Take a road trip

Okanagan/Interior

The first thing people think of when they hear Okanagan? Wine, of course. This fertile stretch of land is home to a variety of grapes – and other fruits – plus dozens of wineries. There ar are celebrations of the grape in every season, but nearbytowns and cities get in on the action for everything from blues music to bikes.

Check out how wild Central Alberta Festivals are

GATHERING PLACE FOR R & R SEEKERS – AND GOLFERS

This story is brought to you by the Aboriginal Tourism Association of BC. Click the logo above to stay connected to the Aboriginal community.

Quaaout Lodge sits on the north shore of the lovely Little Shuswap Lake in Chase, B.C. A stay at the lodge can include relaxing on the beach or playing 18 holes at its Talking Rock Golf Course.
Photo courtesy Quaaout Lodge

Quaaout Lodge’s quiet hospitality invites guests to return time and again

LISA MONFORTON 

CHASE, B.C. – Frank Antoine stops the golf cart and gestures in a sweeping motion as he describes the land we’re standing on, overlooking Little Shuswap Lake.

His pride and passion for Quaaout Lodge is apparent. The moment he came to work here, he says, “I knew I’d love this place.”

It’s no wonder Antoine feels this way about Quaaout (pronounced Qwa-out) where he’s worked for the past five years.

The lodge, owned by the Little Shuswap Nation, is located about 10 kilometres east of Chase in a serene setting overlooking the lake, bounded by fir, pine and cedar trees. Canoes lazily traverse the smooth water, while jet-skis race along the other shore.

The private beach and an expansive green lawn with walking paths fronts the lodge, where all 70 rooms are angled to take in the view.  It’s not surprising to learn that Quaaout means “when the sun first reflects the water.” And that the word Shuswap means “gathering place.”

Aboriginal motifs are found all around the property, like the animal carvings beneath the eaves of the lodge’s periphery and on the treatment room doors in the Le7ke Spa (prounounced Lah-(pause)-kah) on the premises. Red pictographs are etched into the walkways and outdoor patios on the ground-floor rooms.

The simple drawings painted on rock walls are replicas of the symbols used thousands of years ago to record life events, such as births, deaths or a big hunt. Red symbolizes life, virtue and all good things, according to the Little Shuswap People.

These are the beliefs that Antoine, the lodge’s guest services manager, tries to bring to work – where he says his simple credo is to treat people as you’d want to be treated. 

That’s the vibe at the lodge, with its quiet understated hospitality. Nothing feels rushed. While we’re having breakfast at Sam Jack’s, the onsite restaurant with a prime view of the lake, we spot a group of five women on the outdoor patio.

Cultural co-ordinator Barb Caliho is teaching birch basket weaving. On another day, she could be demonstrating hide tanning, beadwork or rock painting.  

Guests can take a canoe onto Little Shuswap Lake for a leisurely paddle. 
Photo above:Replicas of ancient Aboriginal pictographs are found all around Quaaout Lodge.
Photos by Lisa Monforton

Though golf and relaxation is the order of the day, the lodge also features an aboriginal cultural education element. Just beyond the lodge, we come upon a replica of a pithouse, a typical home once used by aboriginals to house several families in this part of Canada.

As we sit on a bench inside, Antoine points out the ‘men’s roof hole entrance’ where carcasses would be lowered down for cooking preparation, or used as a lookout. Nearby is the sweat lodge, which Antoine describes as “our church.” It’s used regularly and guests are welcome to experience its powers of cleansing mind, spirit and body.

Many people who come to the lodge simply come for therapy of another kind – golf.  The manicured greens of the six-year-old Talking Rock Golf Course are set in a natural wild, wooded area. Sand traps are common in this 18-hole course, like the one in the shape of a bear – the symbol of the Shuswap nation. It’s here, where Antoine’s statement that the Quaaout is like a “lodge family,” becomes obvious.

Talking Rock Golf Course is popular with guests and locals. It's a challenging course with many sandtraps, like the one in the foreground with the shape of a bear - the symbol of the Little Shuswap Nation - carved into it.
Photo by Lisa Monforton 

Antoine seems to know nearly all of the guests who are either about to tee off or walking from one hole to the next. He razzes a few about their game and compliments another on a shot, something he’s well versed in as the former golf pro. Many golfers are local retirees, who are here to refine their game.

The addition of the golf course is just one of several big changes at Quaaout. The 21-year-old lodge also underwent a $2 million renovation several years ago, modernizing the décor and adding comfy beds and linens. The addition of floor-to-roof beams and trim in red cedar give the lodge a more intimate feel amid the trees. Two years ago, the arrival of the Le7ka Spa helped round out Quaaout as a destination.  

Le7ka means “I am well” in the Shuswap language. Regula Wittmer, the spa director, has put a lot of thought into the calming space. A smooth, dark wood table shaped like a boat is used for water, colour and sound therapy, using aboriginal chants.

“People love it. It makes the treatment very unique.”

Each treatment room is named for an animal, such as the bear – meaning strength, or hummingbird, meaning beauty. Four treatment rooms are used for an array of treatments, such as scrubs, massages and facials. The spa’s vibe is aboriginal-meets-European, says Wittmer. Staff members use some indigenous herbs, such as sage and sweet grass or cedar in various therapies. The spa also carries its own line of all-natural skincare.

That seems to be the theme of Quaaout – all natural and down to earth, the kind of place you keep coming back to. Just like we plan to.

Read about Alert Bay here, a powerhouse of Aboriginal culture.

Quaaout Lodge website