A generation of accomplished Canadians are transforming retirement into a time of personal renewal defined by an active outdoor lifestyle. And increasingly, they’re finding their way to B.C.’s North Okanagan.
As Predator Ridge Resort resident Brian Watkins describes it, “We’re healthy, we’re energetic, we’ve done something with our lives and this is where we’re congregating.”
Nestled among spectacular mountains, lakes and grasslands, the region offers more than 2,000 hours of sunshine each year, along with easy access to all of the essential components of four-season outdoor activity. Unparalleled local food and the nearby comforts of urban living round out a rich lifestyle with none of the stressors of the city.
Kalavida Surf Shop on Kalamalka Lake makes it easy for residents and visitors to enjoy the tranquility of paddle boarding.
During the lingering spring and summer, long days make it possible to play a morning round of world-class golf at Predator Ridge, bike to a farm stall for produce picked the same morning, take in a paddleboarding lesson on breathtaking Kalamalka Lake and still have time to enjoy the sunset with a glass of award-winning local wine in hand.
The region’s outdoor lifestyle offerings are attracting both visitors and residents, says Ange Chew, tourism manager for the City of Vernon. “We did surveys recently and found out that 73 per cent of our visitors participate in at least one outdoor activity during their stay. We also found that the majority of our residents moved here because of lifestyle.
“We’re within 20 minutes of golf, fishing, boating, and numerous hiking and biking trails. If you’re a little bit more adventurous, we also have parachuting, paragliding and hang gliding. The Vernon airport is perfect for those who fly their own planes.”
Kalavida Surf Shop on Kalamalka Lake offers lessons and weekly events throughout the summer that make make it easy to try stand-up paddle boarding for the first time. “I’m not very coordinated, but it’s very easy to learn,” says Chew, a recent convert to the sport. “I like the tranquility and peace on the water. You’re just floating, powering yourself.”
At Predator Ridge, the impeccably equipped fitness centre serves as a hub for a wide array of activities and events. One popular weekly class starts with a two hour hike, includes a yoga class on a cedar platform overlooking Lake Okanagan and ends with a glass or two of local wine.
The resort has bikes for rent, but most residents have stocked their garages with bicycles alongside hiking equipment, tennis rackets, kayaks and paddle boards, says Susan Morris, Predator’s fitness centre manager. “We’re right in between Okanagan and Kalamalka lakes, of course, so you can put your board or your kayak on your roof rack and be at the lake in less than 10 minutes.”
On Saturday mornings, the resident biking group heads out for an 80 to 100 kilometer ride, and the Monday bocce league has more than 100 members. On Thursdays, residents meet at the fitness centre to carpool to one of the many beautiful hiking destinations in the area.
“It’s really important to most of our homeowners to be able to stay healthy and active,” says Morris. “Many have had high-powered jobs where they didn’t have time to do all these things that they want to do, and now it’s right in front of them – everything is right on their doorstep. It’s time to think about their health – the demographic that is moving here wants to still be hiking in their 80s.”
The stunning natural environment is inspiring, but being surrounded by equally active people also contributes to a healthy lifestyle, she adds. “Fitness classes or biking on Saturday mornings often turns into getting together after for a potluck dinner – there is great camaraderie. They all stay pretty active, and we have personal trainers and great instructors to help.”
The resort also offers many events that feature the region’s great food and wine, says Morris. “We just had a long-table dinner for 40 people, held in a secret outdoor location, that featured some of the region’s popular rosé wines matched with a locally-sourced, four-course dinner.”
Chew feels fortunate to have made it to Vernon earlier than expected, she says. “I always planned on retiring to the Okanagan, but when an opportunity came along I thought, ‘Why wait?’”
For more information, visit Predator Ridge's website.