It’s safe to say that I’m not one to rough it. A few weeks ago we took our very first family camping trip (which I’ll update everyone on in another blog post), and I’m not gonna lie. It took a lot of planning, organization, prep work, unpacking and setting up. By the end we had a nice time, but I was exhausted, which is why I was thrilled with our media invite to Viamede Resort. Situated in the Kawarthas on Stoney Lake, it can be considered the shy, quiet sister to popular Muskoka, and the resort was laid-back and rustic making it a perfect fit for my outdoorsy huzz.
It was exactly what the entire family needed after a summer filled with camps and classes. With a fam of four we snagged a cosy cottage right across from the water. The girls’ could see the playground, lake, and water trampoline from our front window, making it easy for us to get them outside and be active.
We arrived to the resort late but were greeted with a campfire (right across from our cottage), kitted out with all the trimmings for ‘smores. The kids already deemed this, the ‘best-vacation-ever’, and got their fill of sticky marshmallows and chocolate before bed (ok, bad parenting moment, but we’re on vacation, right?) From there it was smooth sailing (sort of). We only raised our voices when we had to get the girls out of the lake/canoe/playground/sand for lunch. They pretty much amused themselves with all the available toys and activities. I even got to sip more than few glasses of wine and finish a book. On my relaxation scale I would rate this getaway a success. Here’s what you need to know:
For the Kids
- There are daily events to keep little ones occupied such as the Ice Cream Social, movie night or pizza night (FYI: the resort’s daily agenda is written on the large fish tank at reception. Be sure to check it early. Your children won’t forgive you if they miss the Cookie Social).
- Water trampoline (need we say more?)
- Visiting the farm. Every day the kids can help Ben Sämann, Viamede’s General Manager, herd the resort’s collection of ducks, turkeys and chickens back into their pens.
- D.I.Y. Campfire ‘smores
- All-access to the resorts variety of water-gear. This means tweens and teens don’t need to share the canoe with mom and dad.
For the Grown-Ups
- All the gear you need for a cottage experience is there: canoes, kayaks, paddles, life jackets, paddle boards, campfire. No need to strap anything to the car.
- No cooking required, unless you want to (guests have access to an outdoor BBQ). Rooms have a bar fridge, microwave, coffee maker and sink for D.I.Y. lunches or snacks, and there is The Boathouse, the resort’s casual spot for delish local fish and chips, plus they offer a tasty kid’s menu.
- No cleaning. Staying at Viamede is similar to a hotel where our cottage was cleaned and outfitted with fresh towels daily.
- Sauna and steam room (need we say more)?
- Take a reprieve from the water and enjoy an afternoon tasting. We missed the whiskey, but sipped a variety of beer. There was even a bartending tutorial and a cooking class.
- A meal at Mount Julian. This is a must. Chef Kevin McKenna, who uses local ingredients (most of them found and foraged on site) to create a seriously, mouth-watering meal. We experienced the 7-course tasting menu and couldn’t get over the corn crusted sunfish, roast Ontario duck breast, 12-month aged goat’s milk cheese and Dylan’s (he’s the pastry chef) melt-in-your-mouth-but-crispy, olive bread.
- Tip for parents who want to eat at Mount Julian (this is pretty much an adult-only atmosphere): make your reso for a Friday. This is when the resort has a kid’s pizza making, eating and movie night. You can drop off the wee ones, have your date night and pick them up at 9pm. Talk about awesome.
- The indoor/outdoor pool is open at night. Perfect for a midnight dip. In the winter the pool is heated and the outdoor fireplace is burning.
- Coming this fall is Viamede Academy, a selection of themed events such as The Art of Simple Living, The Lost Art of Grooming, Urban Farming, even Warcraft: The Etiquette and Skills of War. I particularly want to return for Parlour Tricks, where I can learn the art of dignified gossiping while perfecting my knitting. For realz.