Summerhill Estate House

There are plenty of good reasons to go wine tasting in the Okanagan in October.  For starters:

The wine is always good no matter what month you decide to visit, but come October and over the Fall/Winter in general it’s much easier to book accommodation as the wineries are less busy with everyone back to work and back to school.  So may I suggest a not so little gem of a place to stay…Summerhill Pyramid Winery Guest House (shown in photos on this page).  Not only is it amazingly spacious with a view to die for, but the winery + bistro is adjacent to the guest house.  A hop, skip and a roll home away.

That’s what I’m talking about!

For booking availability please contact:

estatehouse@summerhill.bc.ca

In the meantime…

Thanksgiving Wine-Care Pack

Five wines to pair with your feast plus an extra-special bottle for dessert!
Thanksgiving Wine-Care Pack

 

 

 

 

Feel-good Friday: Have Dog; Will Travel

Because travelling with dogs can sometimes be a pain for finding overnight accommodation.

La Quinta Inn & Suites – now owned by Wyndham  are reliably dog friendly, clean, comfortable, cost-effective, all no-smoking rooms, free Wi-Fi, continental breakfast (sometimes full depending where you stay) and friendly service.

OK let’s be honest, while The Four Seasons it is not; your dogs probably won’t notice the difference well Layla might and if you’re looking just to overnight on your way to let’s say Palm Springs when the border finally opens and you want a very comfortable bed and a no-charge fee for your pooches – this is the place.  If you’re a member you can receive regular room upgrades to larger suites which is what I usually take advantage of. I’ve also stayed at Best Western Plus and the only difference is that they charge for your pets and have a bit more on the menu in the morning.  I don’t know about you but none of these breakfasts at either place are my cup of tea.  A coffee and yogurt to get me going is usually sufficient and a stop somewhere along the drive for something more substantial is the norm.

Here are a few properties that I can vouch for: La Quinta in Eugene, Oregon is completely revamped with indoor pool, gym and you’ll find the Willamette River right outside the door with a great green space for walking your furry friends.  Or if you have time you can run or bike along the many miles of trails.  It’s very pretty and peaceful here.

La Quinta in Redding, Ca, off the Cypress exit on I-5 in Shasta County. Located near the Sacramento River where you can explore National Recreation Areas within a five minute drive to Whiskeytown or the scenic world-renowned Sundial Bridge.  They have a fitness center, outdoor pool and breakfast. Plus a little courtyard to walk pets and enjoy a coffee before taking off.

If you absolutely must overnight in Bakersfield, all I can tell you is to make sure you stay at the La Quinta at the North end of the city (not the South end god help you).

For booking:

https://www.wyndhamhotels.com/en-ca/laquinta

Am I being too optimistic?  Perhaps! 

Have a great weekend anyway

Sunshine Coast, BC.

As summer sadly slips away...we decided to soak up the remaining rays with a perfect little getaway to Sechelt on the Sunshine Coast.  As their website says, Sechelt is as laid-back as it is scenic, full of artists, and surrounded by mountains.  That it is!

Coming into Gibsons from the ferry.  A short drive to Sechelt from here.  Photo:  d. king

 September tries its best to have us forget summer. – Bernard Williams, Philosopher.

Layla and I were kindly invited by a Vancouver friend, who along with her husband, just finished building a second home in the area.

With Janice & Layla at Davis Bay where we walked along the shore.

It’s all scenic from here. Even though it’s a short drive from Vancouver to the ferry in Horseshoe Bay, then a short ferry ride over to the coast, it had been a long time since my last visit.  Long overdue actually.

Horseshoe Bay. Photo: d. king

Since covid it appears that many people are exploring regions closer to where they live and re-discovering places they’ve not visited for some time.

In British Columbia we’re surrounded by beauty with a surplus of outdoor activities to take advantage of.

Photo: d. king
Photo: d. king

 In Sechelt we walked along the rugged coast, visited a sandy beach, did two hikes, went to a local pub on the water for dinner, met some artists, hung out at home and laughed a lot.  We also visited a longtime friend of mine who relocated there recently and lives with a talented artist.  The vibe they made in their home is splendid.

Watching the boats & float planes at Lighthouse Pub. Photo: d. king
All Decked Out. Photo: d. king

On the last day we drove to Pender Harbour and hiked Skookumchuck Narrows, a popular attraction where the powerful rapids and whirlpools of the changing tidal waters can be seen that flow between two inlets –  Jervis Inlet and Sechelt Inlet. Layla did the hike with us as it was not very hilly.The trail is about 8km roundtrip and passes through a scenic west coast rainforest before reaching the viewpoints at either North Point or Roland Point. These rapids are a fairly unique occurrence as the water flow can reach speeds of 30km/h as about 200 billion gallons of water passes through the narrows during a tide change.  

