Last month, my 9-year-old daughter and I had the chance to spend two relaxing nights at Viamede Resort in Woodview, Ontario.
First opened in 1885 and purchased by current owner Ben Sämann in 2010, Viamede has seen a lot of renovations and updates over the last decade and we couldn’t wait to spend time relaxing on the shores of Stony Lake.
Our home sweet home at Viamede
We were greeted by a personalized note and a bottle of wine when we arrived at our room in the Hilltop Lodge, which is an L-shaped bank of rooms on the hill just by the main building.
The rooms in the Hilltop Lodge are simple, comfortable, and they have a great view from the balcony. I appreciate their eco-friendly take on the little details — like not using a top sheet (though you can request them) to save on water and full-sized shampoo and conditioner in the bathroom.
Our large room had a small coffee maker, a fridge and microwave, a tub with jets, a fireplace, wifi, two double beds, and a television which we never turned on once because we were enjoy being outside and by the lake way too much.
There are also handy notes left around the room to tell you things like how tasty the tap water is and how to work the fireplace, and the front desk staff was helpful with anything else we called to ask — like when the children’s programs were and what time breakfast starts.
We felt right at home and it was a cozy place to return to each night after a fantastic dinner and a dip in the indoor pool. It was nice and quiet and we woke up feeling rejuvenated.
Note: If you’re travelling with dogs, Viamede is the place to be. No extra fees. No fuss. They seriously LOVE dogs and you’ll always find one to snuggle if you didn’t bring your own. 😉 Choose one of their cabins and bring the pups to stay — they’ll love the gorgeous walking trails too and there’s a great off-leash dog park.
What makes Viamede the perfect place for a family vacation?
The atmosphere at Viamede is casual, friendly, comfortable. Three things that I think are SUPER important when you’re travelling with family, especially with kids — of any age.
It feels like being at an upscale summer camp, which I absolutely mean as a compliment, because the community vibe is really wonderful and you feel right at home the moment you arrive.
You can always find people down by the water, or hanging out by the outdoor and indoor pools — there’s always someone new to meet and since kids tend to run in flocks, it’s a great place for adults to have a little time to chat while the kids swim, kayak, or play on the beach playground.
Unlike some resorts that make you feel like your kids shouldn’t touch anything or be too loud, Viamede is comfortable, welcoming, and truly caters to what families need on a vacation.
The owner, Ben, is always around to chat with guests and on some mornings, you’ll find him behind the wheel of his boat, taking kids out for tubing adventures. Definitely a hit!
We also loved that there are bikes and kayaks and canoes scattered around the beach and by the parking lot so you can borrow one and take it for a ride anytime.
You don’t have to sign up or rent anything — it’s all just available when you want it. If you’re a parent, you know what a relief this is because it’s almost impossible to plan a day around kids without SOMETHING going awry.
This setup gives you a little piece of mind and lets you change up your plans at the drop of a hat.
What to do on your trip
My daughter LOVES to swim, so we spent a lot of time exploring the waterfront, going tubing, and splashing in both the indoor and outdoor pools. At any moment, she was ready to hop back in the water.
The indoor pool area is really beautiful, as is the adjacent fitness studio. There are saunas, the indoor pool as an outdoor section as well with a fireplace between, and the facilities are very clean and comfortable.
There are cozy places for adults to relax if you’re not jumping in with older kids, around both pools, and with both indoor and outdoor options, there’s something for the kids to do no matter what time of year you visit. I’d love to see the pool fireplace roaring in the middle of winter. Chalet vibes, anyone?
There are gorgeous walking trails, which are well-marked, for exploring during your stay, and make sure you trek across the parking lot to visit the farm — our favourite spot! Here you’ll get to meet the pigs, turkeys, quail, and chickens.
Everywhere you turn, there’s a cozy place to curl up, watch the lake, enjoy the breeze, and sip a hot coffee — available all day long at 1885.
Viamede is perfect for families, but I could also see coming here for a solo work weekend. Yes please!
What to eat while you’re at the resort
Everything. Eat everything! 😉 Ok, maybe your stay isn’t quite long enough to nosh on the ENTIRE menu, but in the name of research, we tried as much as possible in three days so we could tell you our favourites.
