Go Back  FlyerTalk Forums > Community > Trip Reports
Reload this Page >

A pandemic inspired road trip through the Okanagan, British Columbia, Canada

A pandemic inspired road trip through the Okanagan, British Columbia, Canada

Old Oct 10, 20, 4:32 pm
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: YVR - Vancouver, with most winter weekends in Whistler.
Programs: Aeroplan 35K, Marriott Titanium / Lifetime Gold, Hertz President's Circle
Posts: 4,465
A pandemic inspired road trip through the Okanagan, British Columbia, Canada

Trip Introduction: A Pandemic Inspired Road Trip through the Okanagan, British Columbia, Canada

After not having had a work trip or personal trip in 6 months, I started to get a little stir crazy. Having a worldwide pandemic at the time didn’t help and for many months we were stuck at home without a travel plan to be had.

Fortunately, our home province of British Columbia in Canada had a very light pandemic experience with less than 4,000 total cases by the time of this trip with only two hundred active cases in a province of four million people.

The decision to travel during a state of emergency is always a personal one given the risks versus the reward. I think everyone needs to conduct their own risk assessment and decide whether this can be done safely. In this case, we decided it would be safe enough given the activities we planned on doing, and travelling by personal car in our own little "bubble".

We had a stack of Marriott Bonvoy vouchers from four American Express credit cards that required burning at some point this year. Since they are only valid on Category 5 hotels and lower, they can be a little tricky to use in our home town of Vancouver, Canada. I usually use them on Seattle, Washington, United States hotels but with the Canadian Government having to quarantine returning international travelers for 14 days, that plan went quickly out the window. Thanks to Marriott Bonvoy category devaluations thanks to the high demand of Vancouver’s’ cruise ship industry for Alaskan Cruises, there aren’t too many exciting places in Vancouver that these can be used aside from a few remote airport or suburban hotels. This left us with Vancouver Island or the Okanagan interior or flying to some other location within Canada.

One of my work colleagues recommended visiting the brand new Fairfield Inn and Suites in Penticton, BC. While we don’t normally get excited about visiting the lowest budget hotels in the Marriott group, there is hardly any Marriott foot print in this part of the country. We were able to stop in and experience the new hotel within 30 days of opening. The region, which is situated near Canada's only desert, features a lot of recreation activities which include lakes, restaurants and Canadian up and coming wineries.

Since putting on thousands of kilometers on your own car is never fun, we ended up renting from the neighbourhood Hertz Car Rental for this trip. We obtained a weekly rental with a nice Hertz President’s Circle upgrade for a reasonable rate using the American Express Platinum CDP coupon (15%) along with 500 Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan frequent flier miles.

This is the first road trip of about twenty that I’ve written about and the first time that a Trip Introduction here doesn’t feature a flight map. Hopefully, this is doesn’t become the only one of this nature. Thankfully, travelling through the Canadian Rockies to get to a wine region is quite pretty and inspiring in its self.




I hope you will enjoy following along on our first great road trip adventure.

Read more from this trip:

Trip Introduction: A Pandemic Inspired Road Trip Through the Okanagan, British Columbia, Canada
Overland Travel: Getting to Quilchena and Nicola Lake
A Day of Fishing on Nicola Lake
Fairfield Inn and Suites, Penticton, BC, Canada
Floating the Penticton River Channel, Penticton, BC, Canada
Okanagan Winery Region Visits at Church and State, Checkmate and Burrowing Owl
Okanagan Winery Region Visits to La Frenz and La Stella
Overland Travel: Penticton - Nicola Lake - Vancouver



Links to my previous reports:

