Destinations

Explore British Columbia’s open spaces and epic scenery

Escape the city for some outdoor adventure in southern British Columbia

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Think of British Columbia and your imagination will no doubt conjure up images of seemingly endless lakes, mountains and forests, perfect for that much-needed escape from the stress of the past two years.

As a destination, Canada offers plenty of reassurance for anxious guests: since September 7, borders have been open to fully vaccinated visitors, and from October 30, all travellers of 12 years old and above using federally regulated air, rail or marine transport in Canada need to be fully vaccinated too.

That means clients can put their worries aside and concentrate on getting out and enjoying British Columbia’s open spaces and epic scenery once again, starting in flagship city Vancouver.

Urban adventures

Ringed by the ocean, protected by soaring mountains, bristling with urban forest and filled with gleaming glass skyscrapers, Vancouver offers the perfect blend of city and nature.

Decompress after the flight by booking a room with a view at the Fairmont Waterfront (the corner suites on the 23rd floor offer panoramic views overlooking Stanley Park, the North Shore mountains and calm waters of Vancouver Harbour). Covid protocols here include wearing masks indoors, plenty of hand sanitiser and limiting numbers in lifts.

“Take a run, hire a bike or just stroll and take in the fresh sea air while watching seaplanes take off and land.”

It’s ideally situated just steps from the start of the Seawall, the world’s longest uninterrupted waterfront walkway, which runs 17 miles through Stanley Park and around the city. Take a run, hire a bike or just stroll and take in the fresh sea air while watching seaplanes take off and land.

Head up to north Vancouver to explore the trails on Grouse Mountain with a self-guided eco-walk taking in First Nations architecture, grizzly bears in the Endangered Wildlife Refuge and stunning lookouts over the city and Georgia Strait.

Visitors can immerse themselves in the coastal rainforest of Capilano Suspension Bridge Park with its viewing platforms high in the forest canopy, or stay close to the hotel and unwind in Stanley Park to enjoy its beaches, tangled forest trails and breathtaking totem pole art.

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Unwind in the interior

Rent a car and take the four-hour scenic drive along the winding Crowsnest Highway from the flatlands of the farming communities around Vancouver’s lakes, sandy beaches and sun-drenched vineyards of BC’s southern interior, where a four-season outdoor playground awaits.

“If clients want to explore at a slower pace, don’t let them be daunted by the steep mountain roads of the region”

The Okanagan and Similkameen Valley both make for exciting destinations for cyclists and hikers: vast provincial parks, unspoilt wilderness and a superb network of trails for all abilities. The Kettle Valley Rail Trail is a decommissioned railroad that takes in trestles and tunnels, canyons, orchards and farmlands across just under 100 miles from Midway to Penticton. Tackle a section in a day or take a full week and pedal the whole trail. Though if clients want to explore at a slower pace, don’t let them be daunted by the steep mountain roads of the region – pick up an e-bike and cruise those hills with a smile.

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Make fresh tracks

Western Canada is rightly famous for its world-class ski and boarding slopes, but for guests looking for fewer faces and wide open spaces, the South Okanagan offers two excellent resorts that provide a boutique experience without compromising on terrain. Mount Baldy, just 35 minutes from Oliver, is the third-highest ski resort in BC, and gets between seven to 10 metres of powder snow each season. Ideal for families and focused on beginner to intermediate runs, guests can also cross-country ski and snowshoe in its famous champagne powder.

“Mount Baldy, just 35 minutes from Oliver, is the third-highest ski resort in BC, and gets between seven to 10 metres of powder snow each season.”

Apex Resort, just 30 minutes from Penticton, offers exceptional skiing with intermediate to advanced trails and more than six metres of ‘white gold’ powder each year. An early-season training ground for elite skiers and boarders, Apex offers a forest loop skating rink, tube park, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.

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Cabin culture

With no crowded lobby, elevator or shared corridors, what could be better for a stress-free stay than a rustic lodge? Seek out off-the-beaten-path accommodation at the Chute Lake Lodge and restaurant, between Kelowna and Penticton. It offers heated wooden cabins, glamping and yurts with wood fireplaces in rural isolation, with fishing, kayaking, rowing boats, e-bikes and snowshoe gear all available for hire.

Next, go further into the wild at Cathedral Lakes Lodge, Canada’s highest full-service hiking and fishing wilderness lodge near Quiniscoe Lake, 2,000 metres above sea level in the heart of Cathedral Provincial Park.

“With no crowded lobby, elevator or shared corridors, what could be better for a stress-free stay than a rustic lodge?”

Guests drive to base camp 30 minutes from the quaint fruit stand-packed town of Keremeos to be picked up in a 4×4 vehicle for the hour-long transfer to the lodge along a private road. Once there, choose from hiking along alpine trails, swimming in sun-warmed lakes or just enjoying the breathtaking views over the Coastal Range, North Cascades and Thompson Plateau. Then sleep soundly in a cedar wood-panelled cabin, lodge room or rustic bungalow. Self-catering or all-inclusive packages are available.


Ask the expert

Kemi Wells, founder and president, Wells Luxury Travel

“In the past few months, we have found that clients are leaning towards being in nature and that they prefer large open spaces. There is high demand for properties that have standalone accommodation or villas, so you don’t have to go through a hallway. Clients are looking for wilderness experiences, hiking and biking, with access to lots of nature trails for walking. That being said, the interest in great culinary and wine remains an important focus too, making British Columbia the perfect choice.”


Fast fact

Proof of full vaccination is required for a variety of businesses and services across BC, from indoor dining to theatres and cinemas. Wearing a mask is mandatory in all indoor spaces.


Find out more

apexresort.com
baldyresort.com
cathedrallakes.ca
chutelakelodge.ca
kettlevalleyrailtrail.com

PICTURES: Destination BC/Ben Giesbrecht, Matt Clark, Stirl and Rae Photo, Kari Medig; Pink Palm Studio


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