This postcard-perfect lake town is nestled in Canada's Okanagan Valley, home to more wineries than Walla Walla and better snow than Whistler. And you found it first.
Author Jacqueline Detwiler Photography Michael Hanson
DAY TWO Your legs are screaming from yesterday’s powderfest, so you skip the hill and sleep in awhile before strolling over to Santé for a leisurely breakfast of eggs Benedict with smoked salmon and capers. After that, you’re off to see a man about 31 dogs.
The man’s name is Tim, and the dogs are Alaskan huskies. As the proprietors of Candle Creek Kennels, Tim and wife Kerry have adopted a passel of mutts that didn’t quite make Iditarod teams, in addition to other unwanted sled dogs from all over British Columbia. While Tim selects the dogs for today’s ride, it becomes clear that the energetic pups still really enjoy pulling sleds, Iditarod or no. They hop on top of their doghouses, bark, roll around on the ground and chomp mouthfuls of snow. Once roped in, the eight lucky winners pull you on a zippy 3-mile loop through a solemn pine wood—and even pose for pictures before you grudgingly take your leave.
On your way back to the gondola, you can’t help but notice what looks like a 60-foot, powder-blue frozen waterfall. You stop into a nearby warming shed to ask what it’s for, and find yourself quickly outfitted with crampons, a harness and a pair of pickaxes. Jim, a certified climbing guide with almost four decades’ experience, hooks you into a top rope as he informs you that this is Big White’s Ice Climbing Tower. “Just, uh, climb it?” you say, and Jim nods as if scaling a six-story column of ice is the easiest thing in the world. Ten agonizing minutes later, you actually reach the top and, with your pickax, ring a small bell that hangs there. You think your back may punish you for this later, but you’ve earned some mighty impressive pictures.
To celebrate, you take the gondola to Globe, a petite tapas joint known for having the best coffee on the mountain. There you scarf down a sandwich of Italian charcuterie followed by a set of s’mores, which arrive alongside a flame for roasting the house-made marshmallows.
In a sugary fog, you bid farewell to Big White and drive down into the town of Kelowna itself, where you check into the lakefront Hotel Eldorado. Your room reminds you of a boathouse, with antiqued wood floors, cozy cream linens and the occasional paddle mounted on the wall. Still a bit chilled, you’re immediately drawn to the programmable whirlpool tub in an alcove with waterfront windows (covered with white wooden slats, adjustable for privacy). Dinner, you decide, can wait an hour.
OK, maybe a little more than an hour. You eventually amble downtown to Waterfront, a restaurant and wine bar whose chef, Mark Filatow, is one of the few in Canada who are also members of the prestigious Sommelier Guild. With his help, you order a round of creamy Pacific oysters, braised pork-stuffed ravioli in white wine and pancetta cream, and a buttery duck breast with mushroom and spaetzle sauté paired with glasses of spectacular local riesling and pinot noir. A waiter arrives with a dessert menu, but—after two days of skiing, ice climbing and dogsledding—you’re spent. You head back to the hotel and reluctantly close the slats.