A Pandemic Inspired Road Trip through the Okanagan, British Columbia, Canada. August 2020
The United Island Hopper via Honolulu, & Kauai via United and Alaska Airlines First Class, January 2020
Peggy’s Cove & Halifax & Canada’ National Remembrance Day via Air Canada Business, November 2019
Chasing Legends In Ireland, London and Portugal via Tap Portugal and British Airways Business Class, Sept 2019
Melbourne, The Gold Coast & Whitsundays Great Barrier Reef via Qantas First Class, Aug 2019
Whale Sharks, Tacos and Baja California via Alaska First Class, April 2019
Fried Chicken, CNN and Human Rights in Atlanta, Georgia, USA via United First, April 2019
Spring Break in Park City, Utah, USA via Alaska Airlines, March 2019
Christkindlesmarkt (Christmas Market) Villages in Germany via British Airways and Lufthansa First Class, Dec 2018
Iceland, Spain & Morocco via IcelandAir Business Class & British Airways First Class, Sept 2018
East Africa: Tanzania and Seychelles via Air Canada & Turkish Airlines Business Class June 2018
Spring Break with WT73jr at Vail Colorado, USA via Alaska Airlines. March 2018
Polyensia Part II: Easter Island, Chile & Mexico City, Mexico via LATAM Business Class. Sept 2017
Summer is a state of mind; Kaanapali, Maui, via Alaska Airlines with my 13 yr old son, August 2017
Fiji, New Zealand and French Polynesia via Fiji Airways, Air New Zealand and Air Tahiti Nui Business Class, June 2017
Mileage Running to New York via Delta Airlines First Class for Alaska MVP Status, Dec 2016
Havana and Varadero Cuba via Westjet Holidays from Canada, Nov 2016
Malta (and the island of Gozo), Venice, Italy and Oktoberfest in Munich, via Air France Business Class, Sept 2016
South Africa, Namibia, Victoria Falls, Mauritius & the UAE via Emirates First, Qatar & South African Airways Business, April 2016
Pearl Harbor, The First Lady of Waikiki and Wailea, Hawaii via Alaska Airlines First Class, January 2016
Dodging Volcanic Ash: A family trip to Bali / Singapore with my 11 year old via Asiana, KLM and JAL Business, July 2015
RTW#3 (J): Vietnam, Maldives, and Tackling India’s Golden Triangle via Air Canada, Asiana Singapore, Air India and Turkish Airlines Business, May 2015
Experiencing flying as a "Non-Rev", Australia Wine and Beaches via Air Canada and Qantas Business, November 2014
Alaska Airlines First Class to Las Vegas, and a stay in the Aria Sky Suites “Penthouse” via Alaska Airlines First Class, August 2014
Family trip to Kenora Lake of the Woods Ontario via Air Canada Business Class. August 2014
Cathay Pacific First Class to New York, a sombre visit to the 9/11 Memorial Museum & 4 days of eating in NYC, May 2014
RTW #2 The Khors of Oman via Japan, Poland & the UAE via ANA, Thai, Lufthansa Business Class, April 2014
South Africa, Safari in Maasai Mara Kenya, & Mauritius via South African Airways, Swiss and Air Canada Business Class, Nov 2013
A family trip to Westin Playa Conchal, Liberia Costa Rica via United Airlines, Aug 2013
Buried Treasure: UAE Empty Quarter and Beyond to Huvadhoo Atoll, Maldives via United and Etihad Airlines, Nov 2012
RTW #1(F) The Time Share Presentation: Spain / China / Thailand via Asiana, Thai and Lufthansa First Class, May 2012
A visit to Macchu Picchu and Valle Nevado, Peru and Chile via Air Canada Business Class, Sept 2011
Travel after the Revolution of January 25, 2011. Egypt via Egypt Air, May 2011
A Step Back in Time: The Twilight of Burma, a visit to Myanmar via Silk Airways, Sept 2010



For a more detailed version of this report, please visit www.worldtraveller73.com

Last edited by worldtraveller73; Oct 24, 20 at 12:22 pm
worldtraveller73 is offline  
Old Oct 10, 20, 4:45 pm
  #2  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: YVR - Vancouver, with most winter weekends in Whistler.
Programs: Aeroplan 35K, Marriott Titanium / Lifetime Gold, Hertz President's Circle
Posts: 4,465

Overland Travel: Vancouver to Quilchena

Three Hundred Kilometers Travelled

On Friday after work, I attended the local Hertz Neighborhood edition which is within walking distance of the house. The best part about renting a car for this type of drive is that the car would come back covered in bugs and insects and we wouldn’t be responsible for scraping them all off at the end. Not to mention, it’s always nicer to be able to run the air conditioner all the time on steep mountainous hills without worrying about anything blowing up on your own car.

We had booked a weekly rental for a reasonable rate using the American Express Platinum CDP coupon (discounted 15% off) along with 500 Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan frequent flier miles. Although I booked a mid size, the friendly agent offered us a free Hertz President’s Circle upgrade to a full size Toyota Camry or a Mid Size SUV Kia Sorrento. They were the only two cars left at the outlet so it was a one or the other scenario. I ended up going with the white Toyota Camry which was the right choice. It was great on gas as a four cylinder.


Setting out on the Trans Canada Highway Route 1:

The next day, we packed up the house for what is normally a 3 hour and 300 kilometer drive from Vancouver to Merritt, BC. The route would take us along the Trans Canada Highway also known as Route 1 from Vancouver to Hope. The Trans Canada Highway is a cross country highway stem that travels through all ten provinces of Canada from the Pacific Ocean on the west to the Atlantic on the east. The main route spans 7,821 km (4,860 mi) across the country, one of the longest routes of its type in the world. Being a Saturday morning, it was heavy traffic leaving Vancouver with everyone getting out of town for summer trips.



Driving the Scenic Coquilhalla Route 5:

Once at Hope, we transferred to the Coquihalla Highway Route 5. This highways was built in 1985 and shortened the drive between Vancouver and Calgary Edmonton by several hours. It passes through a major mountain pass which can be very treacherous in the winter. It is the main East – West trucking shipping route in Canada. It is also home to the Discovery Television series “Highway Thru Hell” which features the plight of tow truck rescue drivers and their interactions with several stuck vehicles during terrible winter conditions. The terrain is also featured as the film set for portions of the film First Blood featuring Sylvester Stallone in the early 1980’s.



