The beautiful southern Okanagan Valley in British Columbia has long been famous for its golf courses, ski resorts, orchards and vineyards — the hot, dry summers and mild winters make for a perfect year-round destination. Perched in the hills above the town of Osoyoos, the Spirit Ridge Vineyard Resort & Spa only adds to the area's allure. As one of the original First Nation luxury resorts in Canada, it has garnered international attention. The sprawling resort includes a hotel, golf course, RV park, full-service spa, cultural centre, conference centre, vineyard and award-winning winery.
North America's first Aboriginal owned and operated winery, Nk'Mip Cellars (pronounced In-ka-MEEP) has received more than 50 international wine awards since opening its doors in 2002. The winery harvests grapes from some of the oldest vines in the region, just one of the reasons the wines keep winning awards.
The fertile Okanagan Valley is steeped in history and culture. Through hands-on displays, tours, self-guided trails and interpretive sites, the Nk'Mip Desert Cultural Centre celebrates the culture and history of the local Okanagan-area First Nations who have lived on this land for centuries.
The state-of-the-art Business Conference Centre is the latest addition to the resort. “The site is unique. It's rare to have a cultural centre or a conference centre on-reserve that has all the amenities,” said Osoyoos Indian Band Chief Clarence Louie.
None of it has been easy. Chief Louie's vision of self reliance for his people has taken drive, perseverance and plain old hard work. Now with more jobs on-reserve than members, the Osoyoos Indian Band is employing people from surrounding areas to fill the demand. Through strong leadership and strategic partnerships, the 450-member Osoyoos Indian Band has created a tourism business generating annual revenues in excess of $40 million and employing 1,200 people.
The Band operates ten businesses in total, including the resort. It also administers its own health, social, education, and municipal services. Is it any wonder the Band has won numerous environmental, architectural, and business awards for innovation. And there's no sign of slowing down any time soon. When asked what the future holds for the Band, Chief Louie doesn't hold back. “We're not going to stop improving employment opportunities or creating our own economic possibilities.”
So, if you're looking for a place to raise your glass — there are plenty of reasons to celebrate at the Spirit Ridge Vineyard Resort & Spa in Osoyoos.