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Living my Dream in Merritt, BC, Canada

Living My Dream In Merritt, BC, Canada

The Beautiful Quilchena Hotel

“My sisters and I were going on a trail ride.”

The first time I came to Merritt, BC Canada was on a family vacation in 1980. I was 11 years old and it seemed like an adventure of a life time. I will never forget as we started to come into Merritt, the site of those beautiful rolling hills was one of the most amazing sites I had ever seen. We grew up on a small acreage and seeing the vast landscape made me decide that this is where I wanted to be when I grew up.

horses riding hotel resort Merritt BC Canada

Photo credit:  HipPostcard

The Quilchena Hotel in the Nicola Valley

My family and I stayed at the Quilchena Hotel in Merritt, BC,. I remember walking in the front doors and just being in awe. The staircase leading up reminded me of one of the historic houses from the movie “Gone with the Wind” that my mom used to watch. The way it went up on either side was so beautiful.

We were shown to our room but I am not sure how they managed to get us all in that one room. Furthermore, I am not sure where all my family slept but, I do however remember being so excited because I got to push two arm chairs together and that was where I slept. It’s funny now to think about what excited me as a child.

merritt bc canada hotel resort

Photo credit:  Douglas Lake Ranch Merritt, BC

Horse back riding the open spaces.

The following day couldn’t come soon enough. My sisters and I were going on a trail ride. My parents and Uncle did not want to go with us. When we got to the stables we were shown around, introduced to our horses and told a few rules before being aloud to mount up. It was a beautiful sunny day, and not too hot.

We rode out on a few different trails. When we reached the top of this one bluff we could see the most amazing views of Nicola Lake and the valley towards Merritt, BC. All I could think about was how one day I wanted to be a wrangler and take people out on horse back rides or work on a cattle ranch like this one.

I wanted everyone to see the spectacular views and experience the feeling of being as captivated by the whole experience as I was. This also gave me a passion for photography. I figured if people couldn’t come to see these amazing places I would forever capture them in pictures and share them that way.

“I remember riding out on the hills on a big black mare.” Jackie Grohs

My dream come true

I don’t really remember anything else about that trip. I remember having a wonderful time with my Uncle who was visiting us from England. The Hotel was amazing but the horse back ride was the highlight of the entire trip for me.

About 38 years later, I finally decided to take a chance. I called the Quilchena Hotel to ask about opportunities available at the Ranch. They gave me an email address for whom I could write to about a wrangler position.

So, I sat down and told them my story. Not knowing what kind of reaction I would get or if I would even ever hear back from them.

A year later, I made the move to Merritt, BC, Canada and shortly after was a wrangler at the Quilchena Hotel. Living my dream. Although things had changed somewhat, I still found the trail that lead me to the lookout. This time I had the opportunity to share it with my daughter.

” Being able to share with my mom what she had dreamed as a child was truly amazing”

Janette Warmerdam

The Quilchena Hotel in Merritt, BC, Canada no longer offers horseback riding but the Hotel and One Eleven Grill are so amazing you’ll want to come back for more.

Merritt BC resort hotel

Photo credit:  Douglas Lake Ranch Merritt, BC

Living my Dream in Merritt, BC, Canada

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Merritt Restaurants – Fine Dining in Ranch Country

Merritt Restaurants – Fine Dining in Ranch Country

“The Quilchena Hotel’s One Eleven Bar & Grill has it all!

Just north of Merritt, Canada, on Highway 5A

Whether you’re seeking a fine dining experience, a casual pub dinner, or an outdoor patio and BBQ, the Quilchena Hotel’s One Eleven Bar & Grill has it all!  It is not only a beautiful destination, just a 20 minute drive north of Merritt on Highway 5A, but the scenery is divine!
 
This historic 1908 hotel is located in the small community of Quilchena, “where the willows grow”, the name given by local Indigenous Peoples. Purchased by the Douglas Lake Cattle Company at the end of 2013, it has undergone many tasteful upgrades, in keeping with the hotel’s Edwardian-era elegance. 
 