The Coquihalla Highway passes through some major avalanche zones. There is an avalanche shed that was constructed to allow for highway bombing so that any snow avalanches can pass over top of the highway. There are a few examples of these sheds on the Trans Canada Highway between British Columbia and Alberta. It’s not something that I’ve seen in many other parts of the world.





Passing through the Avalanche ShedsContinuing on our drive, we passed the Coquihalla Summit. The highway was undergoing re-surfacing on the hills, which made for some slow going with respect to speed.



Rock faces near the Coquihalla SummitAfter the summit, it was smooth sailing down hill towards Merritt and our final destination of Quilchena and the Nicola Lake area.

Arriving to Nicola Lake:

MrsWT73’s dad has a semi-permanent waterfront vacation campsite out on Nicola Lake. It’s about 15 minutes from the town of Merritt. We don’t always get the opportunity to visit thanks to busy work / personal schedules with lives in countless hotel rooms but when we do, the hospitality from MrsWT73’s dad and wife are sure appreciated. It also happens to the perfect remote concept for holidaying during a health pandemic since it’s so remote from other people and towns.

We arrived to the campsite on Nicola Lake.





We had a good afternoon of socializing after a 4 PM arrival. We had dinner with chicken brochettes along with a greek salad while we took in the water front views.

We also had some spectacular sunsets as we watched the sky fade to black for the day.





We followed with a campfire by the lake with the stars out.

Overall:

The Coquihalla Highway is a beautiful and interesting drive if you have the opportunity to pass through in the summer months. It’s always recommended to drive the highway on a week day to avoid the holiday crowds and the Vancouver traffic which tend to clog the route during evening rush hours and against the weekend book ends.

For a more detailed version of this report, please visit www.worldtraveller73.com
nequine likes this.
worldtraveller73 is offline  
Old Oct 10, 20, 4:51 pm
  #3  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: YVR - Vancouver, with most winter weekends in Whistler.
Programs: Aeroplan 35K, Marriott Titanium / Lifetime Gold, Hertz President's Circle
Posts: 4,465

Activity: Fishing on Nicola Lake, British Columbia, Canada

After a busy work week, we had a bit of a sleep in today. I was in bed until about 8:30 AM as an early riser, where as the others took a bit longer to rise and shine.

After a hearty camp breakfast with the required full rations of meat, we headed for an afternoon of fishing on Nicola Lake. MrsWT73’s dad, ever the handy man, had a rugged boat that fit the four of us. “The Relic” took out out on Nicola Lake for a little experimental Kokanee Salmon fishing.











The weather started off a little gray this morning but the cheer was all there.



As we got underway, it was lines out to see what was out there. We managed to catch a few although they were very small put backs.









We all got into it. Of course, we had to have a little homage to Newfoundland’s “Being Screeched In”. Canadians will recognize that this is a tradition of having to “kiss the fish” after drinking Newfoundland Rum.




A terrific break from our every day lives for myself and MrsWT73 of leading teams and working endless email queues among competing demands.

Driving from Quilchena to Penticton:

One hundred and seventy six kilometers travelled

After our day on the lake it was a shorter one hour and forty minute drive up to Penticton from Nicola Lake. We bid MrsWT73’s dad and wife good bye and thanked them for their family “home” hospitality.

The trip was mostly free way for the first part. We avoided the ire of the traffic police that often patrol the connector.







We passed off the Coquihalla Connector and on to the local two lane highway road down to Penticton once we had reached the Okanagan Lake.



We arrived comfortably at our destination of the Fairfield Inn and Suites, Penticton. A great day overall of travelling along with a little activity on the side that was fun for both of us.

For a more detailed version of this report, please visit www.worldtraveller73.com
nequine likes this.
worldtraveller73 is offline  
Old Oct 10, 20, 4:59 pm
  #4  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: YVR - Vancouver, with most winter weekends in Whistler.
Programs: Aeroplan 35K, Marriott Titanium / Lifetime Gold, Hertz President's Circle
Posts: 4,465

Review: Fairfield Inn and Suites, Penticton, British Columbia, Canada

We ended up at this place based on the recommendation of a work colleague. I was pretty happy about the idea of it since Marriott has no properties at this end of the Okanagan lake and it’s a break from all the regular urban properties I have tried up in Kelowna that include the Delta Grand, the Four Points by Sheraton and the Fairfield Inn Kelowna. Unfortunately, we had some usually bad billing issues with our stay which resulted in quite a substantial amount of unnecessary effort in order to put right.

Booking and Getting There:

We booked direct on the Marriott Website. With the intent to use up our free credit card nights, we booked under several Canadian American Express Marriott Bonvoy Free night voucher under my and MrsWT73’s names. As we were staying a few nights, we also had two paid night stays. The best available night was $161 CAD American Automobile Association (AAA) rate versus the regular rate at $205 CAD. It was during high season on our stay. Unfortunately, Marriott IT systems do not allow combining special (but regularly available) discounted rates with Marriott Bonvoy reward e-certificates so we booked under 4 separate back to back reservations to save us $44 CAD per night or $88 CAD total off of the best available Marriott Rewards members rate.

