The very idea of building a boutique hotel in an agricultural area, specifically next to a winery, has been public for just over a week and there is already a petition trying to stop it.
This is kind of sad, since the plans are still very conceptual, and the Hollers, who own Poplar Grove Winery, still have a great number of hoops to jump through to get there.
It’s also sad because when it’s complete, a new vineyard hotel stands to be a major addition to Penticton’s and the South Okanagan’s tourism profile.
Tony Holler doesn’t like the comparison to Tuscany — he says the South Okanagan needs to focus on promoting how great this area and its wines are, not looking to other wine regions.
But if you look at those other wine regions, you will find the kind of accommodations the Hollers hope to offer. From bed and breakfast to hotels, there are places for wine travellers to stay — allowing them the chance to visit the region, surrounded by the vines and wineries they came to experience.
So why not the South Okanagan? As a major wine-growing region, we should be offering this as a way for wine travellers to experience our region. And if the idea spreads to other wineries, great.
It’s unlikely to affect business at existing hotels. We think it’s more likely to draw more tourism to the area, expanding on one sector of tourism. The size of the accommodations would be naturally limited. This type of tourist more likely to be looking for intimate experiences.
Unlike the controversy over building a waterslide in Skaha Lake Park, this is not public land being leased to a developer; it’s private land that already has a home on it. Nor is it land that is being taken from the Agricultural Land Reserve. Only about a third of the land is ALR, and at this point, the Hollers are applying for an alternate use ruling, not removal.