I walked into Viamede Resort in the Kawarthas on a spring afternoon that thought it was winter. If it wasn’t for the strange flurries of snow and the absence of Patrick Swayze, I could have been stepping right into the movie Dirty Dancing.
I was in old-school heaven. The kind that’s privately owned and managed hand-on. That’s back-to-basics luxury with an actual wooden phone booth and orchestrated with cloth napkins and heavenly locally driven food. That’s welcoming and warm, and glad you’re there. That doesn’t require great weather to have an incredible time. That kind of heaven.
Rewind a few weeks to when I was asked if I’d like to visit Viamede, a four-season (well, really three-ish, dingy March/April excluded) resort about 2 1/2 hours from Toronto.
Umm…Hells Yeah. My last vacation did not go well, and I was ready for another one.
Did I want to bring my kids? Three teenagers on my romantic mini-break in the country? No way. They were staying home to watch the dogs, and the husband and I were riding off into the sunset. Or, as it turned out back in time to where comfort is paramount, food is delicious, and smiles are totally free.
Viamede is a little gem of a resort NorthEast of Toronto. Quieter, less crowded, easier to get to, less expensive, and definitely less pretentious than the Muskokas, the Kawarthas, which are just North of Peterborough, Ontario are synonymous (in my mind anyways) with Kawarthas Dairy Ice Cream. And now, with the excellent service and beautiful surroundings of Viamede.
I asked Ben Samann, the General Manager of the resort, why he thinks his resort is so special. His response reflected the love and care that you can see in every facet of his organization, from the incredible staff to the spectacular food and stunning grounds.
As to less tangible awesomeness, I love Viamede because it truly is a special place. We have 170 acres and 2000 feet of waterfront, for a maximum of 150 guests. We have more space than we know what to do with, which has led to projects like the farm, disc-golf course, and collaboration with a local survival school. As to our food, you experienced it yourself - we have a fantastic team that really love making good food.
Ben has been with the resort for a few years, and has made it his project to create the premiere destination in the province. From cosmetic updates to physical plant and new buildings, he has made significant improvements. He’s also brought in a whole new team of staff, many from Toronto, to create a superior guest experience and offer new services and recreation options.
Although we were at Viamede just as the lake was melting, and couldn’t really take advantage of any of the amazing activities that are offered, we could still see the attention to detail and and beauty of the location, from the expansive waterfront area to the rustic walking paths and the stunning 1872 church (what a locale for a wedding.)
Since I’m pretty
lazy laid-back, I had no problem with allowing the real stars of our show to shine: the relaxing atmosphere of our immaculate suite and the incredible food.
You KNOW that I lit that fire. I’m a woman of many talents. That was the most activity I did in 48 hours.
The food. Viamede boasts three restaurants-the Boathouse Pub, the 1885 dining room, and the Inn at Mount Julian (which offers a world-class tasting menu). I definitely ate my weight over the weekend, as well as experiencing a few food-gasms. I was almost tempted to go for a long walk to work off the food, but then it was time for the next meal.
One of our wait staff told us about the farm that Ben has started on the property, so I asked him about it. I wanted to know if they were planning on growing their own food. No, Ben told me, the real purpose of the farm is to connect guests with where their food comes from.
Well, the farm is a budding project that was started 2 summers ago with ducks and pigs. The pigs are a heritage Tamworth breed, and we are actually now getting back the piglets from one of the sows we raised in 2011. Oddly enough, we produce very few vegetables, although we will be planting more this year. We don’t really produce enough to substantially affect the menu, so we order much of our produce from local farmers.
We do a few hog roasts each year, and those come from our own hogs. Duck eggs get used in our home made pasta (and my personal omelettes at home, honestly). The turkeys are served at Thanksgiving and Christmas parties. Quail eggs will be a new thing this year, and we will see how many we can produce. During the day, all of our birds get free roam of the property, and every day at 3:30, we have a farm tour where the guests get to help herd the animals back into their pens. The friendly pigs usually come out to say hi, and often get kitchen scraps hand-fed to them.
Viamide is truly a place for all seasons, and has activities to please everyone, whether your goal is to get a great workout snowshoeing, relax and recharge, stuff your face, or try your luck at stand-up paddle boarding, hydro biking, or yes, even pig farming.
We had a fantastic time with Ben and his staff. We relaxed, we ate, we hung out and just spent time as a couple. I have to tell you that we can’t wait to go back to Viamede to enjoy the Spa, waterfront, and other amenities. And, we might even bring the kiddos with us. There’s definitely enough happening to keep the teenagers busy and out of our hair. Worse comes to worst, we can send them to feed the pigs.
Note: I was GENEROUSLY provided a weekend at Viamede for the purposes of this review. All opinons are my own, and I’m still full, to tell you the truth. And maybe a bit drunk. Their bar staff does a generous pour.