Good thing made bet­ter at re­sort

Calgary Herald - Calgary Herald New Condos - - Recreation & Investment Properties -

When Bell­star Ho­tels and Re­sorts of­fi­cials set out to rein­vent the ac­com­mo­da­tions at Koka­nee Springs Golf Re­sort in Craw­ford Lake, B.C., they did their home­work.

“We trav­elled to North and South Carolina and stud­ied 12 dif­fer­ent top re­sorts,” says Curt Jansen, di­rec­tor of re­sort real es­tate for Bell­star.

“We spent a lot of time and a lot of money. We took our ar­chi­tect, land­scape ar­chi­tect, our mar­ket­ing peo­ple, our CEO and our chair­man of the board and we re­ally stud­ied what makes a good re­sort in that kind of set­ting.”

But it was time and money well­spent, he says. “We came away with 1,000 notes, 1,000 pic­tures and some great ideas of how to make Koka­nee Springs an ul­ti­mate des­ti­na­tion re­sort for the Koote­nays.”

This level of at­ten­tion to de­tail was war­ranted be­cause Koka­nee Springs is al­ready a world-class golf course in a unique nat­u­ral set­ting — and it de­serves equally world-class ac­com­mo­da­tions, he says.

“Koka­nee is a place that you can’t du­pli­cate. There are a lot of suc­cess­ful re­sorts out there, but there’s no place in the Columbia Val­ley or the Okana­gan Val­ley that comes close.”

De­signed by the le­gendary Nor­man Wood, the Koka­nee Spring golf course opened in 1968 and has re­ceived awards from Travel + Leisure Mag­a­zine and Golf Di­gest.

“The course is very ma­ture now, given that it’s more than 40 years of age. It has three dis­tinct land­scapes and beau­ti­ful views of the Koka­nee Glacier and the moun­tains,” says Ed Ro­manowski, pres­i­dent and CEO of Bell­star.

“It’s al­most a rit­ual for many peo­ple to go there. Just a few days ago, a group was cel­e­brat­ing 30 years of go­ing to Koka­nee. They’ve dis­persed to all over the world over the years, and they still come back ev­ery year to be to­gether and catch up and play golf.”

Pre­serv­ing that tran­quil, yet fes­tive, at­mos­phere of Koka­nee Springs — while pro­vid­ing lux­u­ri­ous, homey ac­com­mo­da­tions — is no easy task, but it is one Bell­star is up to, says Ro­manowski. “We’re de­vel­op­ing a va­ri­ety of ac­com­mo­da­tions, and we’re try­ing to cap­ture the char­ac­ter of the area with a longer-term view,” he says. “We’re not look­ing to build a project and get out.”

The com­pany started pre-sell­ing the first phase of devel­op­ment this sum­mer, with the of­fi­cial launch this month.

It will con­sist of a 12-unit villa build­ing high on the first tee ridge, and six lux­u­ri­ous cot­tages set in the wood­lands flank­ing the golf course.

Vil­las will range from 600 to 900 square feet, with cot­tages rang­ing from 986-square foot bun­ga­lows to 1,536-square-foot, loft-style homes.

“They’ll all have ex­cep­tional views, and will be out­fit­ted so they would make a won­der­ful home, as well as a vacation home. They’ll be com­pletely turn-key, with de­tails right down to the wine glasses and knives and forks,” says Jansen.

“Even though it’s a rus­tic, Ap­palachian feel, the in­te­ri­ors are very up­scale — gran­ite coun­ter­tops, stone fire­places, beau­ti­ful fabrics and all the lat­est in elec­tron­ics. It’s re­sort com­fort­able in a cot­tage-in-the-woods set­ting.”

The cot­tages will be out­fit­ted with fire­places that are open to both the liv­ing room and screened-in out­door decks — one of the many ideas gleaned from the Carolina ex­pe­di­tion, he notes.

Bell­star is of­fer­ing full and frac­tional own­er­ship. All own­ers will have the op­tion of putting their units in the rental pool.

Three more villa build­ings, and about a dozen more cot­tages, will fol­low in the next few years, af­ter which the club­house — com­plete with pro shop, pool, fit­ness cen­tre, hot tub, world-class res­tau­rant, lounge and con­fer­ence space — will be built.

Con­struc­tion of the re­sort will oc­cur in small stages to min­i­mize dis­rup­tion for golf­ing guests. The devel­op­ment is also de­signed to com­ple­ment na­ture, not in­trude upon it.

“There’s a good di­vi­sion of space be­tween the cot­tages,” says Jansen.

“You’ll have to peer through the trees to no­tice there’s a cot­tage off the fair­way. You’re not go­ing to have to worry about break­ing win­dows.”

Koka­nee Springs boasts nearly a kilo­me­tre of beach front on Koote­nay Lake, which of­fers some of the best fish­ing in North Amer­ica.

“Some of the world-record trout is caught out of Koote­nay Lake. We’ll have char­ter fish­ing as a di­men­sion out there as well,” says Jansen.

The re­sort is in the ar­ti­san com­mu­nity of Craw­ford Bay — home to a world-renowned broom-maker, glass blower and or­na­men­tal iron­smith. “I think many places strive to put this kind of ar­ti­san at­mos­phere in place, and in Craw­ford Bay it’s evolved by it­self,” says Ro­manowski.

About an hour away — across on the world’s largest free ferry — is the town of Nel­son, a bustling com­mu­nity of 9,200 with all the ameni­ties and stores city dwellers are used to.

“Koka­nee Springs isn’t the eas­i­est place in the world to get to, but the drive here is some­thing that’s quite spec­tac­u­lar,” says Ro­manowski. “Old­growth forests, the moun­tains, the lake — it’s some­thing you have to ex­pe­ri­ence for your­self.”

One of the homes at the re­sort. Be­low, left: the floor plan for the unit.

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