Resorts in Ontario for Families: Viamede Resort
Viamede Resort has a lot going for it. The location, on Stoney Lake, is beautiful. The lake itself is clean and clear. Nobody loves a weedy lake swimming experience! And the accommodation options offer something for everyone.
The self-contained cottages offer as much or as little of a true cottage experience you you want without the expense or maintenance. And their guest rooms provide a more hotel-like experience while still providing a cottage-y vibe and cottage-y activities.
The extra bonus is the option of meals on-site. You’re not missing much if you’ve never done the dishes in a sink full of lake water! But just the option of breakfast daily at Viamede alleviates so much of the work of daily cottage life.
If you’re pining for a cottage vacation without the negative aspects of such a vacation, Viamede Resort just might be the spot for a an actual cottage-y vacation with a baby or toddler.
Eating at Viamede Resort:
Viamede Resort is one of the few places that’s offers an Ontario resort all-inclusive experience. The full all-inclusive experience is an option, but most packages come with breakfast included.
Things are different during this time of COVID-19. Every provided or purchased meal is by take-out. However, during normal operating conditions, these are the dining options at Viamede Resort:
1885 Restaurant (The Dining Room)
Breakfast is served daily, year-round at 1885 Restaurant, which is the main resort building’s dining room. And from fall to spring, lunch and dinner is served here as well.
The breakfast buffet has a number of great options every morning, with a hot station as well as assorted pastries, fruit and yogurt, and cereal and assorted breads to toast. The all-day coffee and tea station is located here as well.
As with most breakfast buffets, the early birds get the best shot for variety and freshness, but the stations are replenished frequently and the servers are happy to assist with requests for condiments.
There are a limited number of high chairs.
The Boathouse is Viamede Resort‘s wonderful gastropub located in, you guessed it, an actual (former) boathouse. The view of Stoney Lake from the patio and the genuinely delicious food makes lunch and dinner at The Boathouse a really wonderful experience.
From Viamede’s website:
“The Boathouse dockside menu is guided by our locavore philosophy. The menu features incredible local Ontario meats, seafood, and produce balanced with ingredients from our own farm and forest. The food is playful and seasonal—but always delicious—honouring the wealth of the region.”
These are not just fancy words from a website. Viamede truly prepares and serves great food.
Personally, I love eating outside on the patio at The Boathouse. And my (older!) kid can wander off (within reason!) once he’s wolfed down his dinner and we can linger a little longer over dessert.
There are a limited number of high chairs for guests to use.
Mount Julian‘s chefs play with the menu frequently and make changes according to the availability of local options. They confidendently declare that you will have one of the greatest meals in Ontario.
Dining here is an adults-only experience. Often Viamede Resort plans supervised pizza parties for the kids to enjoy dinner and a movie while the grown ups enjoy a grown-up meal.
BBQ Menu & The Porch Kitchen:
If you don’t wan’t to lug a ton of groceries with you, Viamede Resort offers a BBQ Menu where you can order what you need for dinner and grill it yourself. All cottages at Viamede have their own barbeque, and those in hotel rooms can use “The Porch Kitchen” that’s equipped with barbeques, food prep tables, picnic tables, as well as basic implements, cutlery, and plates. There are even fridges to store desserts!
The Porch Kitchen is open from Victoria Day to Thanksgiving.
Food Options Close to Viamede Resort:
The taps in the rooms are fitted with filters that make the water safe to drink. I’m fussy about that stuff so we brushed our teeth with it but brought a large jug of drinking water to use during our stays.
Big Cedar Country Store has an onsite LCBO and Beer Store, as well as a decent selection of snacks and basic groceries. We typically stop here since I’m usually too disorganized to pack properly before we head up! We always want to grab a couple of bags of ice from here as well.
Sleeping at Viamede Resort:
Viamede Resort has both self-contained cottages, and more traditional guest rooms. Both are excellent accommodation options for families and offer different experiences for guests depending on what their preferences are.
Regardless if you choose a cottage or guest room, you are entitled to the same amenities: Breakfast in 1885 Restaurant, all of Viamede‘s activities, recreation programs, and pool, all-day coffee and tea located in 1885, air conditioning in rooms and cottages, TV with DVD player (and on-site DVD library), WiFi in most rooms and cottages, pet-friendly cottages, and on-site parking.
