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Leibish & Co

Monday, July 26, 2010

Swarovski’s Crystal Palace

Photograph of the front entrance to Sparkling Hill Resort provided by Derek Lepper of Derek Lepper Photography. (© 2010 Derek Lepper)

The Austrian crystal company, Swarovski, has made its mark in a most unusual place and in a most unusual way, bringing a large, glittering slice of Europe to rural western Canada.

The company has opened the Sparking Hill Resort and Wellness Hotel in Vernon, British Columbia. Carved out of a piece of granite overlooking the Okanagan Valley—known for its rustic beauty and as North America’s newest premium wine-growing region—the approximate $100 million, 178-acre project offers a wellness approach that is more popular in Europe as opposed to a North American spa experience that focuses on pampering.

And, of course, every part of this project includes the visual sparkle and healing powers of Swarovski crystals. From the giant crystal formation at the entrance that appears to have crashed into the granite mountain (which was the intent of chief designer Andy Altmayer and the Cannon Design architectural firm) to the crystal chandeliers that spread eloquently throughout the public spaces of the 241,000-square-foot hotel. 

A Swarovski crystal chandelier is the centerpiece of a dining room inside Sparkling Hill Resort. Photograph provided by Derek Lepper of Derek Lepper Photography(© 2010 Derek Lepper)

In addition, crystals are infused in water elements, fireplaces and in overhead lights, setting the mood in public areas while creating a feeling of warmth and rejuvenation in the wellness center. Natural surroundings incorporate and enhance the crystal theme as the hotel offers unobstructed views of the sun and moon and their shimmering reflection from the lake.

The 152 suites with expansive windows provide guests with views of either Lake Okanagan or the nearby mountains. The 25,000-square-foot wellness spa includes treatments that were only available in Europe, such as Italian (Fango) mud treatments where volcanic ash is mixed with water and the first cold sauna in North America, which involves being in a room for three minutes at -110C.

This resort in all sparkling, oversized glory serves as another extension for the Swarovski brand. The success of the 115-year-old company has been its ability to create new uses for crystal that brings functionality and beauty in areas that were previously unimagined. Altmayer has been with Swarovski for 35 years and embodies the philosophy of the company.

“My inspiration comes from the possibility of imagination,” he says. “Many people assume Swarovski is glittering figurines and chandeliers but it is so much more. Swarovski is a century old company that strives to invent new ways to incorporate crystals into fabrics, lights, jewelry, optics and even signage for roadways and offices.”

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