymoon Meadery range from traditional, minimalist meads to addictive tastes-like-apple-pie varieties (seriously).
If golf is more your thing, then you’re in luck – next door neighbour Predator Ridge is one of Canada’s best golf resorts. There are two award winning courses, with 36 holes of championship golf on offer.
Vernon hiking trails
The city of Vernon is home to even more fantastic hiking trails, with my top picks being the Middleton Mountain Loop and the Turtle Mountain section of the Gray Canal Trail. Both offer fabulous views over Vernon itself, as well as lake panoramas.
For all of the details plus more recommendations, check out my dedicated Vernon hiking trails guide.
Sparkling Hill Resort is an excellent year round destination. In fact, I’d even say that winter is a particularly perfect time to go!
While the surrounding landscape is blanketed in snow, you can still swim in the heated outdoor infinity pool, dine with a view in the PeakFine restaurant and get cosy in your hotel room in the evening.
Winter also brings the opportunity to go skiing at the world class ski resorts surrounding Sparkling Hill. Cheers Okanagan Tours runs a daily shuttle to Silver Star and can also organise charters further afield to Big White and beyond. If the sky is the limit, it’s also possible to organise heli-skiing through Valhalla Helicopters.
How to get to Sparkling Hill
Sparkling Hill Resort may have an idyllic setting but is still surprisingly accessible.
Situated at the northern end of British Columbia’s beautiful Okanagan Valley, Sparkling Hill Resort is just a quick ten minute detour from Highway 97.
The city of Vernon is only twenty minutes away to the north. The closest airport is in Kelowna, a 30 minute drive south.
Sparkling Hill is an ideal weekend destination from Vancouver, a five hour drive (450km) via the Coquihalla Highway (5).
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