Arriving to the Property:

On arrival to the property, we had a friendly reception agent. I explained the reservation situation with the 4 back to back stays of which they acknowledged but didn’t appear to make any note of. As a Marriott Bonvoy Titanium, there were no suite upgrades available but we were advised to “feel free to check with the desk on each day of your stay”. We were asked to check back with them “every day” for reservation situation in dealing with the room assignment, or perhaps re-assignment.











The Fairfield Inn and Suites was a fresh brand new property having only opened in mid July 2020. It was a complete new build and not a re-flagging of another property. As a result, everything is smelling fresh and new. We led ourselves to our first room – Room #404.

The Room: Two Queens

The room is in modern colors of blue and grey and was reasonably comfortable.













The Bathroom in the “Two Queens” offered, rather smartly I thought, a combination bath and shower combo.





The room was on the quiet side of the building away from the frontage street. I found being at the back of the hotel was a little bit quieter than staying on the front side. As a tip, if you’re able to get a room facing the back, you’ll likely have a quieter stay experience.

The Room: King Room

On our second night, despite outlaying the 4 nights of consecutive reservations on our initial check in, we were asked to vacate our Two Queen room. I asked if we could keep the initial room assigned at the front desk and was told “Err the next guest has specifically requested Room #404”. I suppose the question could be asked why did we get assigned this room if they knew we were staying three additional nights, but that’s another matter entirely. We did a quick pack up and re-positioned to the king room. We ended up in the King Room for the next three nights.

Much like the Queen Room, the King Room was smartly attired in modern colors.



The King Room offered an upright stand up shower, unlike our Two Queens which offered a bath shower combination.



The toiletries in the room were the usual Paul Mitchell Branded Toiletries.



Both of the rooms offered both a Microwave and a Fridge.




It was a little shady as I happened to notice that Suites were available that evening and no upgrade was offered when we changed rooms, despite being on a one night booking. We transferred rooms at around 11 AM, I suppose it could also be argued that there were no suites available when we moved rooms as they were being cleaned. We didn’t get occupancy of the next room until later in the evening. I didn’t push for it given our schedule took us away from the hotel quite a bit and we were on 1 night reservations; meaning that we’d likely have to vacate the room within 24 hours. This was something we were actively trying to minimize but I thought that I’d mention it.



Indeed, on the top floor, there did not appear to be too many suite upgrade opportunities. The fourth floor itself did not appear to have any suites configured according to the fire diagram in the room.

Not many Suites – Floor Layout – Fairfield Inn and Suites Penticton

Food and Beverage:

Much like all other Fairfield Inn’s, there is no on site restaurant at this property.

Typically, there is a breakfast served in the lobby. Thanks to the world wide pandemic, breakfast boxes weree being served in the lobby cafeteria in lieu of the usual included Fairfield inn breakfast bar.









Breakfast to Go Contents – a Egg and Ham Wrap with Yoghurt and a Granola Bar

Around the Property:

The property offered both a gym with free weights and an indoor pool.







There was also a small patio area at the back of the hotel, that was quite heavily used by guests during our stay. The patio area receives full warm sun until the early evening, making it a great gathering space.



Self parking was free at the hotel and I appreciated that we did not need the bureaucracy of a hotel parking pass to be displayed on our dashboard.

There is not much food and beverage in the immediate neighbourhood of this place. There is a Chevron Gas Station with a White Spot Triple “O”‘s burger bar across the street. There was also a Cascades Casino a short 4 minute walk form the hotel with a Match Eatery inside it that was completely closed during our visit due to the pandemic.

At the time of our stay, there were forest fires buring in British Columbia. They are typically set off by lightening. It was so bad that my boss had warned me to be careful on my trip as the scale of the fires was making the national news as much of the town of Penticton was under Evacuation Alert. It was the first time that I have had a Room with a View that included Forest Fires.

At the end of our stay(s), we checked out with an emailed folio. I asked at the front desk if the combined stays issue had been sorted and got a “I think my colleague took care of it” for an answer. I was satisfied with that (unfortunately), and with no reason to doubt it, and left for back home.

Our Accounting Issues and Eventual Resolution:

Upon returning home, I happened to notice by signing into my American Express account, that the hotel had charged us for three paid nights, instead of the two paid nights (and two e-certificates) that we had initially booked over our a four night stay. When we checked out, we were emailed a receipt for our last two nights stay. Since we had two paid nights, I didn’t think much of it until I was reconciling my receipts at home. After a little investigation, I noticed that the hotel had charged us for three paid nights on two separate invoices; treating one of the free e-certificate nights as a paid stay (but also taking the e-certificate).

I contacted the hotel directly to get this straightened out using the telephone number provided on the hotel invoices. There was no email address listed or available on the invoices. I left phone messages with the “front desk mailbox” on two occasions (a weekend and a week day) and never got a call back after 7 calendar days. Making my third call to follow up, not getting any response from the hotel, I escalated it by calling the Marriott Bonvoy Titanium Support line, who asked for 5 days to contact the hotel to get the matter sorted out.

