Charismatic Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau isn't the only thing drawing United States' visitors across the border. As we count down to Cleveland and the start of the Republican National Convention, both Democrats and Republicans alike are making the same inquiry:
Just how does one immigrate to Canada?
After visiting Kelowna, British Columbia, last month to taste wines from the Okanagan Valley, I thought about it a bit myself. The landscape is beautiful; the people are friendly, and the wine and food are both impressive and delicious.
It is difficult to capture the splendor of the Okanagan Valley in words or even pictures. It is breathtaking, as your commuter jet drops down from the clouds, through the mountains and lands in the largest community in British Columbia's interior. Less than 150 miles north of the US border state of Washington, Kelowna is located 240 miles from Vancouver and 360 miles from Calgary.
The climate is mild, with warm summers, cool nights and low humidity. Summer temperatures range from the mid 70s Fahrenheit to low 80s (20s Celsius) during the day to mid 40s to 50 F (8 to 10 C) at night. Typically there is little rainfall, but we had rain several times during our trip. But it was not the all day torrents we suffer in Houston, but more like the 30-minute shower every afternoon in Orlando.
Visitors can choose from a variety of accommodations in this charming waterfront community. As a guest of Mark Anthony Wine & Spirits to visit the von Mandl Family Estates, I stayed at the Delta Grand Okanagan Royal Private Residence Club. Privately owned luxury apartments, the Royal Private Residence Club suites sit adjacent to the main hotel. My nearly 1,200 square foot "Villa" featured three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a private balcony, living and dining area, laundry room and a fully equipped kitchen with subzero refrigerator, microwave, oven and stove, dishwasher and plenty of dishes, pots and pans to do your own cooking. Each bedroom includes an LCD television, and there is a 32" model wall mounted in the living room. Each bathroom is luxurious, and the master features a whirlpool tub. My room had a lakeside view from the large balcony patio. The hotel, built-in 1992, is smoke free and has daily housekeeping services. There is complimentary WiFi and a Casino on-site.
Royal Private Residence amenities include a Fitness Center, rooftop Infinity Swimming Pool and full Spa at the nearby Delta Grand. If you visit in the summer, it will run you about $500 US a night, with the current exchange rate. But if you book in the off-season, it is less than $300 per night.
The property is located in the heart of the Arts and Culture District, which features a myriad of boutique shops, restaurants and pubs including Tree Brewing Beer Institute, open seven days a week beginning at 11:00 a.m. Nearby, the Cactus Club Cafe at the Kelowna Yacht Club advertises "$4 Happy Hour," Monday through Friday, 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. That's $4 Canadian, which at the current exchange rate is just over $3.
Just a short walk away along the waterfront is a lovely park the City floods in the winter for free ice-skating. You can rent a Jet Ski if you fancy a skim on the lake.
Plenty of life vests are also available for use with boat and Watercraft rentals at the Downtown Kelowna Marina.
If you fancy a new tattoo, I'm told there are talented artists nearby.
A Foodie's Paradise awaits you
Several good restaurants featuring organic and local ingredients are just a short walk away. For a casual Sunday Brunch, we headed just past the park to Salted Brick Charcuterie and Restaurant. In addition to a case full of local cheeses, we enjoyed coffee and the featured skillet scramble.
For dinner our first night we met at RauDZ Regional Table, an upscale bistro that sources 92% from local producers, and features most of their wines by both bottle and by the glass. For my entrée I chose crispy pork cheeks; an off-menu special. Instead of dessert, I opted for a seasonal cocktail dubbed Laudanum Dream: Dark Horse Rye Whiskey, peated poppy-seed Falernum, Arlo's Honey, Lemon and saved espresso bean - delicious! This is a walk-in only restaurant, but GM Wesley Hunter was nice enough to set a table aside for our group.
Head away from downtown on foot, and you will find Waterfront Wines and dinner with more fresh, local produce. For dinner here, I chose Spinach, Ricotta and Potato-filled pierogis with smoked lentil, salt-baked onion, almond and arugula pesto. For dessert I opted for the cheese plate and a cocktail. There was so much cheese and bread, I had enough to take back with me and have it for breakfast! My delectable cocktail was the "Backhand of Bourbon" a concoction of Bulleit Bourbon, Backhand of God Stout, Lemon, Maple Syrup, Egg white and Angostura Bitters.
Plenty More to Do!
But what about the wine? While there is plenty to keep you busy in town, there is more to see and do just a short drive away. Stay tuned for Part II - Escape to Kelowna and beyond!