Sechelt Rapids – the reversing tidal rapids, famous for their spectacular whirlpools and whitewater, are considered among the fastest in the world.  Current speeds during large tidal exchanges can exceed 16 knots (30 kph).

On the advice of a friend/photographer we had to stop and eat a cinnamon bun from the local Skookumchuk Bakery & Café.  You cannot help but notice the bakery either at the beginning or end of your hike.  Everything at the bakery is made from scratch using fresh local ingredients.  The bun came fresh out of the oven and it was to die for.

Outside the Bakery. Photo: d. king
A stopover at Ruby Lake Resort , Madeira Park. Photo: d. king

If you want to know more, the following was taken from the Sunshine Coast official website:

Getting to Sechelt is just a 40-minute ferry ride from West Vancouver, followed by a 27km/17mi drive up Highway 101.  Sechelt is the name of a town, a peninsula, an inlet, and a people. The town is a small community sitting on a sandbar; the narrow Sechelt isthmus which separates Sechelt Inlet from the Salish Sea. Named after the original First Nations people of the region – the shíshálh.

This charming seaside town serves as a central hub for exploring the southern Sunshine Coast, where it’s easy to go sightseeing and take day trips to the neighboring communities of Halfmoon Bay, Roberts Creek, Pender Harbour, or Egmont.  It’s also the perfect launching point for boating & paddling excursions to the surrounding fjords, including Narrows, Salmon, and Sechelt Inlet.

If you want to visit a true water-centric community, Pender Harbour is a must.

This unique harbour community is all about the water. Experience the true Pender Harbour Spirit, or just enjoy the 5 freshwater lakes scattered around the ocean harbour.

One day you turn around and it’s summer
Next day you turn around and it’s fall
And all the winters and the springs of a lifetime
Whatever happened to them all? – Lyrics from “September of my Years” sung by Frank Sinatra

 

Palm Springs Places: Casa Cody

Casa Cody is the oldest operating hotel in Palm Springs. All of the buildings at Casa Cody tell a story.  I explored the now designated historic preservation site the other day.

On the grounds. Photo: d. king

The property was founded in the 1920’s by Hollywood pioneer, Harriet Cody, cousin to the legendary, Buffalo Bill. The hotel is nestled against the spectacular San Jacinto mountains, in the heart of Palm Springs.

Photo: d. king

History of the hotel: In the early 1900’s, Harriet and Harold Bryant Cody came by wagon from Hollywood to Palm Springs. They settled on land that was to become Casa Cody and built a home. By the 1920’s, Harriet established the property as a hotel and it became the stomping grounds for legends of the arts community, visiting the desert. Charlie Chaplin, American Opera Singer Lawrence Tibbett and AnaÏs Nin spent time here, particularly in the Adobe House, where a stage was built and Tibbett’s piano was kept below the House for performances and parties. Charlie Chaplin was rumored to have performed on the stage in the living room.

Photo: d. king

Photo: d. king

Photo: d. king

Outside the Adobe House

Inside the boudoir of the Adobe House where Charlie Chaplin resided.  Photo: d. king

Casa Cody combines glamour, history and just plain breathtaking beauty at every glance.

https://casacody.com/

 

Palm Springs Places: L’Horizon

In keeping with my desire to discover and explore the little hidden gems behind the hedges, I bring you L’Horizon Resort & Spa – a *Steve Hermann Hotel.  A place with a history and a glamorous past; basically everything I’m looking for.  The ultimate holiday escape.

To give you an idea of exactly how clandestine this place is, I’ve passed it on my bike countless times before I knew what was there. One day I spotted a little sign out front and out of curiosity I stopped in.  I liked what I saw on the inside so I contacted the person in charge of PR  to make an appointment to come back and find out more.  Which brings me to this:

Turns out I wasn’t the first one.

     A celebrity hotspot in its original incarnation more than 60 years ago—has been reborn, with three acres of desert land by designer- to-the-stars, Steve Hermann. – Travel and Leisure

     “As for the hotel’s cosseting comforts, there are even complimentary foot and back massages at the pool.” – Architectural Digest

 

Photo: d. king

A bit of history:

L’Horizon was originally designed in 1952 by renowned architect William F. Cody as a private family retreat for the television producer, oil tycoon, and legendary hotel owner Jack Wrather and his wife, Hollywood actress Bonita “Bunny” Granville.  Wrather was one of the most important California figures of the 1950’s, producing both “The Lone Ranger” and “Lassie”, building the Disneyland hotel, and opening the Queen Mary and the Spruce Goose. He commissioned a residence with 20 guest houses be built in Palm Springs as a getaway for his Hollywood friends to come join him relaxing poolside.  He named it L’Horizon and the guests of the property included Betty Grable, Marilyn Monroe, Presidents Reagan and Nixon, as well as countless other luminaries.

