Predator Ridge Golf Resort sits atop 1,200 acres of rolling, straw-blonde hills bordered by two brilliant blue lakes

The Peregrine Cottage District Walking Trail winds its way through the resort.

The Peregrine Cottage District Walking Trail winds its way through the resort.

By Kathy Bevan

The painted turtle lurching across the path in front of me wasn’t the main distraction as I played the back nine at Predator Ridge in B.C. in September. Nor was the trio of deer daintily grooming one of the fairways. What kept tugging at my concentration were the beautiful Okanagan Valley vistas that appeared over so many of the rises on the course, as well as the thought that nearby residents could soak up these views year-round.

Located 30 minutes north of the Kelowna International Airport, a few kilometres south of Vernon, Predator Ridge Golf Resort sits atop 1,200 acres of rolling, straw-blonde hills bordered by two brilliant blue lakes – Kalamalka to the east and Okanagan to the west. Master planned communities of homes ranging from cottages and multi-family condos to ranchers and custom-builds surround the 18-hole golf course, the heart of Predator Ridge.

The resort also offers homeowners a variety of sports options beyond golfing, including a fitness centre, indoor lap pool, tennis and hiking. There is a minimum of property care responsibilities – no grass to mow, leaves to rake, or snow to shovel. Wineries and vineyards abound throughout the Okanagan region, lakeside beaches are 10 minutes away, and in winter, you can be skiing at Silver Star or Big White within 1.5 hours. There’s a luxury spa onsite – particularly popular for soothing the aching muscles of the more athletically inclined, or for simply pampering yourself. A number of other “urban” amenities are also located at the resort, such as a convenience store, sports clothing outlet, casual eateries and a restaurant suited to formal and informal dining.

Whenever you want to sample valley cuisine a bit farther afield, an easy drive into Kelowna offers a wide variety of options. The famed Okanagan wine region, along with rich summer harvests of fruit and vegetables, continues to attract top chefs as well as homeowners to the area. The Kelowna Tourism Bureau introduced me to one small gem of a dining experience in the city’s Cultural District – the Waterfront Restaurant & Wine Bar, run by Chef Mark Filatow, who is now earning a name for himself in the valley.

Wesbild added an additional 18-hole golf course to the existing resort.

Wesbild added an additional 18-hole golf course to the existing resort.

At Predator Ridge, homebuyers have mainly come from throughout B.C. and neighbouring Alberta. With direct flights available to Kelowna from Toronto, the resort is hoping to see additional interest from Ontario. Vacationers are also welcome to rent cottages and lodge suites at the resort. And for homeowners and vacationers alike, one of the main draws at Predator Ridge continues to be its award-winning golf course.

For six years, Golf Digest has given this 18-hole course 4.5 stars out of 5; Score Magazine ranks it as one of Canada’s Top 100 golf courses. Twice, Predator Ridge has hosted the prestigious World Skins Game. After the 2000 event, golf pro Sergio Garcia bought two cottages at the resort. Several NHL players, including Eric Godard of the Pittsburgh Penguins, own homes there.

For lovers of the game of golf, at Predator Ridge the best seats in the house are, literally, in the houses that overlook several holes. Each neighbourhood has its own signature look and feel, with exterior colour palettes that blend into the ridgetop setting. On a golf cart tour through the various neighbourhoods, my guide Lisa Corcoran, director of marketing and community relations for the resort, pointed out the wood detailing of the craftsman style homes and the simpler lines of the prairie-style homes.

In addition to Predator Ridge’s existing housing options, we toured past construction now underway on 1,500-square-foot townhomes, 2,300-square-foot villas, 3,300+-square-foot executive homes, and lots being serviced for future sales. We also drove past the newest attraction some of these homes will edge onto as of next summer – an additional 18-hole golf course, designed by course architect Doug Carrick.

Corcoran says the recent surge in construction activity began in 2007, when Wesbild Holdings acquired the development. Wesbild was keen to build new neighbourhoods adjacent to the existing golf course, but also wanted to ensure that existing homeowners were happy. The developer went directly to those homeowners to ask them what they’d like added to the resort. Their resounding response: “More golf.” Course designer Carrick was hired and Wesbild invested $10 million into building an additional 18-hole golf course. The new layout mixes dramatic elevation changes with a narrower fairway perspective, complementing the more open, rippling hillsides and hidden greens of the existing course.

Existing homeowners also told Wesbild they wanted more walking and hiking trails. In response, the developer invested $250,000 into expanding its system of trails, which now covers over 20 km of paved and natural paths. As Corcoran observed about baby boomers in particular, “They want to golf, but they don’t want to golf every single day necessarily. They’re looking for other outdoor things to do and trails are a big part of that.”

The resort has been consulting with an environmental steward to try to ensure its neighbourhoods and trails don’t endanger local flora and fauna. One small lake on the development – Birdie Lake – is home to nesting painted turtles, like the one I saw meandering across the golf course. The resort is building a boardwalk to help preserve this nesting ground and guide visitors to look-out points safely removed from the nests themselves.

Predator Ridge hopes that its environmentally friendly approach and emphasis on connecting its homeowners to more outdoor activities than golf alone will also attract younger homebuyers. Its multi-family townhomes are geared toward young professionals just starting out, with prices beginning around $239,000 – at the other end of the scale, it has sold custom homes for $1.5 million. A sampling of properties listed for sale in September included vacant lots priced in the $177,000 to $459,000 range, as well as resale listings from $112,500 cottages to $879,000 executive homes.

For residents with their own private golf carts, for rolling down through those beautiful vistas to go the restaurant or to visit friends around the resort, as well as golfing, there’s the ultimate in household options: cart-sized automatic garage doors.

Transportation and onsite accommodation was provided by Predator Ridge Golf Resort, Vernon, B.C.; Kelowna dining courtesy of Tourism Kelowna and Waterfront Restaurant & Wine Bar, Kelowna.

Posted: 2009-12-11 07:53:52

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