We had breakfast each morning at 1885 — you might hear some people call it Club 1885 — which is the dining hall inside the main building at Viamede. They do a buffet style breakfast each morning from 8.30 to 10.30am which was delicious, and best enjoyed at one of the enclosed porch tables where you’ll have a perfect view of the lake.
We’re a big fan of slooow mornings, so 1885 was a great way to wake up. You can sit and enjoy your breakfast as slowly as you want, pour that second coffee and drink it while it’s still hot (a mom’s dream come true, really), and watch the kids play with the games and toys at the back of the hall. There’s a couch for hanging out too and the kids loved playing foosball. Win-win.
Down by the lake, you’ll find The Boathouse, Viamede’s casual dockside restaurant boasting delicious local eats and a great view. On nice days you can sit out on the patio, or pop into the dining room for tasty family-friendly eats.
The fish and chips were excellent. The fish was nicely battered, not greasy, and if you ask for the sweet potato fries you’ll have yourself a perfect meal. A friend mentioned they loved the veggie burger, so I gave it a try too, and I have to say it’s one of the best veggie burgers I’ve had. I’m not a vegetarian and I thought it was delicious!
For dessert? Get the cookie. Trust me.
The Inn at Mount Julian is an experience you won’t want to miss
I’m a foodie at heart, so I was definitely looking forward to a night at Mount Julian, a 9-table restaurant at Viamede that offers an incredible tasting menu and wine pairing that can’t be missed.
The dining room is cozy and intimate, looking out onto the lake and surrounded by forest. You feel completely transported and the food is INCREDIBLE. Everything is sourced locally, either from the farmers’ markets or from their very own farms and gardens.
Each dish was better than the next — beef, duck, locally sourced, decadent, memorable. We opted for the 7-course tasting menu (you can choose a 5, 7, or 9-course meal) and it was an adventure learning about each dish and wine pairing.
The chef will also cater to your dietary needs — if you’re vegan or can’t eat gluten, whatever the case, just let them know ahead of time.
Every single dish was thoughtfully created and at the end I felt completely satisfied, not overfull, and the maple whiskey was a perfect endnote.
And you can’t beat that view, right? That’s a common theme around Viamede. No matter where you turn, there’s something beautiful. I can’t wait to bring my partner back here for a getaway later this year.
Tip: How to fit a night at Mount Julian into your trip when travelling with kids!
Mount Julian is an adult-only experience, so here’s how you can make it happen when travelling with your whole family.
Check with the Viamede front desk to see which nights their “pizza and a movie” program is running, sign your kids up, and book your 5 or 7 course dinner for that night.
You’ll have to book an early dinner (grab a 5pm or 5.30pm reservation as the kids program runs 5-8pm) but there’s just enough time to enjoy the 5 or 7-course meal before heading back across the road to pick up the kids and head back to your room, or to the pool for an evening dip.
Sometimes you have to get creative when you’re travelling with kids, but I promise you, your meal will be worth it!
Exploring the area
This is a gorgeous part of the province and there are lots of great little villages and roadside stops to visit while you’re staying at Viamede Resort. Here are a few things to check out while you’re in the area.
Stuff’d Ice Cream, Bakery and Cafe | Stop for a sweet treat — they’re serving up Kawartha Dairy ice cream which is pretty much the best you can get. There’s an endless assortment of flavours and the serving sizes are generous!
Stony Lake Furniture Co. | A gorgeous shop for anyone who loves home decor and art. There’s always something gorgeous to see here!
The Lakefield Flea Market | This flea market has been running for over 40 years and hosts an eclectic assortment of vendors. Something for everyone! Open Sundays, year round, from 9am to 4pm.
Lockside Trading Company | A great place to stop for cottage finds and gift ideas! Plus there’s a cute bakery tucked inside full of sweet treats.
We can’t wait to visit Viamede again
Living in Southern Ontario, you sometimes forget about all of the gems right in your own backyard. While there are destinations all over Canada that crave attention, there’s something wonderful about discovering the beauty of where you live.
My friend Michelle Ferreri likes to use the phrase “embrace your local” and that’s what a trip to Viamede Resort is all about. It’s nights by the fire, loons on the lake, local food, exploring the world around you, and not having to worry about a thing.
We’re looking forward to our next Viamede visit. It definitely feels like home.