Now, redeveloped as a luxury resort, it boasts true exclusivity nestled within intimate spaces on 3 acres of gorgeous manicured desert grounds.  The 25 Bungalows are custom designed to emulate luxurious private residences with hand selected materials and finishes. The dramatic mountain backdrop frames the imaginatively designed landscapes to create a striking setting found only at L’Horizon Resort and Spa. L’Horizon Resort and Spa is an Adult only Resort, all guests must be 21 and over.

*STEVE HERMANN

Steve Hermann is a celebrated designer of high-end homes all over the world. As one of the most prolific designers within California, he is known as the design guru for the Hollywood elite, captains of industry, and foreign royalty. His innovative and imaginative homes are owned by A-list celebrities, entertainment executives and members of the Forbes top ten wealthiest list. His designs have been featured on Architectural Digest, Conde Nast Traveler, E!, MTV, ABC, as well as in hundreds of magazines and websites worldwide. One of his recent projects called The Glass Pavilion was published in over a hundred magazines and newspapers. It was featured on over 18 million websites and at one point was the 3rd most viewed house in the world.

Steve has now focused his attention on establishing a world recognized luxury hospitality company, Steve Hermann Hotels, of which L’Horizon Resort and Spa will serve as the initial flagship property.

About some of the private bungalows/suites:

the residence – formerly the home of Jack Wrather

the private pool – photo: d. king

Photo: d. king

The Residence is one of the most spectacular resort accommodations to be had worldwide. The original home of Hollywood mogul Jack Wrather, it boasts a secluded yard and full sized pool. Completely private, the living room and yard feature extraordinary unobstructed views of the mountains.

The pinnacle of desert luxury, the Fireplace suite

Marilyn’s room – The fireplace suite

features a wood burning, indoor copper clad fireplace for cool desert nights. Marilyn Monroe’s personal bungalow at the Wrather’s residence of the 50’s, this large and spacious bungalow is the ultimate way to experience the glamour of old Palm Springs. Featuring a private outdoor shower, you can shower al-fresco under the night desert stars as she was often fond of doing.

Weekend Brunch and nightly dinner is available to the outside public at SOPA

Visit: https://lhorizonpalmsprings.com/

 

 

Palm Springs Places: A Desert Oasis

avalon hotel and bungalows

Photo: d. king

Beyond the yellow door lies a little haven.  I remember when this remarkable little refuge used to be called the Viceroy.  My friend Colleen took me here for a drink one evening about four years ago.  I have her to thank for introducing me to an abundance of chic little retreats that I may have otherwise not known about.  Places I’m now sharing with you.

The avalon is one of those unassuming from the outside places that I love…because when you walk in you immediately feel like you’re on holiday.  And being on holiday or at least feeling like you are, is an escape.

THE ART OF THE GETAWAY

A quick spin from L.A., Palm Springs was truly born as a weekender getaway for industry players, movie stars, mafia and moguls.  But us regular who are you calling regular folk can also revel in the desert hideaway.

Even so, this unassuming sanctuary is only one block from the downtown design district – an easy walk or bike ride with a choice of casual or chic dining, shopping, and entertainment.

The property, known as a Hollywood playground since the 30’s, was common for faces like Joan Crawford, Clark Gable, Marilyn Monroe, and Errol Flynn. (Crawford famously demanded french bread and 7 packs of cigarettes–3 opened–in hers.)

Enjoy a flowing series of courtyards, lawns, gardens and grounds that reveal romantic pools and cabanas, a hidden spa, studios and suites, and historic bungalows.

Photo: d. king

Private Bungalow Patio.  Photo: d. king

The Estrella Spa can suit whatever mood you happen to be in or want to be in.  Pamper and heal with a natural menu of options.  Try the Milky Way experience which can be made vegan with coconut or almond milk.

Oh yeah, the restaurant…

At Chi Chi restaurant, Jason Moffitt’s fresh, balanced California menu matches your desert mood, be it health or indulgence or somewhere in between.  They’re known for adding rum to their coconuts.

Photo: d. king

That’s simply how we lunch.

I think I can handle this.

To book:  https://www.avalon-hotel.com/palm-springs/

Palm Springs Places: La Sarena Villas

The Getaway.  A serene escape in the center of town with a stunning mountain backdrop.  C’mon…can it get much better?