I eventually returned a phone message left for me from the hotel, calling back the hotel for the third time (my fourth call to Marriott). They indicated that they had received the referral “from their boss” and would be following up. They asked for a week to get this sorted out as they needed a form of corporate approval. After I didn’t hear back from them after another 7 days, I called the hotel (my fifth call to to Marriott or their representatives) and they indicated that they were awaiting final approval from Marriott. They did call back within 24 hrs as promised and, with their apologies, indicated a refund would be forthcoming in the next 3 business days.

I did check and the refund of $167 CAD of the one night was refunded to my American Express account. However, the hotel didn’t refund the taxes and fees (State Occupancy Tax, Convention and Tourism Tax, and Occupancy Sales Tax) associated with the stay, which amounted to about $26.72 CAD. I didn’t bother further following up on this amount, deciding that the time and energy was better spent elsewhere.

About 38 days after my stay, I got an automated emailed invoice entitled “Your Sep 17, 2020 – Oct 01, 2020 Stay at Fairfield Inn & Suites Penticton”. I had a small panic since our stay was in August and this period was for fourteen days. On this receipt, there was a refund of the room and taxes. Sure enough, some 41 days after our stay, the taxes refund turned up.

For some reason, my stay and night credits posted out of sequence to by Marriott Bonvoy account. One stay posted after 7 days where as the other one took 13 days to automatically post. I wasn’t prompt on following up with the missing stays given the other billing issues were in the process of being followed up.

In the end, the issues were mostly resolved. However, it took 5 phone calls, a substantial amount of chasing them including escalation to corporate and some twenty three days to make it partially right. Issues with the stay were persisting and eventually finalized after the forty one day mark. As someone that spends 75 nights a year in hotels, this was hardly something that I was enthusiastic about dealing with.

Overall:

We enjoyed our short four day stay at the property. Unfortunately, as new as the Fairfield Inn is and the new car smell that comes with staying in a new property, it’s still a stay at a Fairfield Inn. While everything is clean and new, it’s not a super aspirational stay.

As indicated. we did experience some headaches with room adjustments and over billing that took several phone calls, time and several weeks of follow up in order to get resolved. As a result, I’m a touch reluctant to consider staying again on anything other than a straight forward reservation given the billing headaches that came with our stay. Hopefully, this is just a management team that is growing into a property and that they’ll be up to scratch real soon. Otherwise, this would be a great addition to Marriott’s portfolio and I look forward to staying again as the hotel grows into maturity.

For a more detailed version of this report, please visit www.worldtraveller73.com
worldtraveller73 is offline  
Old Oct 10, 20, 8:27 pm
  #5  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: East Coast
Programs: AA CONCIERGE KEY, HILTON DIAMOND
Posts: 10,060
Thanks for posting!
fly747first is offline  
Old Oct 11, 20, 11:33 am
  #6  
Four Seasons 5+ BadgeSPG 5+ Badge
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Germany
Programs: Some
Posts: 8,809
404 would also be a room I specially request
I look forward for more beautiful landscapes
offerendum is offline  
Old Oct 11, 20, 2:15 pm
  #7  
 
Join Date: Apr 2014
Location: Aberdeen, Scotland
Programs: BA Bronze, Emirates Silver, Virgin Silver, Marriott Titanium
Posts: 1,122
Good to see you back travelling & posting again. Some nice pictures where you visited!
nequine is offline  
Old Oct 11, 20, 10:15 pm
  #8  
 
Join Date: Feb 2017
Location: Dallas
Programs: HHonors Diamond, Marriott Titanium, AAdvantage Platinum Pro, UA Silver
Posts: 329
Glad to see you back traveling WT73!
wakesetter93 is offline  
Old Oct 13, 20, 6:51 am
  #9  
 
Join Date: Jul 2013
Location: JNB
Programs: Flying Blue, Miles and Smiles, Hhonors, ICHotels
Posts: 1,212
Originally Posted by nequine View Post
Good to see you back travelling & posting again. Some nice pictures where you visited!
I agree - those pictures on the lake just look so inviting.
roadwarrier is offline  
Old Oct 16, 20, 3:31 am
  #10  
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Let me check my Logbook
Programs: Southwest Rapid Rewards; AAdvantage; Alaska Mileage Plan; Wyndham Rewards; Choice Hotels
Posts: 1,984
Thanks for your Trip Report. I have run the Coquihalla Highway before including once in the winter. I've never been to Penticton or the Okanagan. Any Marriott is more spendy than I would normally care to stay unless circumstances dictate that I must. Are restaurants allowed to have dine-in service in BC?

Last edited by Loose Cannon; Oct 16, 20 at 5:29 am
Loose Cannon is offline  
Old Oct 17, 20, 6:19 pm
  #11  
Hilton Contributor Badge
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: SRQ/TPA
Programs: DL PM, AS 75K, Hilton Diamond, Starriott Platinum, Hyatt FreeBottleofWaterist
Posts: 8,994
I'm looking forward to trying to pull rank and kick you out of room 404 in the future!

