By Jennifer Cockrall-King
1. FAMILY: Take the roads less travelled
The area around Kelowna is a treasure trove of unique geological features and
ecological wonders. Most of them, however, are off the beaten path. This is where a
guide with more than 25 years of remote terrain reconnaissance and mineral exploration
experience comes in handy. Steve Noakes offers family and small-group
adventures in the B.C. backcountry through his GeoQwest Excursions Ltd. Groups from three to seven (the maximum
carrying capacity of his SUV) can choose from several half- to multi-day
“overland safaris. ” Meander along the Okanagan Valley’s western flank and try to
spot bighorn sheep, bobcats, deer and moose. Visit a former gold mine. Climb up
Terrace Mountain for sweeping vistas. Or do all of the above. Noakes is aware of the
impact of off-pavement vehicular travelling, so he posts his backcountry driving
ethics on his website, and environmental education is always part of the package.
Trips start at $200 per person per day, minimum three guests.
2. ADVENTURE: The weather’s fine up here
What a difference a little elevation makes. While springtime in
Kelowna conjures thoughts of tee times and tastings at world-class
wineries, 56 kilometres away, up a winding mountain road, it’s
still all about the snow. Every year, Big White Ski Resort receives
7.5 metres of fluffy, dry “Champagne powder, ” perfect for spring
skiing. With 118 runs and more than 3,000 hectares of terrain,
there’s something for everyone at Canada’s largest totally ski-in,
ski-out resort. Watch for the signature “snow ghosts ” that haunt
the upper runs — stunted alpine trees encased in glistening snow and ice. Beyond snowboarding, skiing and slope-side tubing, there’s a smorgasbord of
other alpine activities, from dogsledding to snowshoeing,
nearby. But you may also want to spend time shopping or dining in the village. Just watch out
for the skiers and boarders on Main Street!
3. BUSINESS: Wine — not just for drinking anymore
With Kelowna the epicentre of the Okanagan’s booming wine industry, it’s no surprise
that an oenologically inspired stress-buster is one of the valley’s most exotic spa treatments.
Start with an invigorating 30-minute grape-pip-and-honey scrub that uses local,
organic grape seeds and skins to exfoliate and detoxify winter-toughened skin. Still
slathered in a temptingly delicious scrub, spend a few minutes in the sauna for full effect.
Then you are swaddled in an hour-long wrap treatment with more honey and wine, while
getting a soothing face and scalp massage. Finally, choose a red- or white-wine infused
lotion for a 75-minute “vinotherapy ” massage and melt into total Okanagan bliss.
Beyond Wrapture’s Timeless Eternity Vinotherapy package costs $328.