When one thinks of getting away to the Okanagan, it is usually for some golf and wine and, maybe, some beach and harvest time. One destination offers it all and more. Situated in the southern Okanagan Valley, overlooking Osoyoos Lake and abutting the unique arid Sonora Desert, is a 4.5 star resort that is like a nirvana of getaways. Get ready for a stay that is more than relaxing. If you let it, the 200-acre Nk’Mip Resort attends to all one’s senses and needs.
Nk’Mip (pronounced inn Ka meep, meaning “bottomland”) is an antidote to a frenetic life. To relax, stay in one of the 226 luxury condo-style suites of the Spirit Ridge Vineyard Resort, one of the almost 400 recreational vehicle sites, or camp lakeside. But go beyond mere accommodation. Try re-energizing at the on-site Solstice Spa or fitness centre or the Nk’Mip Cellars winery.
Enjoy recreation by golfing at Sonora Dunes or hiking the desert pathways to nearby Osoyoos. Soothe yourself with some swimming in a pool or warm lake, or paddling non-motorized watercraft. Explore via horseback or bikes or even helicopter tour. But most importantly, reconnect with the environment.
The Osoyoos Indian Band and its 10 partners aim to give visitors a balm for a busy life with an added dimension. While one is reinvigorating, one can also try re-evaluating.
The Nk’Mip Desert Cultural Centre
Opened in 2006, the $9 million centre is a marvel of culture and environmental awareness. Built into the hillside, the ochre-coloured strata of the rammed-earth Wall of Discovery beckons you. Inside, guests are gently embraced by the Osoyoos culture; it even may be the iconic coyote trickster’s design, which is the theme of one of the brilliant films.
Outside and inside comingle with the Chaptik legends of the four animal chiefs depicted in metal sculptures and the Osoyoos language embedded in familiar places, like restrooms. The tasteful and manageable museum attests to the Osoyoos’ foresight and connectedness to their ecosystem.
For instance, they established a Day School in the 1930s, avoiding the excesses of an off-site residential school program; and, nearby, there are glassed-in protected rattlesnakes, an osprey nest, and a teaching and performance amphitheatre, which is part of their pledge to be stewards of the land.
Keeping the culture alive, helping visitors to become aware, saving endangered species, and mixing past, present and future are special features of the centre. A visit will certainly get you thinking.
Charlotte Stringam, General Manager of the centre is also an elder of the Osoyoos Band and four-term Councillor. She says, “Bringing back the culture is my proudest legacy,” which includes native and non-native interpreters, the archaeological re-creations of pit houses, sweat lodges, tule (bulrush) mat teepees, and Chaptik connections. She is planning new “come-back activities” like ropes programs, cliff rappelling, and salmon-fishing excursions. “We have to think of our children’s children, and the activities will not only help us to care for the land, but also provide jobs,” says Charlotte. Perhaps it is that forward thinking that brings approximately 18,000 people here each year.
The Cultural Centre is an ideal way to begin relaxing and give you pause to consider your surroundings. But don’t pause too long because there is lots to explore.
Golf and Wine
The Sonora Dunes 9-hole golf course is situated above the resort units. It is a par-35 and only 2,500 yards, so “you can put your driver away,” says Assistant Course Manager Mary Bourne. However, it is a tight course, target golf even, nestled in the desert and below awesome rock cliffs with panoramic views.
Open year-round, a Snow Bird Tournament is held each March called Battle of the Provinces. When looking for an errant ball in the desert, watch for quail or the occasional deer. Come summertime, Mary advises playing in the early morning or at dusk to avoid the desert heat. It can be a tiring walk around the course, but Nk’Mip Cellars is less than 100 metres downhill from the pro shop.
Nk’Mip wines have a wonderful reputation and awards to prove it, winning 76 international awards in 2011 competitions alone. Nk’Mip vineyards started in 1968, and have some of the oldest vines producing a full range of varietals on various terroirs set on reserve land from Oliver to Osoyoos. The Nk’Mip Cellars Vineyard and Winery is located just past the Hunter Sculpture and offers a pictorial history, knowledgeable servers for wine-tasting, and a patio view overlooking Merlot vines.
Their reserve wines are called Qwam Qwmt, a name devised by Band elders (pronounced quam quempt, meaning “achieving excellence”). Focusing on quality, not quantity, the 2008 QQ Merlot and Syrah won gold at the 2011 Canadian Wine Awards, as did the 2009 Pinot Noir.
Justin Hall, the young assistant wine maker, was educated in Oliver and New Zealand. He started working at Nk’Mip Resort as a golf course keeper, so mixes vocation and avocation. His favourite wine is the Syrah, but for golf at Sonora Dunes, he advises using your seven-iron and celebrating a good score with Pinot Blanc, the wine he makes, which won silver at the 2011 West Coast Wine Competition.
Whether it’s natural sights and fragrances in the desert or the bouquet of a fine wine, Nk’Mip seems to raise the question, “why are we here?”
Nk’Mip: Considering the Seventh Generation
Charlotte Stringam may say it was the coyote trickster spirit at work. However, after some time gazing at the sunset silhouettes, smelling the wild sage, or sipping wine while listening to lapping wavelets you may feel yourself waxing philosophical or at least becoming reflective.
Everywhere, there is evidence that we are stewards of the land, and we must consider our children and grandchildren and their grandchildren, a value called the seventh generation by aboriginal peoples. Certainly, the Osoyoos Band practice this value whether it is the vintners using minimal and natural additives and monitoring water, the RV Park having sewers and pumps tied into the town system, the re-introduction of salmon fry to river spawning, or the establishment of financial trusts for children of the 480-member band from land claim settlements.
Your reflections may be on a personal level or larger canvas, but contemplating the idea of the seventh generation tops up your destination stay before you re-enter the fray. Consider yourself revitalized.
1. The Wall of Discovery was designed by Saltspring Island’s Meror Krayenhoff
For more information and directions to the resort, visit www.nkmip.com
JUNE 2012 SENIOR LIVING MAGAZINE