Love seeing these domestic Canadian reports. Far too few of them! A bunch of our friends have retired to Kelowna and my dad and his golf friends usually have a trip to Penticton every year. Well not this year. But you get the idea.
krazykanuck is offline  
Old Oct 18, 20, 11:58 am
  #12  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: YVR - Vancouver, with most winter weekends in Whistler.
Programs: Aeroplan 35K, Marriott Titanium / Lifetime Gold, Hertz President's Circle
Posts: 4,465
Originally Posted by fly747first View Post
Thanks for posting!
Thanks fly747first. Almost time for a handle change there given the unfortunate world conditions.

Originally Posted by offerendum View Post
404 would also be a room I specially request
I look forward for more beautiful landscapes
Ha ha offerendum - you'll have put it on your Canada list for when you pass through these parts.

Originally Posted by nequine View Post
Good to see you back travelling & posting again. Some nice pictures where you visited!
Thanks nequine. We always appreciate your support.

Originally Posted by wakesetter93 View Post
Glad to see you back traveling WT73!
Thanks wakesetter93. We are having to get a bit creative with travels these days.

Originally Posted by roadwarrier View Post
I agree - those pictures on the lake just look so inviting.
Thank you roadwarrier. There is nothing like Canadian lakes - well except for their temperature sometimes.

Originally Posted by Loose Cannon View Post
Thanks for your Trip Report. I have run the Coquihalla Highway before including once in the winter. I've never been to Penticton or the Okanagan. Any Marriott is more spendy than I would normally care to stay unless circumstances dictate that I must. Are restaurants allowed to have dine-in service in BC?
It's great to hear that you've driven the highway. It's a beautiful drive in the summer, although I stay away in the winter and in the storms.

The restaurants in BC were / are currently open with 2 m distancing required between tables and have been so since about June 2020.

Originally Posted by krazykanuck View Post
I'm looking forward to trying to pull rank and kick you out of room 404 in the future!

Love seeing these domestic Canadian reports. Far too few of them! A bunch of our friends have retired to Kelowna and my dad and his golf friends usually have a trip to Penticton every year. Well not this year. But you get the idea.
Ha Ha - KrazyKanuck Room #404 looks like it's a new favourite. There aren't that many Canadian trip reports out there. Kelowna is exploding with new arrivals everyday (tourists and permanent relocaters).
worldtraveller73 is offline  
Old Oct 18, 20, 12:06 pm
  #13  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: YVR - Vancouver, with most winter weekends in Whistler.
Programs: Aeroplan 35K, Marriott Titanium / Lifetime Gold, Hertz President's Circle
Posts: 4,465

Activity: Floating the Penticton River Channel with Coyote Cruises, Penticton, British Columbia, Canada

On our first day in Penticton at the Fairfield Inn and Suites, I spent most of the morning on the wifi organizing bookings for wine tours for the next few days. It was a bit of an exercise in logistics given the pandemic since tours were based on limited availability at the wineries. I’ll look forward to going back to the free and easy days of just turning up for most tastings.

Today’s main activity was a floating river cruise down the Penticton River Channel on the West Bench of the City of Penticton. There are two lakes that are connected by a river channel in this part of the Okanagan Wine Country – the Okanagan Lake and the more southern Skaha Lake. The river channel is about 7 kilometers long and runs in between the two lakes on the western side of Penticton It makes for a nice afternoon of care free floating. It parallels Highway 97 for most of the route on the west side of the town.

Floating the River Channel with Coyote Cruises:

We started with an online booking for a time slot with Coyote Cruises. We didn’t’ actually need a time slot booked as it appeared that they were taking walk up customers and were not in a sell out situation on our visit on a Monday afternoon in late summer.

The fee was a reasonable $18 CAD per person, which included a sanitized float rental and a bus transfer back.



We parked the car (for free!) on the street and packed our stuff in. We had brought a dry bag with us in addition to a small cooler. There is no parking lot at the “put in” location of Coyote Cruises so allow yourself some time to park if coming through in the summer high season.



The float started like this and was filled up with the appropriate tie ons.



I missed the safety briefing since I accidentally signed up for a Sunday Times of London newspaper sucrscription thanks to dropping my iPhone in my pocket and picking it up with the fingerprint Touch ID on (life challenges!). We were informed that we were supposed to get out of the tube after the third bridge.





We headed out on the river which was fairly warm, despite being a little cloudy for the start of the day.

Floating the Penticton River Channel:

It was pretty peaceful passing down the river. It seems that the ducks take a liking to the floaters looking for food. It was neat watching them touch down after flying overhead.









Plane Spotting Aerial Forest Fire Fighting:

Another interesting part of the float were the forest fires on the nearby hills. We were able to see many plane water bombers fly overhead.





