Why Do NHL Players Choose Kelowna?
Tourists from all over the world flock to the Okanagan during the summer months — whether it’s for the hot, sunny weather, beautiful beaches, world class golf courses, exceptional wineries, or endless outdoor activities. NHL players are no different. Each summer for the past 15 to 20 years, more and more players have flocked to Kelowna and West Kelowna.
These NHL players and their families have demanding schedules in the fall, winter and spring. By the time the Okanagan’s hot and dry summer rolls around, they are looking for a place that can accommodate their fitness training needs and still leave plenty of time for them to enjoy their rest and relaxation in the offseason.
Okanagan Fitness and Training Facilities
In today’s NHL game, fitness is more important than ever. Players need the facilities to train and get their bodies in top shape for the upcoming season. Kelowna is fortunate to have many great training facilities and trainers.
Many NHL stars and aspiring hockey players train at the Mission Fitness Gym, located in the Lower Mission at the Capital News Centre (CNC). This facility has two ice rinks, two indoor turf fields, a skating treadmill centre, a physio therapy office, and a great gym in Mission Fitness on the upper mezzanine. Travis Martell of Martell Elite Fitness can be found here, putting up and coming junior stars through intense workouts. Aspire Health and Performance is another popular place for top athletes in the Okanagan. Shane Pizzey and his team work with many top NHL players in the summer months. Pursuit of Excellence Hockey Academy players train with Shane and his team in the winter. Aspire Health and Performance is in the Dilworth area, next to Kal Tire in a large facility that includes a turf floor for dry land training. Lastly, another trainer who has had great success in developing and working with NHL athletes is Shawn Stead of Shawn Stead Performance Inc. These fine trainers ensure NHL players and aspiring hockey players can be in top shape for the fall season.
The Valley’s Many Golf Opportunities
Most of these players do their extensive training during the morning hours so they can have most of their days free to enjoy with their families, hit the lake, or head out for a game of golf. Kelowna hosts some of Canada’s top golf courses. You can find many former and current NHL players out hitting the ball at courses like Tower Ranch, Black Mountain, Gallagher’s Canyon, The Harvest, Kelowna Golf & Country Club and Predator Ridge. There are a few top Celebrity Golf Tournaments where many more NHL players fly in to the Okanagan for a few days.
The Moj Shootout Golf Tournament at the Harvest Golf Club in July is by far the biggest draw, hosting stars like Shea Weber, Milan Lucic, Morgan Rielly, and other celebrities like Chad Kroeger from Nickelback. Many of these players are great golfers and hit the ball a mile. At the Kelowna Rockets Alumni Golf Tournament in 2016, Cody Franson hit a hole in one, winning a vehicle from Okanagan Dodge Jeep Chrysler.
Kelowna’s Culinary Destinations
The NHL players are no different than many Kelowna residents and visiting tourists. They love heading out for a bite to eat at many of the great restaurants in Kelowna. A few hot spots with this crowd are BNA Eatery and Brewery, Cactus Club and Earl’s. For a fancier meal, out you can find many players frequenting restaurants like Raudz Regional Table and Waterfront Wines. These restaurants can all be found in the downtown core of Kelowna. Kelowna’s food scene has really emerged in the past few years, establishing this area as a great place for all people — whether or not they are skilled at hockey.
Where NHLers Settle Down
So where do these players live in the Okanagan? While we can’t divulge exact locations, their desired homes and properties revolve around their interests. A popular choice for many of these top stars are lakefront houses where they have quick access to the lake from their boat lifts and private docks. Others have expansive properties that feature beautiful lake and city views in South East Kelowna. The South East Kelowna properties put a premium on privacy and the ability to have a larger piece of land. The younger players seem to like condos in the city, where they can enjoy the downtown vibe and lively beaches. Kelowna and West Kelowna have great pockets of exceptional properties with even better views, many of which are very central to amenities and activities of all kinds.
The influx of NHL players moving to the Okanagan over the past decade has been remarkable. A fan can head to the Capital News Centre in August and get to see super stars like Shea Weber, Brent Seabrook, Carey Price, Devan Dubnyk and many more. There aren’t many places where a fan can see this type of talent on the ice free of charge. To add to that experience, many of the players stop to sign autographs and chat with kids. It’s true what they say: NHL players really are the nice guys of professional sports.
The Okanagan lifestyle is desirable for current and former NHL players. It also provides a little excitement for NHL fans who get a chance to see these stars in their day to day lives. No other city in Western Canada offers the of views, amenities, lakes, golf courses and ideal outdoor living conditions the way the Okanagan does. The secret is out and each year more and more players move to the Okanagan.