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Spending quality time with our 9-year-old niece Jada is always extra-special fun for us, and the best way to do this is for the three of us to take a road trip together and have an adventure. As Jada is absolutely nuts about horse riding, it is the number one activity on her getaway wish list with us. Our preference is to go somewhere where we can try a variety of soft-adventure activities that appeal to all ages, stay in luxury, dine on healthy and wholesome food, and also experience a peaceful atmosphere.
Being disconnected from the world is also a big factor in our chose. For us it is a bonus to be in a remote location – with no TV in our room, no cell service and limited WiFi access (this makes sure that we all concentrate on being in the moment with each other and our surroundings). It turned out that Echo Valley Ranch & Spa in the Cariboo Region of British Columbia, Canada, ticked all the boxes (and much more) for us all to enjoy a multi-generational all-inclusive summer adventure.
Echo Valley Ranch is an eco-friendly ranch that is family-owned by Norm and Nan Dove, which they operate along with their Thai and Canadian staff. The 160-acre ranch is in a secluded location in the peaceful and scenic Echo Valley with spectacular views of Mount Bowman.
Wide open spaces and panoramic scenery are ideal for enjoying splendid sunsets. The atmosphere is relaxed, so just pack some jeans, casual attire and appropriate footwear for all the outdoor activities and you’re set. Rain gear and layers are always a good idea in the event of inclement weather.
During summer months, EVR offers family weeks and are the perfect time to bring kids of all ages, as there are so many fun activities for them in which to participate. The ranch’s half-dozen border collies are members of the family and love to adopt ranch guests during their stay. Jada immediately made friends with a couple of the dogs, and they followed her around for the duration of our stay.
Dove Lodge is the main ranch building – this is where guests gather around the fireplace on comfy couches, enjoy the coffee/tea station, chill out with a movie in the TV room (no TVs in guest rooms), utilize the Games Room activities (shuffleboard, cards table, pool table), check email on the shared computer (WiFi is only available in Dove Lodge), share meals with fellow guests from far and wide.
Our guest room was in the Lookout Lodge which is about a 5-minute stroll to Dove Lodge and has incredible views of either Mount Bowman or over the horse corral and towards Dove Lodge. Guest rooms all have private bathrooms, are spacious, cozy and comfortably appointed.
Our room had a king bed (can also be made into twin beds), table and chairs, dresser, walk-in closet with robes, ample wooden hangers, and a luggage rack, coffee maker (Keurig with tea, coffee and hot chocolate).
We also had a loft with a double and single bed which was accessed by a steep wooden ladder. Flashlights were provided in both areas and came in handy for middle of the night trips to the loo. Lovely bathroom amenities are included – bar soap, shower cap, cotton balls and buds, hand lotion, shampoo, conditioner, body wash. EVR does not have air conditioning, but there are fans in rooms if needed – although the evenings cool off quickly and screened windows are useful for allowing fresh air to circulate.
Log cabins of various sizes are spaced out around the property and afford guests a more secluded experience. These cabins are ideal for couples or families as they have different bedroom configurations (sleep 2-6).
The Baan Thai building has beautiful Thai architecture, features a conference room on the lower level where Thai yoga takes place. The Royal Suite is on the upper level and has a private rooftop terrace where guests can enjoy spectacular vistas over the ranch.
Spa services include traditional Western, European and authentic Thai treatments. Viv had the 60-minute Traditional Thai Massage (the best of any she’s ever experienced) which was perfect after a morning horse ride. This style massage concentrates on stretching out limbs while pressure points are stimulated to relieve stress and lubricate joints.
Jill had the 60-minute Asian Blend Massage that concentrated on her shoulders and back. It is a pressure point massage that works along the energy meridians to release toxins, promote good health, and relieve aches and pains.
The Cariboo Spa building also houses the indoor swimming pool, sauna and steam rooms, and the fitness center. We spent many hours enjoying the pool between outdoor activities.
Horse riding is available for an additional charge, and EVR has a range of horses to suit riders with skill levels anywhere from complete beginners to advanced equestrians. Wranglers are knowledgeable and skilled, and take guests out on 2-hour morning or afternoon rides through the nearby wooded trails.
Lessons in the arena are also available for those wanting to learn the basics or improve their riding skills. Jada had a 30-minute lesson in the outdoor arena from one of the wranglers before our first trail ride. This allowed her to be more comfortable with the horse she was riding that day. Our first trail ride was just the three of us and two wranglers. We enjoyed our next day’s ride with the same wranglers with the addition of 2 more guests hailing from Europe.
Note: WAVEJourney were guests at Echo Valley Ranch in August 2016.