Forest Fires in the Hills near the town (top right)In a somewhat entertaining but sad event for all things Canadian, our float drifted down the river into the side of the canal where a underwater beaver dam was being constructed. A twig was protruding into the air under the surface level of the water where it happened to poke MrsWT73 in the tail. She was a bit startled by this and raised her seat from the inner tube. As a result of this, by lifting her torso, she forgot that her iPhone was on her lap and it slipped through the inner tube hole into the Penticton River Channel for good. It was in a weedy area and despite MsWT73 having a PADI certification and not having any goggles under these murky conditions, we were unable to recover it. Thankfully, it was an iPhone 6 in the era of the iPhone 11 and was nearing the end of its life at three and a half years of good use.

Our trip down the channel took about 3 hours, with a stop of about 40 minutes while we assessed the loss of the telephone situation. The time quoted in the kiosk at the start was approximately 1 hour and 40 minutes end to end. The river float is reportedly faster in the early summer thanks to winter snow run off which results in greater water flow and speed, and can be completed in about an hour (not personally tested).

Drifting under Sunny Skies:

After we dealt with the phone situation and the consideration of our searching resources, the weather had turned quite favourable. I really enjoyed the latter half of the float under strong sunny skies.












We eventually made it to the end of the River Channel. Coyote Cruises had a disembarkation area set up to get out of the river channel easily and safely.




DisembarkationAlong with our cruise down, we had a packed bus ride back. Since we visited during the pandemic, thankfully we had cloth masks with us and had hand santizied before we got on the bus. Coyote Cruises was also giving out surgical masks for those that didn’t have any.

A Celebratory Dinner at Bad Tattoo Brewing:

After the day, we had dinner at Bad Tattoo Brewing. It was located a few blocks off the Okanagan Lake Beach in Penticton and earned over one thousand reviews on Trip Advisor as Penticton’s best pizza.

Restaurants were open during our visit under socially distanced measures per the provincial health authority. We got ourselves a booking after making a phone call from the hotel. We were initially told it would be 45 minutes which actually turned out to be more like 20 minutes after we drove over.



It was a great smell even through our cloth masks as we walked past the wood burning pizza oven.

We were seated in the atrium. Indeed, Pizza and Beer are the only things on the menu here. There was lots of interesting options on the menu to keep any pizza lovers entertained.



Socially Distanced Dining in the Bad Tattoo Atrium



We split a Calabrese Pizza at 12inches. It was a little small but it was a nice light 3 slices each.



We took a look at some of their micro brew product on the way out with their cans for sale at the gift shop.



Bad Tattoo Brewing Cans

Penticton Channel Float Overall:

The Penticton Channel Float with Coyote Cruises was one of the most memorable events of this trip. It was a pretty relaxing float down the channels in sunny warm temperatures without a care in the world. It’s a highly recommended activity if you happen to find yourself in this part of the world.

For a more detailed version of this report, please visit www.worldtraveller73.com
nequine, offerendum and lamphs like this.
worldtraveller73 is offline  
Old Oct 18, 20, 12:15 pm
  #14  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: YVR - Vancouver, with most winter weekends in Whistler.
Programs: Aeroplan 35K, Marriott Titanium / Lifetime Gold, Hertz President's Circle
Posts: 4,465

Activity: Exploring Okanagan Wines on Black Sage and Golden Mile Bench, Oliver, British Columbia, Canada Checkmate and Church & State Wines

We were up a bit earlier today as compared to yesterday. Thankfully, we did not have to change rooms at the Fairfield.

The goal today was to sample a view wines and visit some wineries in the Okanagan Wine Region. We had made pre-booking reservations at each of the wineries as a result of the pandemic. Normally, you can just turn up without a booking and be accommodated at most of these places, save the higher end wineries like Checkmate.

Getting there:

The area of the Okanagan Wine Region we were visiting was towards the South. It was about forty five minutes in the car before we’d make the region surrounding Oliver, British Columbia, Canada.
It was a pretty drive down Highway 97 from Penticton to Oliver with some interesting bluffs and other bodies of water to look at.



First Stop: Church and State Winery

Our first stop was at Church and State Winery just outside of Oliver, British Columbia, Canada. The winery cellar door is situated on the Black Sage Bench on the east side of the valley.









Thanks to the current pandemic operating conditions, we were welcomed outside while the previous customers finished up. It was a limit of 2 groups in the tasting room (with a maximum of 4 per group). We had no one else join our reservation time so we had the whole place to ourselves.





We enjoyed a base live estate tasting with five wines for $15 with fees waived with the purchase of any bottle. We moved through the various wines with our host. It was a great and low key time with him.

Todays highlights were a Vourssance Chardonnay, a Rosé, a Cabernet Franc, a Meritage and a Petit Verdot which was typically off the sales menu.

We had a bit of time between Church and State and our next appointment up at Checkmate Winery. As a result, we relaxed on the patio and took in the views from the Church and State winery.





MrsWT73 enjoying some sparkling in the vines



A Tasting Experience at Checkmate Winery

We left the comforts of Church and State and drove ten minutes across the valley to Checkmate Winery. Like Church and State, visiting at Checkmate winery was a “by appointment” tasting.

