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Spirit Ridge Vineyard Resort and Spa

8/12/2009 12:00:00 AM

Tags: British Colubmia, retreat, spa, vineyard, resort

My kids and I spent last week exploring the beautiful Okanagan region of British Columbia. There was so much to see and do—from touring wineries to feasting on the prolific organic produce that’s grown there. We covered a lot of ground, and when we needed a place to rest and relax for a few days, we were thrilled to find Spirit Ridge Vineyard Resort and Spa in Osoyoos, a relaxed lakeside community just a few miles from the U.S. border. 

Spirit Ridge overview
Photo Courtesy Spirit Ridge Vineyard Resort and Spa. 

Set in the Great Basin desert, one of Canada’s three most endangered ecosystems, the resort faces environmental challenges—and I was happy to learn during my visit that it’s facing them head on. Landscaping is done with native desert plants, and the resort takes as much care of the native animals as it does of its guests. The area is home to a significant number of gopher snakes, rattlesnakes and two species of endangered bats. Besides monitoring snake activity, raising money for research programs and promoting wildlife education, the folks at the resort have also built a deflection fence and a safe crossing corridor for the snakes as well as a roost for the bats. In deference to both critters and guests, the pools at Spirit Ridge are filled with salt water, eliminating the use of chlorine. 

Spirit Ridge Resort
Photo Courtesy Spirit Ridge Vineyard Resort and Spa. 

Spirit Ridge is built on tribal land, as part of a special partnership with the First Nations Osoyoos Indian Band (OIB), or NK’MIP. The winery is the first aboriginal winery in North America, and the NK’MIP Desert Cultural Centre, located at the resort, is a fascinating introduction to Okanagan First Nations culture. The center offers on-site cultural tours and self-guided nature trails as well as rattlesnake research and tagging programs. And its gorgeous multi-colored rammed earth wall is a must-see for anyone interested in natural building. 

Spirit Ridge Pool
Photo Courtesy Spirit Ridge Vineyard Resort and Spa. 

Our villa was equipped with Energy Star appliances, low-flow fixtures and compact fluorescent lighting—as good as it gets. A new Wireless Energy Management System) could detect when my kids and I had left the room, so I didn’t have to worry (quite so much) that we’d left the lights on or the air conditioner running. Resort manager Mohamed Awad told me the system has helped Spirit Ridge cut its energy use by an estimated 25 to 30 percent. (I wish I had this at home!) 

Spirit Ridge Dinner
Photo Courtesy Spirit Ridge Vineyard Resort and Spa. 

“We’re the only resort in the south Okanagan that’s making this kind of green initiatives,” Awad told me. “And now other resorts are starting to follow suit.”

That’s something worth writing home about.

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