If your favourite things include romantic, rustic-but-luxurious getaways, sumptuous spa treatments and delicious Thai food, all with a dash of sustainability, then Echo Valley Ranch and Spa is the place for you. Located northwest of Kamloops and just a five hours northeast of Vancouver, this eco-friendly, all-inclusive resort is exactly what you need for a weekend away.
Owned by Norm and Nan Dove, Echo Valley Ranch and Spa offers travelers an authentic Canadian experience, via traditional log-built architecture, activities like gold-panning, fly-fishing and trail rides and evening barbeques followed by campfire sing-a-longs.
Conversely, there is also an Asian flavor. Think a weekly Thai banquet followed by traditional Thai dancing, and the spa selections featuring Thai massage and skin care. This ‘West-Meets-East’ mix is unique to Echo Valley Ranch and Spa. The ‘West’ comes from Norm, who is a British expat, and the ‘East’ from his wife Nan, who is from Thailand.
The resort is nestled in Echo Valley, an idyllically remote location where four distinctly Canadian geographical areas come together: mountain, forest, valley and pasture. It has been a gold star member of Green Tourism Canada for a number of years, and a natural, ‘living green’ ethos has always been important to the couple. They are committed to keeping their carbon footprint to a minimum, and embrace a ‘recycle, reuse and repurpose’ philosophy. You can even charge your electric car on site.
The resort also follows a ‘100 metre’ philosophy, where all (or as much as possible) of the food served comes from the ranch itself. There are beef cows, pigs and chickens (there are turkeys as well, but these are strictly Norm’s pets), and also a greenhouse and extensive summer garden – all organic.
Everyone (owners, guests and workers) takes meals together. Breakfast and lunch are both buffet style, and dinner is a three-course meal prepared by Executive Chef Todd Pruden (whose signature dish is Chicken à la Forestiere accompanied by a shaved fennel, apple, & arugula salad with lemon-shallot vinaigrette) and accompanied by BC wines. These communal meals have always been a part of the Echo Valley experience, stemming from Norm and Nan’s ethos of ‘living together, working together and eating together’.
Altogether, Echo Valley’s distinctive blend has gained them a dedicated following, and won them a number of awards. The World Boutique Hotel Awards awarded them American ‘Best Boutique Hotel’ and ‘Best Relaxation Retreat’ in 2014, and this year they are nominated for ‘Best Romantic Retreat’. They have also made Trip Advisor’s Traveller’s Choice list every year since 2012, and in 2013 won both ‘Best Service Hotel’ and ‘Best Boutique Hotel’.
Given the success the couple has achieved, it’s interesting to note that when they bought the property in 1991, it was as their personal home. But they soon realized that, as more and more people kept asking to visit, they were sitting on a really good business plan. In 1995 they started accepting paying guests and the resort has evolved from there.
The resort is open April 1st to October 31st each year (the Doves winter in Bangkok) and has a capacity of 30 – 42 people. You can also ‘book the ranch’ for corporate retreats, weddings and family reunions. Please note that children are only allowed in the family months of July and August. At other times there is a strict 13+ policy in order to keep the retreat a calm and romantic oasis. As for accommodations, the standard and premium rooms, as well as the free standing cabins, all have a rustic western ambience, while the Royal Suite has a more Eastern influence.
Cxng phmnı txn nı – book me in now.
~ Deborah Lampitt-McConnachie