The gentle southern breeze blowing off Skaha Lake plays among the top branches of the tall cottonwoods. In the tropical gardens below, the narrow gravel trails wind their way through an 11-acre oasis that is Barefoot Beach Resort.
Less than a year ago this multi-million-dollar project, located just west of Airport Road, was little more than an empty stretch of property and a few piles of dirt.
But the concept was the dream of two Penticton men, Max Picton and partner Ben Lindsay, who poured their hearts and souls into the site these past months to make that dream a reality.
Opening today, Barefoot has already gained attention for the unique camping experience it offers in the spherical, domed structures called yurts.
The 11 bent, wood-framed structures are built on a deck floor and surrounded by a material, outer shell.
All are self-contained units, with one or two bedrooms, bathroom and kitchen and even one with a hot tub.
“We’re not in the accommodation business,” said Picton this week as workers scrambled around him, putting on the finishing touches. “We’re here to provide experiences. We want people to come here and have more than just a place to rest their head, to experience the Okanagan and to experience what Penticton has to offer.
“Especially important is our connectedness to nature, the idea of a light footprint. We want people to rest easy knowing that they are staying with someone who is conscious of the environment and keeping it here for future generations.”
The multi-million-dollar development spans both sides of the highway, including a beachfront section on the lake and was done in conjunction with locatee owners, the Kruger family.
“This is beyond our wildest dreams,” said Travis Kruger, who grew up with Picton. “I think this is everything we were going for. We wanted to clean up the entrance to the city, something that complemented Penticton as you drive in, and I think Barefoot has gone above and beyond that.”
He added the project will also do a lot to provide an anchor to the Peach City, bringing visitors back year after year.
Kruger was also pleased with the environmentally sensitive aspect of the resort.
“The idea of having a green energy was something we were looking for and we are really excited about that,” he said. “When he (Picton) pitched the idea of keeping it green it was a great concept and it’s the way the world is going and the way our economy is going, where people are conscious of the their carbon footprint on the earth.”
Chief Jonathan Kruger of the Penticton Indian Band was also impressed with his first look at the resort.
“I’m just really happy to see something as beautiful as this development, it is very comfortable, very inviting,” he said.
Kruger hopes more developments of this quality will begin to take shape on reserve lands.
“I think working with each other, I mean we’re all in this together, we can all move forward and we can create amazing things.”
The band has already started work on a major residential and business development project in the hills to the west of the area.
The new resort offers a complete range of on-site amenities including, restaurant, juice bar, coffee and ice cream shops, water sport rental and more.
“We’re going to encourage people to see everything there is to see in Penticton but if they want to, they can just park the car and enjoy themselves,” said Picton.
He added Barefoot will also be a great place for locals to come by and kick off their shoes and enjoy a little R and R.