In the heart of the South Okanagan, where the landscape transforms into a canvas of fiery reds, golden yellows, and rich browns, there exists a captivating haven for autumn enthusiasts. As the crisp air weaves tales of the changing season, the South Okanagan beckons with an irresistible allure, and at its epicenter stands Watermark Beach Resort. In a recent interview, David McBean, a passionate ambassador for this idyllic retreat, unfolds the story of autumn’s embrace in this enchanting region. From the bounty of the harvest to the symphony of flavors in its renowned wineries, every element intertwines to create an experience that is nothing short of magical. Join us on a journey through the vibrant tapestry of fall in the South Okanagan, where every moment is an ode to the beauty and bounty of this extraordinary season.
Our Interview with David McBean – General Manager at Watermark Beach Resort
Autumn seems like an ideal time to visit the South Okanagan. Could you share some unique experiences or activities that visitors can enjoy during this season, considering the fall foliage and harvest season?
Fall is a great time of year in the South Okanagan. Our weather is much milder than most of the country and the area has a big focus on harvest. The fruit stands in the area are now bringing in the final tree fruits (apples, pears) and root vegetables like squash, beets, carrots are coming in as well – which is a great way to get ready for holiday celebration meals with friends and family. Grape harvest is done as well and the wineries are putting their wines in barrels for their spring releases. Wines releases are mainly in the spring and fall, making it a great time to visit all the tasting rooms that are still open and pick up a bottle of wine to go perfectly with food from harvest. For the more sporty people, our golf courses are open much later than much of the country as well.
The South Okanagan is known for its wineries. Can you recommend a few wineries that stand out during the autumn months? Are there any special events or festivals related to wine that travelers should look forward to?
Many of the wineries in the area are still open in the fall and many will remain open year-round. Church and State Winery is a great choice with some amazing South Rhone varietals including Viognier, Rousanne, Marsanne and they have some great Syrah too. It is one of the reasons we chose to work with them at Watermark during our fall wine maker dinner series.
On a cooler day, consider the District Wine Village which has 7 wineries, a brewery and dining – all in one location. Apricus Winery, which is Indigenous owned and operated, is doing some great Chardonnay’s, a recently released Rose which is terrific, and a very well-priced, bold red blend called the Zephyr.
I read about the Dining at the Watermark accommodation package and the Winemaker and Brewmaster Dinner Series at 15 Park Bistro. Could you elaborate on these offerings? What can guests expect from these culinary experiences, and are they tailored specifically for the fall season?
Food and wine are such a big part of what makes the Okanagan a destination, and we at Watermark Beach Resort are fortunate to be set up to showcase what the area has to offer. Our Dining at Watermark Package is a room package that offers a dining credit at our in-house restaurant, 15 Park Bistro. By booking this package, you get a discount on the dining credit that can be used towards breakfast, lunch or dinner by a world class culinary team, or even use it towards sampling some of the extensive choices from our wine and cocktail list in the restaurant.
Our Winemaker & Brewmaster Dinner Series is a further reflection of some of the possibilities for people to see what the Okanagan can showcase with food and beverage.
We work with some outstanding wineries throughout the year to provide great experiences for our guests, and this is another way to showcase the great partnership with the world class wines in the Okanagan and the food offering designed by our culinary team. We have started with 4 partner wineries and our in-house brewery, Backroads, and will continue with our series after the New Year as there are many wineries wanting to partner with us. Booking a night at Watermark with the Dining Package, to attend one of the Winemaker dinners is a great way to have a well priced staycation.
The South Okanagan Fire & Ice Festival starting on November 24 sounds intriguing. What can attendees anticipate at this event, and how does it capture the essence of autumn in the region?
The festival does a great job showing the diversity of what people can expect in the South Okanagan. There is a large ticketed gala event in a resort, with wineries pouring at the event as one of the signature events. The Nk’Mip Desert Cultural Center is also hosting events and a market which shows the rich first nations culture that is a big part of the South Okanagan as well. Watermark Beach Resort is hosting a Christmas market on Saturday November 25, which will feature may of the local artisans in the area. For those who have not visited the South Okanagan, farmers markets that include food, crafts and local products is a big part of experiencing the South Okanagan. Some restaurants are also preparing special menus that focus on “Fire & Ice” in the cooking techniques themselves.
I noticed that remote workers can take advantage of exclusive weekly booking rates. Can you provide more details about this offer? How does it cater to individuals seeking a serene lakeside backdrop for work while enjoying the fall ambiance?
Our weekly rates provide a deep discount for those who stay 7 to 13 nights with an even larger discount for those staying 14 nights or more on the room rate. The condominium offerings of our rooms is what makes our resort especially well suited for those who decide to work from their room. With a large dining room table, full kitchen that you can keep and prepare food, lots of natural light and overlooking the mountains and lake, it is a quiet place to work but with everything you need and minimal distractions.
Given the current trends in domestic tourism, could you share how Watermark Beach Resort caters to the needs of local travelers?
While Osoyoos does have guests coming from various parts of the world, the majority of our guests are still local to British Columbia and South Alberta. The drive in to the valley is filled with mountains, forests and lakes, and just the journey alone makes us desirable for people to come visit. The guests from our province that visit the hotel come back again and again as they find their favourite restaurants and favourite wineries.
The Travel Now campaign initiated by Destination BC, TOTA, and BCHA is compelling. How is Watermark Beach Resort participating in this campaign, and what special incentives or benefits are being offered to encourage travelers to choose the South Okanagan for their autumn retreats?
Watermark Beach Resort has created a Sip and Stay package which includes a tasting passport for 6 wineries, a brewery and a cocktail from 15 Park Bistro’s cocktail menu. It provides a discounted rate to our guests and also helps get them out to the wineries and local partners that are also part of this campaign. We are still a small, tight-knit community and we partner with each other to provide more unique experiences for our visitors.
Are there any lesser-known attractions or hidden gems in the South Okanagan that you recommend visitors explore, especially during autumn? Places that might not be as crowded as the popular tourist spots but still offer a unique experience of the season?
Vin Amite, located in Oliver, just opened their wine lounge until 8pm daily and it has been a hit locally as a place to get a great glass of wine and a personalized charcuterie board that pairs well with the wines being made and served by their owner and winemaker Catherine Coulombe. The lounge is filled with local winemakers and foodies that were already big fans of this winery.
Lastly, for travelers interested in booking their autumn stay at Watermark Beach Resort, what are the best ways to make reservations, and are there any tips you can share to ensure they have a seamless and memorable experience during their visit?
I always recommend people book directly with the resort, whether it be through the resort’s website or calling directly. The exclusive packages which provide a great experience at a more competitive price are not typically offered on 3rd party sites. When you e-mail or call our resort, you’re speaking with one of our employees who is here on site; someone who lives here and has experienced these events firsthand.
Watermark Beach Resort stands as a gateway to a memorable escape. Whether indulging in the winemaker delights, savoring culinary experiences, or unwinding at Levia Wellness Spa, the resort’s commitment to providing a seamless and unforgettable experience reflects the spirit of the season. To make your autumn stay truly exceptional, consider booking directly through the resort for exclusive packages and firsthand guidance from those who call this picturesque paradise home. Embark on a journey where the warmth of hospitality meets the rich tapestry of fall in the South Okanagan, creating moments to cherish amidst the lakeside serenity.