Rooms and cottages are quite spacious. All bedlinens and towels are supplied, as well as basic toiletries like soap and shampoo.
Bed configurations range from doubles to kings and many of the cottages have bunkbeds. You should bring your own travel crib or portable toddler bed if your baby or toddler is not quite in a regular bed.
Viamede Resort Cottages
There are a number of cottages on Viamede‘s property: studio, one, two, or three bedrooms.
Cottages all have one or two full bathrooms, a kitchen with full-sized appliances (fridge, stove, microwave, coffee maker, toaster, and propane BBQ), a seating area/living room, and a private deck overlooking the lake or grounds. Feeding a baby on holiday is so much easier with a full kitchen.
Note that some cottages are pet-friendly. And while (obviously) the cottages are cleaned between each guest, those with allergies may want to note that when booking and specify the preference for a non-pet cottage.
Viamede Resort Guest Rooms & Suites
Viamede‘s hotel rooms and suites are located both in the main lodge and their hilltop building. The rooms and suites come in a number of space and bed configurations, but all include an air-jet tub or walk-in shower, coffee maker and mini-fridge, and a balcony with lake or garden views. Most rooms have either a wood, electric, or gas fireplace.
The one-bedroom suites all have king beds, a corner air-jet tub, a kitchenette with coffee maker, sink, and mini-fridge, a living/dining room with fireplace (wood-burning or gas), and a balcony with lake views.
On our last stay we had adjoining guest rooms. The kids had two double beds and we had a king. It felt luxurious to have so much space and also some privacy! Our view from the balcony was wonderful.
All of Viamede‘s rooms and suites are pet-free.
Playing at Viamede Resort:
Some Ontario lakes can be quite weedy, making swimming not-so-fun. Stoney Lake does have the odd weed, but it is mostly clean and fresh. Most of Viamede‘s activities revolve around the lake, but there are plenty of other things to keep you busy or not-so-busy, depending on the kind of day you want to have.
All activities are free for guests.
COVID-19 Protocols for Summer 2020
For Summer 2020, here are the COVID-19 protocols from Viamede’s website:
In the interest of social distancing, we will probably need to change group activities and reduce seating in areas like the pool and similar.
Our recreational naturalists will still be able to show you the best hiking, or help you find turtles, salamanders, and porcupines.
Group hikes, wine tastings and similar may be cancelled. We will find ways to still offer similar experiences.
The most popular activities – self-guided kayaking and hikes, the farm, tubing and fishing will still be available of course.
Stoney Lake Activities
Viamede has a water trampoline with assorted climby things attached to it, as well as a great selection of kayaks and stand-up paddleboards. They also have a few kiddy life jackets on hand but I always believe you’re better off bringing your own.
In addition to the large dock, there is a sandy beach with a gently-sloped entry that is ideal for babies and toddlers. A play structure is located on the beach, as well as an assortment of pails and shovels.
Please note that the water is not deep enough for diving off of the dock.
One of my favourite things to do now that my kids are older is read on the dock while my kids splash in the water. Bliss!
For an additional cost you can arrange to go tubing on Stoney Lake. It is great fun!
Other Outdoor Activities at Viamede
If you can tear yourself away from the lake, there are still plenty of things to do outside at Viamede. There are nine kilometres of private forest trails for hiking or biking, a tennis court and sporting field, an 18-hole disc golf course, and landscaped gardens.
A visit to the working, on-site farm is a definite highlight for kids of all ages.
Indoor Activities at Viamede
Should the weather not cooperate or you need a break from the sun, inside you can have a float in the indoor pools, work out in the fitness centre, play ping pong or board games in 1885, or curl up with a book from Viamede‘s lending library.
Presently the indoor pool and fitness centre are both closed due to COVID-19. They will reopen once the Ontario government gives the ok.
Getting Around (and to) Viamede Resort:
Getting to Viamede is pretty painless from Toronto. The drive is roughly two hours (depending on traffic, of course) and it’s actually quite pretty.
Once there, the main grounds and paths are well laid-out, but perhaps not entirely stroller-friendly. If you have a somewhat rugged or a jogging stroller, you’ll do fine. A carrier or baby backpack might come in handy for hikes with infants or less-mobile toddlers.
My family stayed as guests of Viamede Resort, but all opinions remain my own.
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