Contributing Writer, Jorden Hutchison
Each spring, I take off for a few nights with my closest friends for our annual girls’ getaway.
A few years ago, we booked a trip to Osoyoos, and we were so delighted that we’ve decided to return every year! We plan our visit for May or June, to take advantage of the warm and sunny weather while avoiding the summertime crowds. With sparkling lakes, sweeping mountain views, cool desert terrain, and an incredible food and wine scene, it’s no surprise that we continue to come back for more.
Here’s a look at the itinerary from our latest stay:
Check-In After driving the stunning five-hour route from Vancouver to Osoyoos along the Crow’s Nest Highway (Highway 3), we checked-in at Watermark Beach Resort. With a variety of accommodation options in the area, this is our favourite place to stay. We love the resort’s beachfront location right along Osoyoos Lake, and its central setting in downtown Osoyoos (which provides easy access to all of the nearby shops, restaurants, and markets). We’re also big fans of the condo-style accommodations. We always take advantage of the plentiful local produce and meats available along the drive to Osoyoos, which we then enjoy at our annual BBQ feast on our private patio overlooking the lake.
Wellness At the onsite Breathe fitness studio, Watermark offers a wonderful wellness program. Each time I stay here, I take advantage of booking a lakeside yoga class – it’s incredibly relaxing, and oh so soothing. Set on the resort’s soft grass, the views of Osoyoos Lake and the desert hills of Anarchist Mountain are incredible from every pose. The yoga class is suitable for all levels, and the experienced instructors will gladly modify the movements for more advanced participants. Classes run throughout the morning (beginning at 7am), and are a wonderful way to greet the day. (Not a morning person? Take advantage of Breathe’s moonlight yoga class!)
We opted for the 8:30 class, which left us energized with plenty of time for more healthy fun! We rented some of the resort’s stand-up paddleboards and took a self-guided tour up and down the lake. Tip: paddle over to the Spirit Beach Cantina, opposite the resort – it offers a great atmosphere, and the tacos and margaritas are delish.
Exploring Wine Country One of the reasons we continue to come back to the region is because there are more than 40 wineries in Oliver and Osoyoos, alone! With a fairly solid understanding of wine, my friends and I were interested in a more advanced and behind-the-scenes tour. We heard about Vine to Wine Tours from the Watermark concierge team, and we had the best time. Our guide, Ron Rocher, who is also a fully-trained sommelier, is not only extremely informative but also an absolute blast. Along the way, we visited four boutique wineries, and at each stop, Ron told us all about the region’s terroir and vinification process, while also introducing us to a number of the local winemakers. But it’s his passion for the region and fun nature that truly made it an experience we’ll never forget.
Tuscan Delights and Epic Views After the tour (and a few hours of rejuvenation at Watermark’s lakeside saltwater pool), we made our way back to Oliver for dinner at Terrafina at Hester Creek by Raudz. I had heard all about the Tuscan-style restaurant’s stunning patio, and, with sweeping views of the Golden Mile Bench and surrounding 105-acre winery, it did not disappoint. We decided to opt for family-style dining; we started with the make-your-own charcuterie board, followed by the crispy pork belly carbonara, potato truffle pizza and chicken pepperoni pizza, and a Caesar salad with smoked bacon and anchovy dressing. Yum!
Stretching Our Legs With all of the delicious food and wine we were enjoying, it was time to get some much-needed exercise. We were told about a fantastic hike in Oliver known for its majestic views and moderate climb, and so we took off for the 30-minute drive. In addition to being one of the most gorgeous hikes I’ve ever taken, Nʕaylintn (formerly Mcintyre Bluff) is a cultural site rich in indigenous history, and a place of worship for the local Osoyoos Indian Band. The trip to the summit and back took us three hours (including all of our stops for photos). The bluff’s 10 km, gradually ascending hike begins and ends at Covert Farms (an organic farm-meets-winery) in nearby Oliver. It goes without saying that after our hike we parked ourselves on the tasting room patio and ordered a wine tasting and charcuterie board.
Time for Some R&R. After returning to the resort, a few of us treated ourselves to some spa services. Located at Watermark, Levia Spa is known for offering unique and holistic treatments that combine natural minerals and fresh, home-grown herbs –like lavender, rosemary, mint, and sage– with Himalayan salt and organic raw sugar. A couple of the ladies opted for organic garden facials, while I went for the herbal mani and pedi.
Chef’s Table In-Suite Dinner As a self-proclaimed foodie, one of my favourite activities of the weekend was Watermark’s Chef’s Table In-Suite Dinner. Executive Chef Adair Scott arrived to prepare a multi-course feast for us, right in the comfort of our own villa. The menu changes daily, and features local, grass-fed, hormone-free and ethically farmed meats, Ocean Wise-certified seafood, and organic fruits and vegetables grown at nearby farms –all expertly paired with Okanagan wines by the resort’s resident sommelier. For this dinner, our table enjoyed a marinated heirloom beet salad, dry-aged meatballs with toasted focaccia and goat gouda, halibut fillet with wilted kale and lemon, and a chocolate torte with fresh local raspberries. It was such a treat, and also extremely reasonably priced.
Homeward Bound. Our final day was, as always, bittersweet, as we regretfully said goodbye to this beautiful South Okanagan paradise. We made our way back to Vancouver, full of happy memories, delicious food, and plenty of amazing, sunny excitement. We had the most incredible weekend away together (again!), and on the drive home, we were already making plans for next year’s visit…