The chances of finding cowboy boots in my closet are basically zero. Thankfully on a recent trip to British Columbia’s Echo Valley Ranch & Spa my fine hosts, Norm and Nan, had a spare pair on hand to lend me. My afternoon of horse wrangling would not have felt quite right without the appropriate footwear.  And looking the part was pretty much all I had. Dancer the horse knew he had a novice riding him and let’s just say he tamed me.

Located in Jesmond, BC above the Fraser River in the province’s scenic Cariboo Region, Echo Valley is one of Western Canada’s most unique destination resorts. Set in a stunning mountain location the Ranch includes luxury suites, cabins and lodge rooms for up to 40 people.

Horse back riding is just one of the many activities you can do; other activities on offer include gold panning, hiking, fly fishing, an “East meet West” traditional Thai spa or just hanging with the eight collie dogs who roam the grounds.

However, what makes it truly unique is the spirit of the place. It’s an incredible mix of local (First Nations) and foreign (Thai) cultural influences, which are experienced in every aspect of your visit.  From the cuisine to the entertainment to the architecture and even in the interaction you have with each and every staff member, you realize how genuinely warm and welcoming this place is.  

Rates range depending on the season. 

Other recommendations:

I love Quebec’s Ice Hotel. Located only ten minutes from downtown Québec City, the Hôtel de Glace is a must-see attraction that every Canadian should visit once. With its huge snow vaults and its crystalline ice sculptures, the Hôtel de Glace impresses by its dazzling decor. In 2013, it will be open from January 5 until March 24.

In February I am following in Will and Kate’s footsteps and heading to Alberta’s Skoki Lodge. Situated in a beautiful high alpine region in Banff National Park, you can either hike or ski the eleven kilometre trail from Lake Louise to the Skoki Valley.   During winter, skiers of all abilities can find ski touring and telemarking slopes as well as a variety of cross country routes around the lodge.

The main lodge and three surrounding cabins provide accommodation for twenty-two guests. There is no electricity or running water, although I am told warm wash water is always available. At night, you hang out by the light of candles and kerosene lamps, or venture outside and feel the stars close up. I can’t wait!

Newfoundland’s Quirpon Lighthouse Inn offers the unique island experience of staying in a 1922 lightkeeper’s home on the shores of "Iceberg Alley". Fully restored by Linkum Tours, Quirpon Lighthouse Inn features ten beautiful rooms in two houses at the base of an operating lighthouse.

It is a Registered Heritage Building on the deserted Quirpon Island at the northernmost tip of Newfoundland and is the province’s best location for viewing icebergs as the Labrador Current carries them south.