The nice warm weather is finally making an appearance in the Okanagan, which means my travel bug is itching. Like most people, when the sun is out, that's when I want to get away and explore the world the most. I want to eat out, go for walks by the water, and stay up late with a glass of wine in hand.
With the pandemic and travel restrictions still in place, a getaway or vacation seems like a distant possibility. Or is it? Last weekend, I had the most beautiful reminder that there is no place like home, especially when Kelowna is home.
Walking into the Cove Lakeside Resort with nothing but my overnight bag and Benji, my little Yorkshire Terrier, felt like a scene from a chick-flick. I must have had the biggest smile under my mask, greeting other guests with their furry friends. I don't remember when was the last time I travelled this light and could bring one of my pups with me. One of the hurdles we encounter as pet owners when looking for accommodations is finding pet-friendly and kid-friendly hotels. It's usually one or the other, making it challenging to plan getaways with the entire family. Although this time, it was just us two, this is just one of the many reasons I loved my stay.
The original plan was to drop my bags and go for some wine tasting as soon as I got to my room. But, that quickly changed when I walked into one of the most welcoming rooms I have been in since the beginning of the pandemic. With the stunning view of Okanagan Lake and the chilled bottle of Quails' Gate wine waiting for me, I decided to put my feet up and enjoy the quiet time before heading for dinner.
If you haven't been to the newly expanded Mt. Boucherie Estate Winery, I urge you to do so. The tasting room's setting and the overall feel are fantastic, but their restaurant, The Modest Butcher, is what stole my heart. I wasn't sure what to expect walking in there, but as soon as I pulled open the doors, it felt like a Friday night. The ambience set the tone for a great night with delicious food.
First things first, I needed a drink. I had heard great things about their cocktails and drinks, so I was comfortable asking the server to ''surprise me'' with a sweet drink to start. Their menu is mouthwatering; my favourite starter had to be the cauliflower fritters. The portion, flavour, everything was so good. I may try (and fail) to recreate this at home. To finish, I treated myself to a surf and turf, ribeye and lobster, paired with their delicious Pinot Noir.
As I took the short 10-minute drive back to my hotel, I recall the little welcome kit that included bath necessities will Eco-Boutique products and decide a warm bath is in order. Eco-Boutique is a sustainable line of cosmetics that combines recycled packaging materials with products made of eco-friendly formulas. With a crisp mimosa-inspired scent and a gentle texture, their products are made with 100% organic Aloe Leaf extract. I was pleasantly surprised that the hotel makes the effort to bring in environmentally conscious products. Another point in my book!
After a soothing bath, I found myself book in hand, a glass of wine at arm's length, and some soft music playing as Benji and I fell asleep to the sound of water lapping on the shores of Okanagan Lake outside our window.
Waking up without an alarm was probably the highlight of my stay. Not kidding. I'm usually up early in the morning and get going with my daily routine. Not having somewhere to be or something to do was the perfect way to start my day. To me, when I think of a getaway slow mornings are what I look forward to most. Of course, the room was equipped with a coffee machine and pods. Although breakfast in bed would have been nice, I already knew what I craving I was going to satisfy. Before I get to that, Benji and I needed to burn some calories.
The Cove has a lovely walking path along the water for their guests to enjoy. When we got up that morning, it was a little windy, hence why we decided to wait it out a little longer before heading out. I had promised Benji a nice walk by the water, his favourite. After checking out, I parked at Rotary Beach Park, along the Gellatly Bay Waterfront and walked for a good hour. It was such a beautiful day, and we weren't alone craving some vitamin D. It was a couple of minutes drive from the hotel; if we were staying another night, we most likely would have walked the whole way. A few steps from the hotel, I spotted a park for kids, which would have been remarkable to stop at with my daughter. Another bonus in my book!
After some playtime and some need fresh air, it was time for me to put something in my tummy.
If you haven't heard of bannock, are you even from Kelowna? No, seriously. I had this delicious treat on my list of things to try for over a year, I can't believe it took me this long to have a taste finally. Kekuli Café is a locally owned restaurant that features Indigenous cuisine. They serve breakfast, lunch, and more. I wanted to end my staycation on a sweet note and I did just that! I opted for one bannock with cheese and another flavoured with saskatoon berries, combined with a tiger spice chai for breakfast tt was delicious and filling. I will most definitely recommend and continue to support this local gem.
I hope my short and sweet staycation inspires you to getaway close to home. We have so many great local businesses who want nothing more but to serve us. It doesn’t have to be complicated, matter of fact, my staycation was simple and that made it so much more enjoyable!
Laurence Rich is the owner of FleuRich Creations, a Kelowna-based floral design company. When she is not busy creating beautiful arrangements, Laurence is wine tasting and dining around the Okanagan, exploring the many little corners of the paradise surrounding us with her dogs Benji and Lola, husband Brian and daughter, Alaiya.