Summerland is part of what is set to be the Tuscany of Canada in 15 years. Nestled on the side of Okanagan Lake – a stunning 135 km long freshwater lake surrounded by Ponderosa Pines – it is a tiny community built on agriculture, and now vinoculture.
Summerland Waterfront Resort adds to this feeling of a hideaway – you exit the highway (one of the best commutes you could ask for by the way) and go down to water’s edge until you come across an Italian villa inspired building.
The lobby opens up with huge ceilings, light but meaty wood, great detail (our Beauty/Fashion editor Andrea Hill noticed the houndstooth sofas right away), and a fireplace. Think Tuscan farmhouse meets Whistler ski lodge. The rooms echo that aesthetic – big and airy and light, but warm and homey. Ours overlooked the lake, complete with a bbq on the deck and a bottle of bubbly in the fridge. Bubbly + fireplace = happy ladies.* *ladies = myself, our Okanagan rep, Colleen Bachmann, and our Beauty/Fashion editor, Andrea Hill.
Two nights here is the perfect getaway, and here’s why: Not only do the rooms feel like condos (of which there are some for sale next door by the way), there’s a fantastic restaurant and spa attached.
Local is a restaurant we’ve featured before, and we were thrilled to be there again just as their menu was changing over. Rabbit Terrine? Yes please. Owner Krista-Lee McWatters Bond greeted us after we’d received our cocktails (“Okanagan Airmails”) with an amuse bouche that embodies all this place is: upscale, but absolutely down to earth. A crisp prawn, set upright atop a tiny jam jar (you know the miniature ones I’m talking about that you get at restaurants?) full of sweet and sour squash froth with toasted coconut for dipping.
1. (seen here) seared scallops, pork belly confit, truffled apple emulsion, poached apples, smoked hazelnut crumble
2. fraser valley rabbit terrine, smoked grape skin mustard emulsion, pickled carrots, crisp tarragon
Timing is so important in a meal. I always long for the Italian (I know, I know, I have a bit of an Italian thing) cadence of antipasti, primi, secondi, dolci (still can’t do the cheese round) … and Local nails this vibe. Service is attentive, but not overbearing, prompt but not rushed, and the portions are just right.
We had cocktails, the amuse, the starters, and then, just before our mains, we had a taste test of two of the two meritages they offer from their family-owned vineyard: McWatters (the original) and their new addition to their winery family, TIME. Just after a sip came our mains, Grilled Beef Tenderloin with bubble and squeak, tarragon red wine braised carrots, and fried onions. Two words: butter knife. And once again, I love the upscale/down to earth combo of the steak piled high with onion rings. And Tuna Tataki, always a favorite melt in your mouth dish.
We leisurely walked back to our room in the cool fall night air,cozied in to our scrumptious duvet beds, and dreamt of our spa the next morning.
The Morning After: Brunch
We started with brunch at Local: they serve a great bourbon yogurt and granola mix in a tier of nesting clear glass bowls (see the photo in the GALLERY below), and a mean eggs benny. We ended the spa morning like any self-respecting group of ladies should: with mimosas and french fries.
Now – the spa. Beyond Wrapture has been around for years. I remember it from my Off-Centre Magazine days at its original location in Kelowna. Debra Pender, the original owner, is still there, and it shows. The overall atmosphere is always a reflection on the organization behind the scenes, and from the time you walk in the front door, you feel completely taken care of. We signed up for the vinotherapy massage.When in Rome, right? Megan, our massage therapist, was Parvati incarnate – one of the many-handed Indian goddesses; at times I thought she must have an assistant in the room. Andrea, our beauty editor raved about it, talking about how the wine made the lotion really sink in. Our Okanagan rep, Colleen’s favorite thing was the personal sauna (we caught her in there 1/2 hour later with a fashion magazine), and mine? The fact that Megan’s hands were like one of those metal finders on the beach. She magically found every knot in my body and took it out.
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