Golf-course residences above Okanagan Lake are a threesome offer

Intrawest responsible for sales; Kelowna builder, construction; national course-operator, the golfingSteven Threndyle
Special to the Sun

Saturday, August 30, 2008
Around the Thompson Okanagan, you’ll find golf courses that wind through orchards, forests, deserts, lakes, even vineyards. Located just north of Kelowna, Tower Ranch is a stunningly beautiful new golf-course community that lives up to its name. The course towers over the Kelowna and Okanagan Lake (though ‘Tower’ refers to the Tower family — who we’ll get to in a minute).Located on 440 acres, Tower Ranch joins several ambitious new golf communities in the region; Tobiano near Kamloops, Talking Rock near Chase, Predator Ridge near Vernon, and the Fred Couples designed Rise layout just outside of Vernon.

Tower Ranch is a partnership between three renowned players in the recreational real estate field – Vancouver based Intrawest, whose Playground division is looking after the resort planning and sales; Dilworth Homes, a Kelowna building contractor; and the Aberdeen Golf Group, operator of several golf courses across the country.

Stan Tower owned a construction firm in the Lower Mainland and moved to the Okanagan in the mid-1960s to raise his young family.

An adventurous spirit, he turned to cattle ranching and his property soon took on legendary status in the community.

Tower was a keen golfer who tried for almost two decades to get a course built on his property, and sadly did not live long enough to see his Tower Ranch dream become a reality.

Indeed, the Tower family is in partnership with Intrawest on this project, and family members still operate a woodlot on an adjacent parcel of land.

Running like emerald streams through golden grasslands, the teeboxes, greens and fairways of the Club at Tower Ranch are a sight to behold – almost as though a touch of Scotland has been dropped into the Okanagan.

The course is the first all-new golf course in the Kelowna area since 1997. Designed by Thomas McBroom, it boasts a hilly, 7,300 yard layout from the back tees, with a vertical drop of almost 650 feet. The cart-only course offers stunning panoramic views of the city, lake, and surrounding hillsides and will surely be one of the region’s most renowned tracks as it grows in popularity.

After spending most of his life in Thunder Bay, Ont. and Winnipeg, Bert Farrant knows a lot about cold weather.

A former Eaton’s, he was retired for 15 years before moving to the Okanagan in 2007 with his wife.

“We really didn’t know much about the Okanagan before we started renting here, and we spent three months looking for the right place,” he says.

“We did not want a traditional family neighbourhood, and we bought at Tower Ranch because it feels like it’s in the country, but it’s very close to Kelowna’s shops and services.

“It’s very quiet, there is no traffic noise, and the lot that we chose has a fabulous view. I can literally walk out the front of my door to the 7th tee.

About the golfing outside his front door, he report: “Normally it takes about two or three years for a new golf course to take shape. The greens are fine but the fairways can be spotty. So far this summer, Tower Ranch has played as though it’s been here forever.”

Another important attraction was the reputation of the builder. Farrand says, “When we moved here, I asked some reputable, influential people about Dilworth Homes, and they really came highly recommended.”

Farrant chose the Durango home package, but has overseen considerable changes to the house since construction began earlier this year, including adding 260 square feet to the original plan.

“We’ve made so many alterations that the people at Dilworth are calling our house ‘The Farrango.’

“I cannot say enough good things about the project manager in charge of construction [Dennis Nojonen]. We have made quite a few alterations to the original plan and all of the local suppliers and contractors have been helpful and easy to work with.”

Farrant is a believer in Tower Ranch, and the Okanagan in general. “When I first came here, I met a woman who was a next door neighbour in Thunder Bay 40 or so years ago. She moved here in 1965. I asked her “why didn’t you tell me about it back then!” I tell people that live here “don’t worry about dying, you’re already living in paradise.”

Residences at Tower Ranch will be released over 15 years, according to Jonathon Silcock, development manager for Intrawest.

Fifty-four lots suitable for a variety of detached homes were released earlier this year, with prices starting at $159,000. Purchasers must commit to building a home from one of the house designs developed by Dilworth Homes within two years of purchase.

Further phases will include multi-family dwellings and large executive-sized estate lots that will be ideal for custom homes.

A village centre with shops and services is on the books as well as network of walking trails that lead into a regional park that Tower Ranch will donate to the city of Kelowna.