East meets west at Echo Valley Ranch
Combine the warm temperatures and abundant sunshine plus reduced “mid-season” rates and early autumn proves a great time to explore Echo Valley Ranch & Spa, a guest ranch that seamlessly blends western adventure with eastern lifestyle.
Echo Valley Ranch’s “cowboy cred meets Thailand culture” sounded so unusual, I wasn’t sure what to expect when proprietors Nan and Norm Dove first described their property to me. Located in British Columbia’s Cariboo Region, aka Cowboy Country, Echo Valley offers the western guest ranch experiences of trail riding, fly fishing and hiking with a bevy of western and Thai spa treatments.
During my visit, I followed my half-day ride along the ridgeline overlooking the ranch and Echo Valley with a three-hour “Thai Signature Wellness Ritual Spa Package” that included an herbal steam bath, hot compress massage with Luk Pra Kob herbal pack and Thai aromatherapy facial among other treatments. Any burrs left in my saddle swiftly evaporated.
Thai therapies are located in the Baan Thai, a magnificent structure designed by Dr. Pinyo Suwankiri, the King of Thailand’s personal architect, and built by Cariboo contractors. The Baan Thai rises toward the Marble Range and beyond, a constant reminder of Nan, a Thailand native, and Englishman Norm’s commitment to cultural integration. Sous chef Yalaporn Yaemphathee takes over executive chef Jason Folk’s kitchen on Thursday nights to prepare a traditional Thai dinner, followed by a dance performance. Chef Folk features western themes when he hosts a BBQ on Tuesday night.
But the Baan Thai is just one of many brilliant sculptures I discovered meandering the 160-acre ranch. Theo Mahood’s stunning frescoes grace the guest lodge, and Gitxsan artist and historian Michael Blackstock has begun to “release” the faces in several yellow spruce trees.
The Cariboo Region is a junction of high altitude conifer forest, chaparral ridges, grasslands and the mighty Fraser Canyon, a frequent guided hiking destination for guests and source of the ranch’s freshly netted salmon dinners. The spirit of this environment circles Echo Valley Ranch with the strength of the ravens and eagles that soar overhead before roosting in Mahood’s mighty façades. The sense of friendship nurtured by Norm, Nan and their staff grins with the mirth found in Blackstock’s carved faces.
Article courtesy of the Canadian Tourism Commission. The text has been modified from the original.