Photo: d. king

This is the second in my series of desirable places to stay, eat, drink and unwind in and around the Palm Springs area.

La Sarena Villas is an adult only, dog friendly, luxury boutique resort smack in the heart of Palm Springs. With only 18 secluded guest villas each with their own private patio, complete with a romantic claw foot tub, fire pit, and built in benches…it’s pretty much perfect.

Photo: d. king

Redeveloped as a luxury hotel in 2016 by award winning architect, May Sung, with all the modern amenities of a 5 star hotel.   Each piece of furniture, all materials and finishes have been carefully hand picked by interior design group, Avenue Interior Design.

I really love the Happy Hour at Sugar High, a special root top deck.  The bartenders know what they’re doing mixing up amazing cocktails.  Appies are good too.

Then there’s the restaurant Azucar which is dedicated to excellence, serving up modern contemporary cuisine with local ingredients.

Photo: d. king

Unique finds in the fetching little boutique. I can endure this. Photo: d.king

Let’s not forget Whispers Spa: A place of tranquil serenity to unwind and let go of the pressures from everyday life!  There’s also a lovely boutique with great finds.

They have bikes too. Photo: d. king

Yup; I’m hooked!

Available for private parties.  Check them out at:

https://laserenavillas.com/

 

Ahhhhh the life!  If you go please mention where you heard of this little gem.

Palm Springs Places: The Sands Hotel & Spa

So I called up the Captain, ‘Please bring me my wine’
He said, ‘we haven’t had that spirit here since nineteen sixty-nine’

Lisa King in front of The Sands Spa.  Photo: d. king

This is the beginning of a series of desirable places to stay, eat, drink and unwind in and around the Palm Springs area.

Photo: Lisa King

As many of you know, I’ve been coming to this desirable desert destination for many years.  Two years ago I purchased a place to escape the rainy Vancouver winters and I love it.  I’ve become somewhat of a homebody preferring to cook meals at home, hang with my dogs and read or watch a movie.  But I also like going out to restaurants and listening to live music.  I especially love to discover the little hidden gems.  Places and spaces that take you away and really make you feel like you’re somewhere special.   Places like this:

Entrance to The Sands Hotel.  Photo:  d. king

So this is what I’ve been doing…in between cooking at home, walking the dogs, exploring new hiking areas, cruising on my bike and watching movies.  Luckily I also found an amazing tango instructor and a place to go dancing swing.  So I’m set.  However I’m still curious and I look forward to exploring the remarkable sprinkling of interesting and exotic places to enjoy.

Photo: d. king

There are so many noteworthy boutique style hotels where you can just stay put.  They’re not only places to spend the night when you come home from late night partying.  They make it hard to want to go elsewhere.  Which brings me to my recent weekend stay at The Sands Hotel & Spa in Indian Wells, CA.  A special birthday weekend with my sister and two longtime girlfriends. We were greeted upon check-in with Moroccan mint tea and pink champagne on ice in a pineapple ice bucket no less, in our gorgeous suite with large outdoor seating area including an outdoor bathtub.  Acqua di Parma bath products – noted.  And if you happened to forgot to pack your sunscreen, no need to worry – they supply “Sun Bum” by the pool.

Photo: d. king

Photo: d. king

Light fare courtesy the Pink Cabana restaurant.  Photo: d. king  fyi: they make excellent cocktails.

The Moroccan-themed property was designed by legendary interior designer Martyn Lawrence Bullard, one of Architectural Digest’s Top 100 designers in the world.  And it is simply put; stunning!  I mean these photos do not really do it complete justice.

Photo: d. king

Photo: d. king

A combination of Bullard’s Moroccan-inspired influence and a mid-century vibe that is synonymous with the desert’s everlasting allure, the Sands Hotel & Spa is an exotic, luxurious and personalized take on hospitality. It caters to an adult only environment, therefore all registered guests must be over the age of 18.  I like that too.

Located in close proximity to the Indian Wells Tennis Gardens and glamorous El Paseo Shopping District as well as a short drive to Coachella Polo Grounds,  it features 46 guest rooms, the Pink Cabana restaurant and bar and a full-service spa.  It’s Fabulous darling!

And she said, ‘we are all just prisoners here, of our own device’  Photo: d. king

Photo: d. king

You can check out any time you like, But you don’t want to leave!

We were well taken care of.  Special thanks to Adam Ramirez; Guest Services Manager and Olivia Prescott; Director of Sales + Public Relations for making our stay extra special.  See you next time! XO

Visit: http://sandshotelandspa.com/

quotes: lyrics from Hotel California

Selfie at the Spa : d. king