A Unique Oasis in an Elegant Resort
by Anne Rayvals
Contributor to Travelink Publishing
Our drive to Vernon from Vancouver on the Coquihalla Highway included glorious sunshine, views of snow-capped mountains and, at the higher levels, an interesting encounter with snow that completely surrounded us, seeming to move us to another time and space while we continued safely on a dry, clear road.
Lakeside Illahee Inn is not hard to find. From the turnoff at Okanagan University College Campus, Vernon, the LakeSide Illahee Inn signage is everywhere, guiding us easily to this spectacular place on Kalamalka Lake, one of the ten most beautiful lakes in the world, according to National Geographic. Illahee is a Salish word, meaning "a place where man and nature meet", an experience we felt the moment we arrived.
Tee, the friendly resident dog, greeted us at the door before we were welcomed inside. There are five exceptional guest rooms and suites, each with a balcony overlooking the lake and the rolling hills behind. There is a Grand Room and two lounges where guests can relax, plus meeting room facilities nearby. Kayaks and canoes are available for guest use at the Inn's large private beach, which adjoins a public one, and for an intimate, quiet stroll, there are pathways where wild flowers grow in profusion as well as a hot tub on a rock bluff looking out at the lake.
If you are searching for serenity, romance or a traveler's oasis, you're in the right place. The rooms are named for the wild flowers that grow at Illahee - Sagebrush Buttercup, Shooting Star, Nootka Rose. We chose the Shooting Star Suite where a king-sized bed with its magnificent duvet fills the centre of the room, while the pleasant sitting area, art work, balcony and marvelous view all add up to a feeling of luxury and relaxation.
In the morning we woke to the clamour of shore birds and I watched a bevy of baby ducklings paddling along the edge of the lake, making quiet little quacking sounds as they moved bravely along ahead of their mother. Further out, Canada geese called, their cries almost - but not quite - drowning out the musical trilling of songbirds. No traffic noises broke the tranquillity of this place and I felt a kind of euphoria as I watched the sun sparkle on Kalamalka Lake. I understood why Kalamalka means "the lake of many colours."
We enjoyed a lavish, beautifully prepared breakfast in the Grand Room. This room has Western cedar ceilings and is an enchanting place with bay-view log fireplaces and picture windows overlooking the multicoloured lake.
Illahee Inn is adult oriented except for Tranquillity Suite, and there is a no pet policy, although obviously animals are loved here - witness our friendly encounters with Tee.
If it's privacy you're after, you can arrange to take a trail ride up Monashee Mountain, just a short distance from Illahee Inn; you could go to the Hot Springs for a romantic overnight tour or you might arrange to kayak or have a boating adventure on the lake. Only thirty minutes away there is skiing at Silver Star Mountain and golf at four fine courses. Lakeside Illahee Inn is only minutes away from Predator Ridge Golf Complex, the site of the millennium Skin's Golf Tournament, and from Vernon Golf & Country Club. Or, do as we did and visit the Armstrong Cheese Factory and tour a winery. Right at Illahee's back door you can hike, mountain bike, picnic, cross-country ski or snowshoe. There is never a reason to be bored here.
And the numerous extras, from a thoughtful guest 'fridge just outside the rooms to the Inn's exceptional carvings, furniture and superb paintings, made us feel the first-class specialness of this place..... a wonderful retreat from madding crowd, with plenty of time for peaceful contemplation and simple togetherness.
If You Go:
Lakeside Illahee Inn
15010 Tamarack Dr.
Phone: (250) 260-7896
Fax: (250) 260-7826
Toll Free Reservations: 1-888-260-7896
Web site: www.illahee.bc.ca
Located halfway between Vancouver, B.C. , Banff National Park and Calgary, Alberta, and only 4 km. South of Vernon on Kalamalka Lake in the Okanagan Valley.
From Vancouver follow the Coquihalla Connector 97C leading to Merritt and to highway 97 and Vernon.
From Banff or Calgary, follow the Trans Canada Highway (Highway #1) to Sicamous and then Highway 97 South to Vernon.
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