Sparkling Serenity

The Okanagan Valley of British Columbia, Canada, is known for its majestic moutains lakes, as well as for its vineyards and outdoor activities like golf and skiing. Located in Vernon, a city in the Okanagan Valley, and nestled high above the land on 187 acres is a new hotel and wellness spa that is definitely a sight to see. Sparkling Hill Resort, which is owned by Gernot Langes-Swarovski, patriarch of the Swarovski Crystal empire, and designed by Andreas Altmayer, head of Circle of Innovation for Swarovski Crystal in Austria, utilizes 1.9 million Swarovski crystals throughout the property, including the lobby, restaurants, guest rooms, and the 40,000-square-foot KurSpa. “Sparkling Hill is unique because of its stunning location perched high on a cliff overlooking Lake Okanagan,” says spa manager Sylvia Groicher. “It specializes in wellness health vacations that celebrate the philosophy of Whole Body Wellness.”

The Whole Body Wellness concept is the central focus of the spa, which opened in May 2010. Even its name was inspired by this concept—kur means healing in German, while spa is a Latin acronym for sanus per aquam, or health by water. From traditional to non-traditional services, each treatment at the spa focuses on mind and body healing. “Our typical client is someone who is looking for a spa experience that goes above and beyond traditional pampering,” says Groicher. These clients can opt for treatments such as the Global Massage ($95, 50 minutes), which fuses massage techniques from around the globe, including Shiatsu, Lomi-Lomi, African, and Swedish, or the Fango Treatment ($50, 20 minutes), a mud wrap consisting of pure volcanic dust and water mixed together into a warm, buttery composition to detoxify skin and invigorate muscles. While there are myriad non-traditional options to choose from, the spa does offer a variety of standard face and body treatments, such as the KurSpa Massage ($95, 50 minutes), Signature Massage ($95, 50 minutes), and the Basic Facial ($95, 60 minutes).

Relaxation does not end when the service is over. Post-treatment, spa-goers are encouraged to enjoy time in the spa’s pools, including the indoor saltwater pool, which features soft music under the water and overhead crystals in the ceiling to create a soothing and starry sky environment; a Jacuzzi, which is situated next to an expansive window overlooking Lake Okanagan; and the outdoor infinity pool, which is situated at 2,379 feet above sea level, offering breathtaking views of the mountains and lake. In addition, a Kneipp Waterway introduces spa-goers to a type of healing called Water Stepping, in which guests step from one basin to another with alternating cold water and warm water basins to relax aching muscles, reduce swelling, and stimulate circulation.

Perhaps one of the most unique offerings of the spa is its multiple steam rooms and saunas. There are four steam rooms, including the Aqua Meditation room, which features water that streams from the ceiling splashing gently into a Swarovski crystal basin that creates a calming environment; the Rose Steam, which features heated wall tiles with rose petals embedded in them and a rose-infused steam sauna that releases a rose scent to lift the spirit and balance the mood; the Crystal Steam, which combines natural healing properties of crystals with dim lighting and a eucalyptus essence; and the Salt Steam, which features a high content of sodium chloride to work as an anti-allergic and antifungal remedy and also help reduce stress and enhance concentration.

In addition, spa-goers can relax and cleanse their minds and bodies in the spa’s three saunas, including the Panorama Sauna, which features stunning views and helps release tension and promote blood circulation; the Finnish Sauna, which is designed with softly polished golden wood walls and benches and helps cleanse the skin and lungs; and the Herbal Sauna, which offers an earthly feel with traditional and rustic old wood pine and a pine scent to cleanse the lungs. “Visitors to KurSpa steam rooms and saunas come away feeling relaxed with less stress, they sleep better, and their skin is softer,” says Groicher.


Spa-goers looking to cool down their warm bodies post-sauna can visit the Igloo, which features a chilled white marble floor and an ice dispenser for guests to rub ice on their skin to stimulate blood circulation and strengthen the immune system. For a more extreme experience, guests can sign up for the spa’s Cold Sauna. Featuring a temperature of -166 F, this cold therapy system works to cool the body by shrinking the blood vessels that increase blood flow and reducing inflammation. While monitored by a spa attendant, spa-goers pass through two pre-chambers, one at 5 F and the other -76 F, and are gradually introduced to the cold. They then enter the main chamber for up to three minutes. The sauna is said to help reduce muscle soreness and improve a variety of conditions. “The Cold Sauna is excellent for improving the client’s mood—the endorphin rush is immediate as soon as you walk out, giving a sensation of well-being and energy,” says Groicher. “After stepping into the sauna for three minutes, the body is influenced to react to the abrupt change in temperature, inducing positive results. People suffering from an expansive array of ailments may notice marked improvements, but the biggest users are those suffering from inflammation, arthritis, and joint pain.”

The Whole Body Wellness concept would not be complete without a fitness component. KurSpa’s FunFit workout studio boasts panoramic views of the Okanagan Valley and includes advanced cardio and weight-training equipment by Keiser. In addition, a Movement Studio offers dance, Pilates, yoga, and other classes each day. Whether receiving a treatment in one of the spa’s 48 treatment rooms or partaking in fitness activities, guests can relax pre- and post-treatment in the spa’s Serenity Room, which is a quiet room with views of the valley and mountains and a decor consisting of soft colors to create a tranquil retreat.

According to Groicher, the next step for the spa is opening a detox center and also adding more European-based wellness treatments to the menu. Groicher also plans to increase her staff from 20 to 50 once the spa reaches full capacity. As with most new spas, it might take some time before that capacity is reached. In fact, Groicher says that educating the public on the value of wellness has been her biggest challenge to date. Still, she is confident word will spread of the many benefits spa-goers can receive at KurSpa, and business will continue to grow. Whether coming in for just a spa treatment, a fitness class,

(Vernon, British Columbia)

Owner: Gernot

Spa Manager:
Sylvia Groicher

Opened: May 2010
65% female, 35% male

Canada, U.S.

40,000 square feet;
48 treatment rooms

acupuncture, aromatherapy, Ayurveda, body treatments, couples’ treatments, cupping, energy work, eyelash and brow tinting, facials, fitness, hair and scalp treatments, hammam, hand and foot treatments, hydrotherapy, makeup application, massage, guided meditation, nailcare, nutrition consultation, outdoor treatments, Pilates, prenatal services, Qigong, reflexology, salon services, tai chi, waxing, yoga

Cold Sauna ($40, three minutes with 15 minutes of preparation time)

Eufora, Footlogix, Jane Iredale – The Skincare Makeup, Professional Solutions, Zoya

Keiser, Kneipp, Maestro, Thermarium SpaDesign & Manufacture

Cannon Design (Vancouver, British Columbia) and
Andreas Altmayer (Wattens, Austria)

Seeton Shinkewski Design Group (Vancouver, British Columbia)