Friday, June 15, 2012

A Swarovski Hotel + Spa in Vernon, BC

Photo Credit - Ema Peter
The Okanagan Valley is one of my favourite places to visit, and even more so since the European-inspired, $122 million Sparkling Hill Resort in Vernon, BC, opened up two years ago. To call it sparkling is a huge understatement.

Funded by Gernot Langes-Swarovski, primary stakeholder of the Swarovski kingdom, the property is adorned with more than 3.5 million Swarovski crystals, gracing every surface from chair backs to banisters to the three giant lobby chandeliers. In fact, this locally christened “crystal palace,” featured recently on The Real Housewives of Vancouver, is the only public space besides the Swarovski showroom in Austria where such crystal architecture can be experienced. But it’s not only crystals that make this resort shine.
Crystal Steam Room, photo by Ema Peter
The main draw of the resort is actually its wellness offerings. The 40,000 sq. ft. KurSpa (kur means to heal in German) features pools, saunas, steam rooms, 48 treatment rooms, a fitness studio and a movement studio. Full to the brim, the spa menu offers a wide array of beauty and body treatments including fango—hot mud wraps.

Cold Sauna, photo courtesy of Sparkling Hill
KurSpa is also home to a -110°C cold sauna—the first in North America and the resort’s signature treatment. Known as Whole Body Cryotherapy and used throughout Europe, this shriek-inducing cold therapy can improve mobility and reduce chronic pain. Being pregnant at the time, I had to skip this human freezer, and went for a massage instead.
Serenity Room, Ema Peter
Afterwards, I parked myself on one of the cushy loungers in the aptly named Serenity room to take in the stunning views. Set atop a ridge looking out at the Monashee Mountains and Okanagan Lake, the resort’s 152 suites all have floor-to-ceiling windows to soak in the views—literally (the soaker tub sits next to the window). At night, flick on the crystal-studded ceiling for a starry-eyed surprise.
Photo courtesy of Sparkling Hill
All guests may use the KurSpa pools along with the fitness studio and seven aromatherapy sauna and steam rooms; each room is set at a different temperature and has its own scent or theme aimed at giving you a different wellness experience. 
Photo courtesy of Sparkling Hill
Add to that the friendly staff. No surprise since the man at the top, Hans-Peter Mayr, the Austrian brainchild behind this operation is without a doubt the most delightfully pleasant hotel GM and CEO I've ever encountered. He's quick to roll up his sleeves, wherever needed.

Sparkling Hill truly sparkles in every way possible!

Sparkling Hill Resort & KurSpa - Vernon, BC

Story and photos by Colleen Seto, unless otherwise indicated.

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