Viamede in the winter….. The first you’re hit with is the crisp, clean, fresh air; the second is the vastness of this property. In the distance, we see the frozen lake; most of the snow is gone, reminding us that spring is rounding the corner.
Ben Samaan, owner and general manager, purchased Viamede about five years ago; we bumped into him while walking the grounds after check-in. Samaan is energetic and welcoming; he regales us with the resort’s amenities, pointing out the new swimming pool and state-of-the-art gym, which we had already seen and been quite impressed with.
Viamede, on Stoney Lake, has a long history dating back to 1885. The resort has undergone extensive renovations with the replacement of some structures. The distinctive new buildings have been married beautifully with the architecture and character of the original.
The resort has over 50 well-appointed guest rooms, including pet-friendly lakeside cottages dotting the property. My room is one of the hilltop building’s beautiful ‘Deluxe Rooms’. It has a fireplace and an air-jet tub. It’s large, spacious and modern, with a highly comfortable king-sized bed and linen duvet covers, but it misses that cosy feeling – which might be rectified with a bit more furniture.
The room is equipped with a coffee maker, refrigerator, flat screen TV, DVD player, iPod docking station, air conditioning and a walkout balcony, which was perfect for nightly star gazing.
First Class Dining at Every Meal
Viamede is renowned for its big breakfast. It’s served in the dining room, a la carte on most days and buffet style on Sundays. We splurged with omelets, bacon and eggs and blueberry pancakes; there are vegetarian and a few low-fat options for the diet conscious.
Once a dance hall, now the ‘Boat House’ right on the water, fresh and inviting after a recent facelift, it’s the place to be for lunch or a casual dinner. Their bistro menu only features local meats, seafood, and local seasonal produce. The first night we ordered a delicious Hamburger with all the fixings. For lunch, we tried the “Fish and Chips” which uses local perch. The meal of panko-breaded fish was not the least bit greasy; it was divine and well-presented.
Needless to say, there is something on the menu to tempt anyone’s taste buds, from nachos, wings, and salads to burgers, trout or a rib eye steak.
Resort Activities – Do Little Or Do Everything
There is so much to do and see at Viamede – they have a state-of-the-art exercise room with the latest equipment, which you’ll probably need if you enjoy all the fine cuisine. In the summer there’s tennis, hiking, boating, mountain biking, fishing and swimming, this will keep you very busy.
While there, I signed up for the Bartending class in their Mount Julian restaurant – we made speciality coffees with Kryshelle Langford, the restaurant manager. I tried my hand at a Mexican coffee which was given a spicy rim, then infused with Tequila and Baileys – simply delicious.
Venturing Outside of the Resort into The Kawartha’s
Activities outside of the resort include tours to the Kawartha Winery, a Farmers Market tour with Executive Chef Kevin Mckenna (held every Thursday), followed by a cooking class. A trip to Petroglyphs Provincial Park, where you can learn the traditions of the Ojibway (Nishnaabe) people and visit McGinnis Lake – one of only a handful of meromictic (layers of water that don’t intermix) lakes in Canada.
Harvesting and Crafting
For the first time, I painted and decorated picture frames in ‘craft-class’ followed by another first, ‘syrup tapping’.
The syrup tapping is run by the resort’s resident farmer, gardener, and groundskeeper, Jarrod Craig. Craig explains how sap becomes syrup, leading a group of guests through the muddy trails to gather syrup sap from the Viamede trees. The sap is collected in barrels and then taken to the kitchens, where it is boiled for hours until it forms syrup consistency. Next, we saunter over to a clearing where a fire is lit, and Craig starts making maple toffee.
Craig is also responsible for the farm stocked from spring to fall with free-roaming chickens, ducks, quail, turkeys and pigs. Guests can visit the animals by taking a tour of the farm.
What I loved – no extra charges for activities, everything’s included.
** Read about 5-star dining at Mount Julian and Q/A with Chef Kevin McKenna **
If you go:
595 Mount Julian-Viamede Road
Woodview, Ontario K0L 3E0
E: [email protected]
Cost: Deluxe room ($149) for an overnight stay, including breakfast.
Location: Viamede Resort is a year-round resort. It’s two-hour drive northeast of Toronto, on the edge of Stoney Lake.
Note: The resort hosted my visit to Viamede, but all opinions expressed in this article are my own.