Destination Dispatches: East Meets Western in Cariboo Country

- Joy Pecknold, Passport blog editor

Tom Robbins would say even cowgirls get the blues. I say that’s unlikely when there’s a Thai spa around the corner from the corral.

The place is Echo Valley Ranch in British Columbia, Canada’s Cariboo Country. And the plot is part City Slickers, part Planes, Trains and Automobiles, minus high jinks, but with plenty of high points.

Getting me part of the way from city to country was the Rocky Mountaineer train. I was no freight car stowaway. This was a plush ride, akin to the Orient Express, with table service and wine pours whilst weaving along tracks sided by jagged rocks on the left and the Thompson River on the right.

The rest of the way it was a SUV to the crest of a hill overlooking pasture and pine trees. A friendly pack of eight border collies with a penchant for playing catch are there to greet me (I indulged them, happily and often).

No knifing pork and beans from an aluminum can when the ranch’s on-site chef prepares meals fit for gourmands, like mushroom-stuffed phyllo and melt-in-your-mouth lamb shank.

To work off the delicious calories, there are trails to hike, or leave the work to a easy-going equine. Keener that I am, I brought my own cowboy boots (borrowed actually, I’ll admit), but the ranch will supply a pair. Although I only risked the occasional trot on my aptly-named steed Joker, I still felt like Calamity Jane with the sun on my face, the feeling of smooth leather reins on my palms, and the sound of thumping, clacking hoofs reverberating in my ear as they hit root and gravel. Hey, this could be as close as a clean city girl like me gets to True Grit.

Now about that Thai Spa. After a long saunter in the saddle, with legs wobbly and mystery muscle sore, the John Waynes of this world would keep their chaps on and maybe take a quick nap in the dirt. But why, when you can stumble into a cozy treatment bed and have a Luk Pra Kob herbal rejuvenation ritual where a muslin bundle of herbs, steamed to release healing oils, is pressed along the body’s energy channels, helping relieve tension (check), muscle soreness (check), bruising (check) and inflammation (check). Nan, one of the owners, is from Thailand and has employed a spa staff who also hail from there, so I was in the hands of true Thai specialists. They offer Western spa treatments too, so while you’re at it get a mani to match your Palomino.

And where does the plane come in? Norm, the other owner, has his own and built a private air strip on the property, so one can charter oneself in and out. Bet Brad and Angelina would like that.

Saddle up, spa, saddle up, spa, eat, drink and be merry. A cowgirl’s life isn’t so hard after all.

Nightly, all-inclusive rates at Echo Valley Ranch start at $430 CAD.

  1. […] Destination Dispatches: East Meets Western in … – Kiwi Collection Tom Robbins would say even cowgirls get the blues. I say that's unlikely when there's a Thai spa around the corner from the corral. The place is Echo. […]