Seven years ago, my husband and I got married in this exact spot. Fast forward to the present day, and here we are, in Osoyoos, at the same resort where we said our vows, with two young kids and still madly in love.
When we first announced that we were getting married in Osoyoos, the first question out of people’s mouths was, oh, are you originally from there? Nope, not even close. Here’s how it happened… Mark and I got engaged in Tofino, another one of our favourite spots in the entire world. On our way back from Tofino, we stopped in Osoyoos and I completely fell in love with the small town. Over a campfire dinner of marshmallows and BC wine, we both agreed that this is where we wanted to get married.
We drove back out a few months later to check out wedding venues, and there was one clear winner in our minds – the Watermark Beach Resort. Of course, it needed to check off our boxes of having the capacity for our 115 wedding guests and a pretty view, but it was also the energy and feeling of the place that sold us right away. When you stay there, it’s like living in a little community. All of our guests had their own condos or villas at the Watermark, so we were able to visit with our guests before and after our wedding, head to the beach & pool together, and head out for coffees and walks together. It was like a little retreat.
We went back the following year and stayed in the same villa with family and have been back twice since then. Our most recent visit was at the end of May 2019 where we took our two kids, our best friends with their two kids, and it was phenomenal.
Getting there – Calgary to Osoyoos
We took two days to get from Calgary to Osoyoos and wanted to do the bulk of the drive on the first day to get it out of the way. We drove 5.5 hours on the first day and arrived in Mara Lake at around 8 pm. We found the cutest little farm to stay at for the night and I highly recommend it if you’re up for a cool experience. The cabin we stayed in was cheap (under $100/night) and had a separate living area which is literally my only criteria when traveling with kids. When I put the kids down for the night, I need my space to chill, work & relax. The farm is called The Little Green Ranch and it’s filled with animals – horses, cows, pigs, peacocks, dogs, roosters, chicks, donkeys and a giant turkey named Tommy. The kids LOVED exploring the farm. So, if you’re up for something rustic and fun, I would highly recommend staying here on the way to Osoyoos.
Our friends at Chevrolet Canada generously lent us a Chevrolet Traverse for our trip. It’s a seven-seater SUV and stunning inside. There was so much room for us to pack everything we needed for the week, including our paddleboards, stroller, cribs, along with our suitcases and water toys. I was worried that with such a large vehicle, we’d be blowing our vacation budget on gas. But WOW. We were both blown away by the fuel efficiency of this car. In total, we drove for over 28 hours and only had to fill up our tank 2.5 times. If that’s not efficient, I dunno what is. Some of my other favourite features of the Traverse:
[wp-svg-icons icon=”heart-2″ wrap=”i”] The backup camera included a birds-eye view of the car so you can see all of your surroundings
[wp-svg-icons icon=”heart-2″ wrap=”i”] Had 7 seats and was extremely spacious
[wp-svg-icons icon=”heart-2″ wrap=”i”] Insanely fuel efficient
[wp-svg-icons icon=”heart-2″ wrap=”i”] Air-conditioned seats
[wp-svg-icons icon=”heart-2″ wrap=”i”] Always connected with the car being an actual Wifi hotspot. So even in dead zones, I was able to connect to the internet and work.
On the second day, we stopped for lunch in Kelowna and my favourite bookstore. We found a 100% plant-based café called Naked Café in Kelowna and had a SUPER tasty lunch there. Then we perused my absolute favourite book store ever called Mosaic Books. Every time, we drive through Kelowna, I insist on stopping there to stock up on books because they have this epic bargain section where books (including new and bestsellers) are on sale from 40-70% off! I bought a vegan cookbook, 2 easy summertime reads, and a Paw Patrol book for Henry.
Watermark Beach Resort
There was no other choice for us – it was the Watermark or nothing given our history with the place. I worked with the hotel’s PR firm to secure a place that would suit our needs. There were eight of us in total so the 3-bedroom penthouse suite was perfect for us.
Aside from ample space, a massive kitchen, and a gorgeous patio, the views were absolutely breathtaking all day long. On previous trips, we had only stayed in the Beachfront Watermark Townhomes (amazing by the way) so the penthouse was new to us. Having experienced both accommodations, I would take the penthouse over the townhomes for two reasons; the view and the fact that there aren’t any stairs to block off with kids running around. Safety first! But to be completely honest, any accommodation at the Watermark is awesome. They all come with full kitchens and access to all the amazing features of the hotel, so there’s no losing.
Meals at the Watermark
We took turns cooking each day which was easy because there is an AG grocery store right next to the hotel. But if we didn’t feel like cooking, there was the option of eating out for dinner or ordering breakfast right to our room. The Watermark has a genius service where they supply you with all the breakfast ingredients you need – say waffles or smoothies or quiche and then you throw it together in your own kitchen without having to leave your place.