In addition to being much more boutique than Church and State, Checkmate winery is well known to be the the home of Canada’s first perfect 100 point chardonnay. It’s unusual to expect to find a Burgundian-style Chardonnay to receive these kinds of accolades but indeed it was possible; two years in a row.







The Checkmate cellar door is under a bit of construction. We had a short wait in the warehouse with a sample before we were seated at a socially distanced private tasting table.

New School Concrete Eggs and Barrel Room at Checkmate Winery



It was a nice environment in order to taste some high quality wine.





Our host took us through the varieties and regions that their grapes were grown. The Little Pawn Chardonnay was the 100 point Chardonnay, although unfortunately not for the 2014 vintage.







We had a great tasting with 6 excellent wines under organic growth. Overall the tasting experience was very enjoyable, quiet and self paced; perfect for those who enjoy wine.

Last Call: Burrowing Owl Winery

We left Checkmate Winery with only a few purchases and headed onwards to our last tasting of the day at Burrowing Owl. Burrowing Owl was one of the first upscale wineries that ended up being successful in this particular region. It’s large enough to have enough reservation availability, but not too large that you can find it’s products everywhere so it still has some exclusivity to it.

The winery building itself isn’t to my design tastes – it looks a little horrific going up to it.



Despite my personal tastes in architecture and design, the resort looks much nicer from the resort itself. The vines against the hill side were full and ready for harvest. The views are among the most picturesque of all the wineries in the South Okanagan, in my humble opinion.





Perhaps more interesting is the hotel operation at the winery, that offers a terrific private pool that overlook the vines.



A deserted pool; a mirage for many





The wines would be a tough act to follow after the higher price point Checkmate winery but the higher end reds at Burrowing Owl were pretty good. Being a larger operation, the tasting room was a more commercial experience.



Burrowing Owl Tasting Room

Today’s wines





After our last tasting at Burrowing Owl, it was back to the hotel for a little relaxation. We were set for dinner this evening at Miridoro Restaurant at Tinhorn Creek Winery.

Dinner at Miradoro Creek Restaurant at Tinhorn Creek Winery:

Miradoro Creek was owned and operated the team that ran Le Gaviroche Restaurant in Vancouver. Le Gaviroche was home to one of Vancouver’s greatest wine cellar’s in its day before they opened Miradoro in Oliver at Tinhorn Creek. They have since closed their doors at Le Gaviroche in Vancouver, thanks to the super competitive restaurant and well financed franchise restaurant market that sells quite mainstream but consistent food.

We booked through open table. There was lots of availability but well in advance (4 days or greater).



There was nice socially distanced seating out on the patio with a very pleasant view over the Okanagan Valley. We took in the views as the sun set for the day.



Valley Views with parties facing the valley

The menu was interesting and regional, with a renewed emphasis on farm to table and local ingredients. There was enough variety across the menu to keep you interested and engaged with both light and heavier dishes. Being at Tinhorn Creek winery, their wines (including reserve wines) were prominently featured.





Miradoro Restaurant at Tinhorn Creek Dinner Menu’s

We started with some fresh house focaccia bread, with regional olive oil. I never tire of this dish, no matter how it’s presented.



I went with a Bear and Flower Farm Grilled Pork Chop with miso honey and espeliette pepper glazed stone ground cornmeal polenta, pickled peaches, sweet corn and chantrelle mushrooms, mustard greens with an Tin Horn Creek Oldfield Reserve Cabernet Franc 2014.

It was great cut of meat and very tasty. The flavours went really well together with the peaches which are popular in this area however I found the meal a bit soupy and would have probably gone with a little less sauce. The portion size was very generous for the price and much larger than we typically get in the city.



MrsWT73 enjoyed Quatro Fromaggi Pizza with a Cosmopolitan served in a traditional class and Merlot 2018. She rated it just average on the glass, which may have been expected after tasting those wonderful 90+ point wines up at Checkmate down the road.



My thoughts on our Okanagan Winery Visits:

We had a great first day re-discovering Okanagan Wines. Although this region is a mere five hours’ drive from our house, we rarely come this way in favour of more exotic destinations around the world. I was quite impressed with the facilities and quality of the wines at Checkmate winery. Our experiences at Church and State and Burrowing Owl were also nothing to sneeze at either; both have produced quality products.

Our dinner was also particularly enjoyable at Miradoro at Tinhorn Creek and we would easily come back. All to say, I had forgotten what a picturesque and impressive corner of British Columbia this area is and I was keen to explore more tomorrow.

For a more detailed version of this report, please visit www.worldtraveller73.com
offerendum and lamphs like this.
worldtraveller73 is offline  
Old Oct 18, 20, 1:20 pm
  #15  
 
Join Date: Apr 2014
Location: Aberdeen, Scotland
Programs: BA Bronze, Emirates Silver, Virgin Silver, Marriott Titanium
Posts: 1,122
Some very nice places to do the wine tasting at and wow at the view from where you had your supper!
nequine is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Search Engine: