We are just back from four nights at Echo Valley Ranch, which fell at the end of our two weeks self drive holiday in Canada.
We found ourselves (unknowingly, until we arrived) slap bang in the middle of family fortnight, so there were families with young children there during our stay. This was not a problem with most of the children, some of whom were delightful, but for two nights of our stay we shared ‘Lookout Lodge’ with a very noisy party of two families who didn’t seem to mind that their kids banged doors all afternoon and were very ill mannered, when we were trying to enjoy the peace and tranquillity of the place.
The directions to the property were good, but make sure that when you have travelled the 33k up Jesmond Road, that you turn left when you see the wooden sign for the ranch! We assumed it heralded the beginning of the property and drove straight one -we were wrong!
On arrival at the ranch it was difficult to find reception (officially they don’t have one ‘just a welcome mat’ over the door), but improved signage would relieve the frustration after what could have been a long drive! When we did eventually find the main lodge, we were given a very warm welcome and a tour of the place, which was really handy.
Our room was fine – average really. They are spacey enough, and there is a fridge, hairdryer, and we had a small balcony, looking out over the pastures and the mountains. The view really was quite unrivalled. The bed linen, curtains, etc are in definite need of updating, the furniture drawers stick, there was a leak in the bathroom, but the location of the hotel, oops sorry, ranch, means that these things take on lesser importance than might otherwise be the case. We had a king size bed, and there was space in a loft area with an additional bed. If I stayed here again, I would ask for a cabin – more privacy and less noisy. Pine is beautiful – but even bare feet make a loud noise on it!
I found it odd that there were no ‘do not disturb’ signs for the doors, especially as the doors are not locked generally speaking. (there is a latch on the inside).We went for a nap one afternoon and the cleaner burst in. She was, of course, full of apologies, but a simple sign would have prevented any embarrassment.
There is no doubt that the location of the ranch is second to none. The wide open spaces, glorious views of the mountains, huge skies and stunning sunsets, all help to make this a very memorable experience.
We went specifically to ride, and mostly I was satisfied with that. However, like the previous reviewer, we did not get an all day ride which was what I really, really wanted to do. I am a reasonably experienced rider (a bit rusty perhaps) and this would have been the pinnacle for me. Despite promises that our ‘Riding Experience Package’ gave us guaranteed choice of experiences, this was not the case – so for me this tainted our stay. The riding that we did do was great, (although we repeated one trail) and the wranglers were wonderful –Julie, Brooke, Cheryl all work really hard. I thought that the horses were great, well schooled and well behaved. If you stay in Lookout Lodge be prepared to walk through their paddock in the morning after breakfast, when they have been brought up from the field.
Mealtimes at the ranch are an enjoyable affair if you are in the right company – and we were! One of the highlights of Echo Valley for me was actually the other guests. We met people of many nationalities and had a great time. I particularly enjoyed the two barbecue nights, one with a First Nation drummer, and one with two folk singers, guitar players. The last was our final night in Canada and I will treasure the memories of it always, singing round the campfire, toasting marshmallows and generally having a laugh!
Thursdays are Thai nights, and I don’t eat Thai food, but to be fair, I think if I’d told them then it wouldn’t have been a problem for them to make me something else. The kitchen staff work very hard. The food was great in parts (the apple pie and lemon meringue – WOW!!!) and average in others, but then I never did like hot dogs!
Don’t expect a wide choice of drinks – juices, coffee and tea are available all the time. Red and white wine (usual served at the same cold temperature, strangely) are sold at $4.75 CD per glass and are drinkable. There were some bottles on display for you to buy but no one did. Take a couple with you (plus corkscrew!!!) if you think it’s going to bother you. I was rather pining for a gin and tonic towards the end of our stay!
What else to say? We did some of the unguided trails ourselves, watched Brian with the falcons, sympathised with the turkeys in the pen (who regularly appear on the menu) and walked down to visit the retired horses and donkeys. We didn’t try the spa treatments – to be honest with you, I was put off by the prices, which I found prohibitive, especially as we were at the end of our holiday. I was told by other guests that they were very good.
To finish with I feel I must mention the dogs! I arrived at Echo Valley rather worried about this aspect as I am (was) nervous of dogs. I now want one! There are seven resident collies, and various other dogs whose ownership I never quite established, and they will all go for a walk with you if you want. (in fact, it became a source of rivalry – how many dogs can you get on your walk?) They are gentle and great fun, and I miss them!
I agree with the comments of the reviewer below about Echo Valley resting on its laurels but all in all, I think it would be really difficult to have a bad time at this place, just join in and go for it!
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Located in 'cowboy country' above the Fraser River in BC's scenic Cariboo Region, Echo Valley Ranch & Spa entices those seeking a restorative sojourn, as well as those looking for a higher-octane activity. Whether your idea of heaven is a trail ride through rolling hills, a 4x4 wildlife safari, or a day at the spa, at Echo Valley guests find harmony and rejuvenation. The fusion of eastern and western influences is best seen at the spa, where both western massage and Thai treatments soothe muscles and mind; while dining options encompass dishes from east and west, fuelled by produce from the ranch livestock and kitchen garden. Activities also include hiking, bird watching and fly-fishing, as well as trips to white water rafting. Winter options range from snowshoeing to ice fishing and snowmobiling. Echo Valley is an idyllic spot for weddings and elopements, and caters to meetings and retreats for corporate groups. Flying into the ranch's private runway is one way to arrive; the ranch is also accessible with a scenic five hour drive from Vancouver. ... more less
- Reservation Options:
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- Also Known As:
- Echo Valley Ranch And Spa
- Echo Valley Ranch Hotel Jesmond
- Echo Valley Hotel
- Echo Valley Resort