We went to the hotel’s restaurant one of the nights to simplify things. We had gone wine touring the day before so decided to bring down one of our own bottles, even though the restaurant’s wine selection was great. They charge a $25 corkage fee which is still cheaper than a nice bottle of wine at the restaurant so it was worth it. I ordered the cabbage and lentil dish and it was outstanding and the crowd favourite. We also ordered a little bit of charcuterie and bread plates to share – always a win with toddlers.
The restaurant setting was stunning on the patio, which looked out onto a large grassy area (where we had our wedding brunch!) and beyond that was the water. The kids were able to run wild on the grassy area and play while we enjoyed appies and wine at the table.
We were greeted by the manager of the restaurant who left a lot to be desired in terms of customer service. Perhaps we were an overwhelming bunch with four kids but felt like we were an imposition to him. Once we were seated, the views and the service that the waiters provided made up for his lack of hospitality. I was disappointed with him which is why we didn’t return to the restaurant, but other than that, the food, the wine, the views, and the waiting staff was spectacular.
Water at the Watermark
The pool area was even more perfect than I remember. Maybe it’s because I have kids now and the waterslide is that much more attractive 😉 The entire pool was fairly shallow (no deeper than 4 ft) so we felt very safe there especially with all the kids in life jackets and floaties. We spent a handful of mornings just hanging out on the pool deck and brought down snacks and water and played until the kids got tired. There are two hot tubs in the area – one for everybody and one adult-only hot tub. Not surprisingly though, the waterslide was everyone’s favourite feature.
The sandy beach and lake is just steps away from the resort and we spent the majority of our time there. After-dinner beach visits were our favourite. The kids would strip down to nothing and run into the water and play. It was so freeing for them and such a fantastic way to burn off any excess energy. Even though we were still in the sun after dinner, it was the perfect temperature at that time of the day. My favourite memory of all is when we brought corn on the cobs down to the beach for the kids. They peacefully ate their cobs and played in the sand and water and came up for some more bites. It was pure bliss for all of us 🙂
The resort also has paddle boards for their guests to use, so don’t be silly and bring your own like we did. You can also rent seadoos, boats, waterskis, tubes, and all that fun stuff from the marina just next door. There is seriously no shortage of fun.
Rainy Day in Osoyoos
We were a bit hesitant to book in May as it’s shoulder season and you never know what the weather will do. But with the exception of our first two days, our week was hot and sunny and the best way to ring in the summer!
Surrounded by gorgeous lakes, playgrounds, and parks, Osoyoos is meant to be enjoyed outside. So what do you do on a rainy day? We took the kids to a miniature railroad museum and out for ice cream. We also spent an entire afternoon at the Home Hardware on Main street. Don’t be fooled by the name – this store literally has everything and the kids will go ballistic (in a good way) in the toy section. The Watermark does not have an indoor pool, but if you’re brave enough to sit in the hot tub while it’s raining, that’s always an option. You’re getting wet anyway, right?! A rainy day is also a decent option for wine touring.
We decided to wine tour on a sunny day though, and I’m really happy we did. I mean, I’m always happiest when it’s sunny out. There were eight of us in total – 4 adults and 4 children under 4. Yup, sounds like a handful but it was definitely doable. We rented a limo to take us around to the wineries of our choice. We toured, we played, we drank, we dined. This was my favourite day. Obviously.
We left with 6 cases of wine between the two families. I tried to go to the wineries I hadn’t been to before, and I’m so happy I tried some of the smaller boutique wineries. My absolute favourite, hands down was a winery called Fairview Cellars. It’s very unassuming – small, a little messy – but please, give it a shot. Their wine is S P E C T A C U L A R. I bought three bottles of red and am kicking myself for not buying more. If you go to one winery in Osoyoos, go here. We hit up Tinhorn Creek for lunch that day. The views were phenomenal, there was plenty of space for the kids to run around, and the wine was tasty.
Other things to do with kids in Osoyoos
Although there is fun to be had literally anywhere in Osoyoos, we found a few gems for the kids. There are two playgrounds, both within walking distance from the Watermark Beach Resort. The closest one is called Lions Park – an 8-minute walk from the resort and is right on the water. It’s full of brand new, colourful play structures including a fire engine – Henry’s fave. The second playground I’d recommend is a 15-minute walk from the resort and is just next to the Osoyoos Elementary school. The entire structure is made out of wood which is incredibly beautiful and the kids had a blast.
The last kid-friendly area I’ll recommend is the Jack Shaw Splash Park, located just next to the wooden playground. On a hot, sunny day, this is the PERFECT place to be with the kiddos. The water is really cold though, so make sure you’re ready for it!
Memories that last
This goes down as the best family vacation we’ve ever had. I’m so grateful for the fabulous weather, our amazing friends, and of course the Watermark Beach Resort for making our stay in Osoyoos a phenomenal one. I will forever remember this trip and cannot wait for our return visit! My Mom turns 60 next year (don’t tell her I told you) and we are thinking of hosting a family vacation/birthday celebration for her. I couldn’t think of a better place than the Watermark to do this. So, stay tuned for another recap of an Osoyoos vacation next year 😉
Until then… love, peace & making memories [wp-svg-icons icon=”heart” wrap=”i”]