It took me awhile to realize that the restaurant’s name, “One Eleven Bar & Grill”, originates from the Douglas Lake Cattle Company’s brand, |||. These 3 bars, from a perspective other than cattle branding, indicate the number “one hundred eleven”. Hence, One Eleven. Clever!

Clever Stuff Going On At The Quilchena Hotel’s One Eleven Bar & Grill

There is a lot of clever stuff going on at the historic Quilchena Hotel these days, particularly in the restaurant!  Not only have they completed much-needed renovations in the restaurant and saloon, they have engaged a top-notch chef, Chris Grimley. 
 
Following his chef’s training at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology, Chris worked at the Prairie Creek Inn at Rocky Mountain House and the Langara Island Lodge in Haida Gwaii. He now brings his fine culinary skills to the Quilchena Hotel’s One Eleven Bar and Grill.  Chris is young, keen, and creative! He uses fresh, local ingredients wherever possible, and varies the menu depending on what is in-season. 
 

Trip #1 to Quilchena Hotel’s One Eleven Bar & Grill

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Fish and chips, heavy on the coleslaw, light on the chips, as requested

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Summer Greens

 
 
For my first trip to the Quilchena Hotel’s One Eleven Bar and Grill after this year’s opening in May, I enjoyed lunch in the saloon with two pals. My fish and chips with coleslaw were splendid. One pal reported that her Summer Greens salad with berries was delicious and very berry-loaded. The other said that his burger with arugula, goat cheese and beet slices, was “the best burger ever”.  He vowed that pickled beets would become an essential ingredient of his home-made burgers!
 
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Trip # 2 – Here’s the Beef

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Bavette Steak

Famous for its beef, Douglas Lake Cattle Company pairs perfectly with the Quilchena Hotel’s One Eleven Bar and Grill. This is where we are treated to locally-raised grass and grain fed beef, aged to optimal tenderness, served in a variety of forms, from burgers to roasted prime rib.

Saturday nights are Prime Rib Night so I invited my friend from North Vancouver to join me for dinner. I neglected to make our reservation early enough to secure a table in the dining room, so we made our way to the saloon, where the same menu is available.
 
We opted out of the prime rib because it looked like way too much food. Instead, we tried two of the dishes I’d spied on my previous visit: the Bavette Steak and the Chicken and Pasta.
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Chicken and Pasta

 
Bavette steak is the French name for flank steak. Mine was cooked perfectly and served with cauliflower puree, a mild chimichurri sauce, roasted onions and herbed fingerling potatoes. The steak was sublimely tender and the vegetables delicious. 
 
My friend’s quarter Chicken Supreme was served over house-made pappardelle pasta with mushrooms, bacon, herbs, leek and shaved parmesan. She was impressed.
 
The presentation was delightful. We “mmmmm’d” our way through our meals, a sure sign they were delectable. 

An Exquisite Combination

We had no room for dessert, sadly. On my previous visit, however, I enjoyed a slice of New York cheesecake with strawberry salsa. With the salsa’s slight spiciness and the addition of chopped, fresh mint leaves, I found the combination exquisite.
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New York Cheesecake with Strawberry Salsa

 Trip #3 to Quilchena Hotel’s One Eleven Bar & Grill

It has been awhile since there has been a fabulous new chef in the Nicola Valley, so I was keen to return to Quilchena Hotel’s One Eleven Bar & Grill.  I called friends to join me for Sunday dinner, and I reserved a table for four in the dining room.
 
To start, my friends chose fun cocktails from a list of nine unique “Quilchena Spring Cocktails”.  I chose dry pear cider from the Valley’s own Left Field Cider Company.  
 
 
fine dining

Mediterranean Flat Bread

My iron-deficient friend ordered Bavette Steak, another decided on Mediterranean Flatbread, another chose Fish & Chips, and I opted for the Smoked Brisket Sandwich. Yum!
 
Accolades all around!
 

Experience Fine Dining in Ranch Country

 
Whatever your mood and your stomach desires, you are sure to find something to satisfy both at the Quilchena Hotel’s One Eleven Bar & Grill.
 
Open Thursday through Sunday, reservations recommended. Call 250-378-2611 or email: QHotel@DouglasLake.com
 
Cheers!
JGS