As soon as you walk into a guest room at Sparkling Hill Resort, it’s easy to see why Austrian billionaire Gernot Langes-Swarovski fell in love with the location. The contemporary design of the room and the floor-to-ceiling glass transports you into a mesmerising panorama dominated by Lake Okanagan and stretching as far as the eye can see. The Swarovski wellness retreat in British Columbia is a contemporary crystal palace that magnifies the wild beauty of BC’s mountains and lakes.
Where is Sparkling Hill Resort?
Sparkling Hill sits on a granite ridge on the edge of Lake Okanagan in the Okanagan Valley. The nearest town, Vernon, is a 20-minute drive away. If you are a skier or snowboarder, you’re likely to be familiar with Silver Star Mountain Resort, which is less than an hour away.
Sparkling Hill is surrounded by beautiful lakes, provincial parks, cheese farms, apple orchards and wineries. The view from your window might give you the impression you’re in a remote location but Sparkling Hill is not that far from the city.
It’s about a five-hour drive from Vancouver and there are daily flights to Vernon from several cities, including Vancouver, Toronto, Whitehorse, Victoria, Seattle and San Francisco. Jetsetters have the option of landing a private jet at Shell Aerocentre, or you could arrive by helicopter (Sparkling Hill has two helipads).
How many crystals are there?
There are Swarovski crystals everywhere you look. Think crystal-studded doors and walls and chandeliers and crystal maple leaf-shaped chandeliers in the ballroom. In fact, 3.5 million Swarovski crystal elements form part of the interior design.
Waterfalls of crystal cascade from the ceiling and the warm crystal embers glow in the fireplaces of each guest room. The most eye-catching piece is a massive and crystal chandelier hanging in the lobby.
The crystal-inspired interior design of this Lake Okanagan resort is like a mirror that reflects the power of the surrounding landscape.
Formal or relaxed?
Being owned by a high-society European family (check out wedding photos of heiress Victoria Swarovski), you might imagine a resort with the opulent grandeur of the Ritz.
The vibe at Sparkling Hill is quite the reverse. Actually, the ambience is so relaxed that guests are encouraged to come for breakfast in the hotel’s dining room wearing bathrobes. That’s exactly what I did. I leapt out of my bed on the first morning, threw on my bathrobe and shuffled down to the dining room in my white slippers and didn’t feel one bit out of place.
Is the view really impressive?
The view is to die for. Sink into an armchair by the window and put your feet up. The landscape around the resort doesn’t have the in-your-face vertical mountain ranges of the Canadian Rockies. However, the Monashee Mountains has an ethereal beauty that lulls you into a trance.
What about the rooms at Sparkling Hill?
There are 149 guest rooms and three penthouses decked out with sparkling Swarovski crystal. From the fireplaces to crystal light fixtures and starry ceilings, the rooms are crystal chambers of style.
Floor-to-ceiling window walls are like giant sheets of magnifying glass that fill the room with eye-popping views of Lake Okanagan and the Monashee Mountains.
The design of the hotel is centered around the view and you can soak it up from an armchair, lying on the bed, in the bathtub or the shower.
What’s special about Sparkling Hill Spa?
The Sparkling Hill spa is a huge drawcard and access to facilities at KurSpa is included in the standard room rate.
With seven aromatherapy saunas and steam rooms and an “Igloo”, this is an impressive spa by any standards.
Listen to underwater music while floating in the indoor pool or lie on your back and stare at the starry Swarovski crystal sky. Or swim in the outdoor pool under a real Canadian sky.
There’s also a hot pool, Kneipp water therapy course, Tea and Serenity Relaxation Rooms and a Keiser-equipped fitness studio. As Sparkling Hill is a European wellness spa, there’s a “European hour”, when bathing suits are optional.
What are the steam rooms like at Sparkling Hill?
There’s a circuit of steam and sauna rooms, from the cushioned seats of the Aqua Meditation Sauna (30°C) to the Scandinavian-style sauna (up to 110°C) with its timber benches and Michelangelo-inspired ceiling. Each steam room or sauna has a different theme. Of course, there’s the Crystal Steam sauna (42°C) too!
