September 27th, 2016 marks the day Prince William & Princess Kate journey to Kelowna. Ironic since I’ll probably by strolling by Buckingham Palace that day on my UK Honeymoon. They’ll be paying a visit to my old stomping grounds, UBC Okanagan campus and Mission Hill Winery for a quick wine tasting before making their way to the Yukon. It might shock them to find that the Okanagan can certainly cater to the rich and royal alike. In fact, Kelowna can be a very expensive place but if you know how to do it right you too can feel like a royal. Provided that you’ve got the cash to back it up. But in any case you don’t here are tips to feel like a royal in Kelowna no matter your budget.
Mission Hill Winery
For royals: Mission Hill Winery is a first class winery with architecture inspired by grand Tuscan hilltop churches. It is also boasts a large wine cellar nestled deep within the extinct volcano it sits upon. If you’re a wine club member you can request for special events (not for free). Luckily I was able to experience this for my birthday with a special meal overlooking the Okanagan Lake.
For non-royals: Make a dinner or lunch reservation at Mission Hill Terrace restaurant. The charcuterie is by far one of the best in the entire Okanagan Valley. Wine tours are held daily but be sure to pre-book through my Resources page (Distinctly Kelowna Tours) or directly through the winery.
Kelowna by Air
Kelowna for royals: You can do wine tastings at some of the Okanagan’s most favoured wineries AND skip the traffic. How? By your own personal helicopter of course. Wine tastings range from $1500 – $4000 and include an entire helicopter to yourself with your choice of wineries and lunch. How very posh.
Kelowna for non-royals: While you won’t get the wine tastings via floatplane you can still get to experience some gorgeous views of the Okanagan. Floatplane tours range from $109 + per person depending on how far around the Okanagan you want to tour.
On Okanagan Lake
Kelowna for royals: It all depends on who you know in this town. Since the royals are heading to Mission Hill and probably meet owner of the winery (and millionaire from his Mike’s Hard Lemonade fortune) Anthony Von Mandl they can tour the Okanagan Lake on a yacht if they so choose.
Kelowna for non-royals: You don’t have to know a millionaire to feel like one on the lake. Luxury Lake tours are offered and they’ll even bring you to wineries located near the lake after you’ve had a chance to explore Kelowna’s cityscape from the water. Tours that include a 3 hour wine tour start at $160 per person with a minimum of 4 people.
Stay Like a Royal
For royals: Unfortunately Prince William & Princess Kate’s stay in only for a mere day trip. But if they were to stay I think they would book one of the three penthouse rooms at the Sparkling Hill Resort. Owned by the Swarovski family and located just outside of Vernon, it is probably the Okanagan’s most expensive accommodations catering to famous hockey stars and celebrities alike.
For non-royals: During the offseason you might be able to snag a regular room at the Sparkling Hill Resort. Good luck! It can be hard to do for under $250+ (off-season rate) and can reach $1100+ a night but all accommodations include the use of the luxury KurSpa. It belongs to the prestigious list of the world’s top 100 hotels so it’s something to cross off your bucket list. If you can’t afford the regular rates then you can stop by for lunch or dinner but reservations are highly recommended!
The Local Elixir: Ice wine
For royals: Ice wine is highly valued because it is so expensive to make. For every bottle of ice wine there are approximately 3 kilograms of grapes to make one bottle of ice wine. The grapes also have to be harvested when temperatures reach -8˚Celsius and must be certified that they were indeed picked at that time. These grapes also have to be left on the vine for longer so there’s more risk of losing the grapes to local animals and bad weather.
Bottles of ice wine can range from $80 to $300+ per bottle making it a special occasion when one is opened.
For non-royals: If you can’t afford a bottle of ice wine or simply don’t want to purchase an entire bottle many wineries such as Tantalus offer ice wine tastings. Some locations even sell miniature bottles of ice wine or you can find one within your budget at our local BC liquor stores.
Local blogger Dina of Olive Oil and Lemons created this amazing chocolate mousse made with local ice wine if you’re feeling adventurous and want to make a special occasion even more so.
But frankly I am not a huge fan of ice wine and when I want to feel like a royal I turn to local sparkling wine.