As serene and gorgeous as much of the Okanagan Lake waterfront may be, it is still unmistakably modern, as so much of Kelowna‘s development has come in recent decades. This feeling of being caught in-between times all but evaporates when one strolls off the wooden boardwalk and up to the historic doors of Hotel Eldorado. A bonafide memento from a time long past, before the Okanagan Wine Country became internationally known, and a fun Sunday involved taking long car rides with the family.
The beginnings of this historic retreat are far from humble – its founder was an aristocratic English Countess uniquely named Bubna – who was keen to establish a Victorian-style inn. Putting a sizable fortune to good use, she opened the Eldorado in 1926.
By the 1950s, it was the de facto gathering place for top west coast personalities, and it has continued this way long after ownership was transferred twice. It remains a beacon of tradition just south of Kelowna’s downtown district and is easily recognizable from many points along the shoreline with its twinkling lights and expansive marina.
“The rich history of Eldorado Resort is central to who we are, and that is authentic, antique, and nostalgic with an abundance of history,” says Jacqueline Birk, Director of Sales and Marketing at the Eldorado. “There is a relaxed atmosphere that is equal parts elegant, nuanced, and casual, and is one that calls for Prada and pearls or bikinis and flip-flops in the same frame.”
This ethos was visible while exploring the waterfront property, especially at its famed marina, home to sleek speedboats and a stunning 1952 32-foot Chris Craft Sedan Cruiser, which harkens back to the Kelowna Regatta years. As sparkling as the marina is, it is not an exclusive yacht club replete with crisp white linens and Sperry topsiders. It still retains the unpretentious charm of the region.
Part of the authentic experience of staying at The Arms is definitely the historical touches, some small and others grander. Inside are charming old-world details like cork flooring and unique layouts. These retro-themed suites are delightful, and for a few days, we experienced simpler times, which included just enough modernity (coffee maker, big screen tv) to keep us happy.
Taking a relaxing paddle in the resort’s kayaks was tempting, but it was the much more exciting sea-doo’s that succeeded in getting us onto the lake. The process was streamlined, our machine in excellent condition, and after a brief how-to, we were out on the water, enjoying the view of the Eldorado Resort from the other side, and it was majestic.
A popular lunch spot, with locals and tourists, smackDAB at the Manteo, offered a patio experience unlike others in the form of a female mallard (promptly named Debbie), who waddles a route where she visits guests from table to table honking for crumbs. The patio abounded with giggles as she made her way from one end to the other before popping down to the lake’s edge to join her feathered friends.
For lunch, we delved into two plates of warm yam tacos and chased them with two BC ciders. The first, a ‘No Boats on Sunday‘ apple cider and the second, a Naramata Hard Dry Pear Cider. Perfectly complementary to the crispiness of grilled tortilla stuffed with the goodness of deep-fried yams, fresh sprouts, shredded cabbage, and tangy cashew cream. As the sun slowly sank behind the smoky mountains, our thoughts turned towards an evening meal.
The highly recommended and award-winning Lakeside Dining Room (next to The Whisky Room) is swathed in dark rich wood, dramatic drapery, and rows of windows to watch the sunset as you enjoy a fine meal. Before we arrived, we had heard that the Executive Chef makes good use of the Okanagan bounty of seasonal and organic farm-fresh products and supports local suppliers and wanted to peruse the award-winning wine list with over 150 different labels.
With a dinner menu available from 5 pm-9 pm, there was plenty of time to relax and enjoy some bubbles before our meals arrived. The Hatch’s Gobsmacked Bubbly was a crisp refresher after our time on the lake. The recommended plantbased starter was the Tomato Bisque—divine with fire-roasted tomatoes and red peppers.
Our main was a very filling Farro Bowl, and it was so incredible with its layered flavours and textures, that we had it again on our second night!
The large bowl began with a healthy portion of tender yet chewy farro, flanked by deep-fried kale chickpeas, marinated and uber-tangy local mushrooms, and spinach salad, grilled peppers, a sweet yet tart tomato jam, pumpkin seeds, and topped by the crispiest friend tofu fries. Every bite was a satisfying delight.
As we retired for the night, our room quiet except for the sound of the soaker tub filling and birds calling on the water.
After check-out the next morning, we paused outside the Eldorado Arms Luxury Lake View Suites and took one last look at the two vehicles parked outside the Dining entrance, that set the tone for a stay.
The glorious yellow 1937 International D-3 loaded with wine barrels that travelled from Valemount to Quebec and back while being restored, and a coal-black 1941 Cadillac Series 62 Convertible Coupe which was once part of the famed Jim Rogers Collection in Las Vegas. This torpedo-shaped relic hails from the era when the Eldorado first came to be. Its slick lines and chrome grills remind one that just because it is rooted in the past does not mean it cannot be incredibly cool.
Open throughout the winter season, Hotel Eldorado has launched a Wine Fest Pairing offer (until November 30th), which includes an overnight package designed just for two. Enjoy luxe accommodation plus a 3-course dinner paired with local wines, including vintages from Lake Breeze, Burrowing Owl, and Kitsch wineries.
- Helen Siwak is the founder of EcoLuxLuv Communications, publisher of Folio.YVR Luxury Lifestyle Magazine, and multiple digital lifestyle blogs. She is a content creator, consultant, and marketing and media strategist in the luxury lifestyle niche. She is a regular content contributor to Retail-Insider and has a vast freelance portfolio including Boulevard English & Chinese editions, Indulge, and Montecristo Magazine. When not attending high-profile events in Vancouver's 'Luxury Zone’ or on assignment abroad, she is honing her plant-based cooking skills and caring for her rescues. [email protected]
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