To cool down, the Igloo (10°C) – with its white marble tiles and Swarovski crystal lacquered floor – is a bracing bath of crushed ice to rub all over your body (if you dare!).
What else can I do at Sparkling Hill?
Would you last three minutes in a room at -110°C wearing a bathing suit? The idea of the Cryo Cold Chamber treatment is to force the blood vessels to build a protection zone to give the nervous and circulatory systems a boost.
It’s so cold you need to wear socks and shoes, a protective head band, face mask and gloves. The treatment is surprisingly affordable. The introductory experience costs $45 and 10 treatments are $300.
Any other reason I should choose this BC spa?
If you’re looking for wellness treatments, then Sparkling Hill is the place to be.
Following the tradition of European wellness resorts, KurSpa clinic offers a menu of naturopathic, homoeopathic, Chinese acupuncture, botanical treatments and allergy testing.
There’s the Hotman Hemodynamic test to diagnose the cause of high blood pressure, Allya injections for joint inflammation, intravenous vitamin infusion injections and an anti-ageing programme.
Other intriguing treatments are the Intravenous Chelation Therapy to remove toxic heavy metals from the body and reduce plaque in the arteries and the Bio-Identical Hormone Balancing to identify and correct hormone imbalances.
Sparkling Hill Restaurant
Included in the tariff at Sparkling Hill Resort is a full hot breakfast buffet. PeakFine restaurant is also open for lunch and dinner and the chef sources ingredients from the farms and gardens of the Okanagan. There’s a cosy coffee bar Barrique & Java, which also serves wine and light healthy food in the evenings. And there’s a decent choice of winery restaurants in the region.
Is there anything else to do around Sparkling Hill?
British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley is the second largest wine producing region in Canada. The region has many excellent wineries offering vineyard tours and wine tasting. There are several quality restaurants with lovely views of Lake Okanagan nearby.
Take a leisurely drive in the countryside and visit lavender fields, farms and orchards.
If you’re short of time, a heli-wine tour ($3,960 per helicopter for four people) is a splendid way to get a taste of Okanagan wine country.
I’m an active traveller. Will I like it?
Yes, there are plenty of outdoor activities you can do at the resort or in the surrounding area. Hiking, fishing, golf and water sports are at the top of the list. There are over 1000 lakes in the Thompson Okanagan region, around 40 golf courses and plenty of nature trails to explore.
From Sparkling Hill, there’s 25km of nature trails and the resort offers daily guided hikes. The Okanagan Valley is home to over 300 species of birds, including bald eagles and red-tailed hawks. Mule deer, bighorn sheep and marmots can be seen in the wilderness.
One of North America’s top golf courses, Predator Ridge Golf Resort, is situated just below Sparkling Hill Resort. Okanagan Lake is an aquatic paradise, with a range of water activities such as parasailing, canoeing, kayak, and SUP (stand-up paddleboard).
Should I go to Sparkling Hill in winter?
Winter in British Columbia is spectacular. Sparkling Hill is a luxurious winter wellness base not far from Silver Star Mountain, which is a top spot for downhill skiing, snowboarding and cross-country skiing. BC’s third largest ski resort, Big White Resort, is a 90-minute drive away. Or you can opt for heli-skiing adventure trips in the Monashee Mountains.
Snowshoeing is a popular winter activity around the resort and après ski in KurSpa’s saunas, steam rooms and heated pools is pure bliss.
Is Sparkling Hill Resort expensive?
While this might sound like an expensive place, Sparkling Hill deals are surprisingly reasonable. The room rate includes access to the steam rooms, saunas and pools at KurSpa, fitness studio, Serenity Room and Tea Room, breakfast and wireless internet.
Sparkling Hill Resort is at 88 Sparkling Place, Vernon, BC, V1H 2K7, Canada.
The writer was a guest of Destination Canada and partners. For more ideas on where to go in Canada visit this site.
Thinking of visiting Canada? If you liked Sparkling Hill you may be interested in experiencing Scandinave Spa in Whistler. The hot and cold outdoor pools are a wonderful experience, especially in winter. Here are some insider tips on what to do in Whistler. For more places to visit in Canada in winter read this.