Viamede Resort is like summer camp for adults. It’s a place where relaxation, wilderness and adventure combine to create the perfect getaway. Whether you’re planning a vacation with your entire family, fishing buddies or spouse, this is a great place to unwind.
LOCATION: Viamede Resort, 595 Mount Julian Viamede Road, Woodview, Ontario
DURATION: 3 days, 2 nights
DATE: June 2016
WHO: Three adults, one toddler, one baby
If you’re looking for something peaceful, chill and ‘of the earth,’ Viamede is a great place to visit. It’s a relatively short drive from Toronto, Ontario (takes just over two hours from downtown Toronto) and is well worth the scenic route. It’s the perfect place to unwind, relax and enjoy typical resort amenities without any pretentiousness although prices are comparable to other hot vacation spots.
I’ll spare most details describing the property, rooms and history (which dates from 1885). If you’re looking for promotional type content, check out the Viamede website.
Instead, I will highlight attributes that we experienced.
(1) Natural setting. One of the first things we noticed is the ‘of the earth’ type vibe of the historical property. The owner and General Manager, Ben, is always around, greeting guests, offering his assistance and smiling–there’s no divide between levels of staff and they all pitch in to help out. You’ll notice that gardens grow naturally, sidewalks aren’t prim and proper (like other popular Ontario resorts) and they incorporate a lot of natural materials. You’ll read reviews about weeds and an unkempt feel to the suites and rooms, but it’s really part of that summer camp charm. This isn’t the place for that — it’s more relaxed and lower-key while still being clean.
You’ll read reviews that mention weeds and an unkempt feel to the suites and rooms, but we enjoyed it and considered it part of that summer camp charm.
(2) Large spaces available. We visited as a family of five – three adults with two kids under two. We checked out two different cottage options, both of which were spacious and accommodating. There’s a lot of room inside, full kitchens and dining tables available as well as personal BBQs. Inside the main building, you’ll also find room for the family to spread out — board games, couches, large dining facilities, a gym, brand new indoor/outdoor pool and more.
(3) Not too big. Not too small. It’s just right. Some resorts are so large that everyone feels like strangers amongst a crowd. We’ve stayed at many of these places and there’s definitely a time and place for it (when you want to be left alone). Others are so small that there’s very little to do and after a few days you might get bored. Viamede is like that baby bowl of porridge in Goldilocks where it’s just the right size. There’s an on-property farm, two pools, a park along the beach, water sports, three restaurants and walking trails. Viamede is also only 15.9 km from the nature trails at Petroglyphs Provincial Park, and 18.9 km from the village of Youngs Point. There’s tons to do and lots of room to spread out.
(4) It’s a great landing place after other local adventures. A lot of people we chatted with at the resort extended their stay and planned day trips and meals out in the area and came back to Viamede as that sort of launching point. It’s quietly nestled away on Stoney Lake, but not so remote that you can’t go elsewhere. So, before coming up for your vacation, check out neighbouring events and attractions and plan accordingly.
(5) Incredible staff. Viamede succeeds in creating that team feel amongst their employees, which means better service for all vacationers. Not only is the owner, Ben, an incredibly helpful person, but so too are the front desk staff, hostesses and dining employees. Everyone we met extended a warm welcome and did everything they could to make the visit a memorable one. Very few requests are “impossible” (except maybe taking traveller drinks from the Boathouse Restaurant haha). We even forgot a charger and were able to get it shipped back to us, which isn’t something that can be said for other places we have visited.
(6) Perfectly positioned for children. Everything about Viamede screams kids — and no, not screaming kids. I’ve often thought, on other trips, that it would be great to have a playground on property. Viamede offers tons of exciting new experiences for youngsters (like the farm, pools, free water sports, fishing and hiking paths) as well as other favorites (like the sandy park along the beach). Our toddler spent countless hours playing in the dirt, on the slides and running around the beach, and we were able to easily keep an eye on him. Because of the natural setting, we felt comfortable letting him run about. We never felt like he was “trespassing” on fancy property.
(7) FREE amenities. You may have read reviews that comment on the price. It’s definitely priced on par with other top vacation destinations and some people feel ripped off. But, on the contrary, the room fee includes all access to amenities, WiFi, water sports and there’s no typical resort fee that you often pay at other places.
(8) Diverse dining options. What’s great about Viamede is that you can either experience fine-dining or low-key pub type fare all in one day. The morning breakfast buffet includes all your standard fare in a relaxed setting that overlooks the water. The Boathouse Pub is located like a boat house on the water and offers delicious pub style food and fresh salads. Finally, Mount Julian is their fine dining offering with 3, 5, 7 or 9 course meals. This is a slower experience, incorporating locally sourced, raised and foraged foods that are meant to be enjoyed in a relaxing, calm environment. Seating is planned very specifically and last minute pop-ins aren’t available (must make reservations).
(2) There are no sleeping options available for children so bring pack n’ plays or compact cribs.
(3) Bring bug spray. Whether you’re heading out early in the morning for a family hike or staying out late to enjoy the sunset, you’ll get eaten alive if you don’t plan ahead. If you’re concerned about Bug Spray options for young children, check out The Honest Company.
(4) Pack for comfy, casual adventure. This isn’t really the place for sundresses, jeweled tunics or fancy things. We packed for pretty much any experience (which meant over packing) and ended up using mainly walking shoes, shorts/t-shirts and hiking gear. I cracked out a swimsuit only to check out the water sports and pool, not to lay along a beach.
(5) Call front desk before booking and clarify all check-in/out times as well as restaurant hours. Depending on the time of year, you might find that there are specific windows to eat at the restaurants. These may or may not work for your family.
Overall, we’ve had people ask us about this property since returning home — is it worth the price? Are there enough things to do to take school-aged kids etc. Yes, yes and yes. If you’re a down to earth family or couple, this is a great place to visit. If you’re looking for super high-end finishings, boat cruises and motor sports, then this isn’t the right place. We recommend taking a look at the resort offerings at various times of year and planning accordingly.