595 Mount Julian-Viamede Rd., Woodview, Ont.
The Pitch A year-round lakeside resort in the Kawarthas region, a two-hour drive from Toronto, Viamede is rustic, relaxed and an escape from life’s daily routine. The resort has been a presence on the shores of Stoney Lake since 1885 — touches of history are peppered throughout the property in the form of wooden phone booths, weathered flags, and an old piano— and is a popular gathering spot for local cottages who can anchor near the property and stop by for a meal or drink. Viamede’s 165 acres include a beach, indoor and outdoor pools, six kilometres of private forest trails and the cutest chapel this side of Vegas. Winter guests can enjoy guided cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, hockey and skijoring, skiing while being pulled (or accompanied, depending on your speed) by a dog. There are also two restaurants on site, including a fine-dining one. A diverse activity schedule is also organized by the hotel (think games, crafts, movie nights), particularly appealing to parents who might want some time to themselves. Whether a family, couple, or group of friends, Viamede Resort positions itself as a charming city break where R&R is the priority.
What We Love This is the cottage experience for people who don’t have a cottage. Viamede, in its main lodge and Hilltop building, has deluxe and one-bedroom suites, but also has several private cottages (in one-, two- and three-bedroom configurations) — each with its own fully-kitted out kitchen, barbecue on the deck and lake view. The cottages, designed and decorated with an ideal mix of modern luxury and rustic charm, are the perfect lodging for those looking to add some privacy to their retreat from the city. Of course, there are plenty of things to take advantage of in the main lodge, which is only a couple minutes walk from the cottages. Namely, the resort’s indoor/outdoor pool, sauna and steam room. Why head to a pool when you could swim in the lake? A valid question, but the pool room’s floor-to-ceiling glass wall — offering gorgeous views of the lake — mean those taking a dip in the pool’s heated waters get the best of both worlds.
Don’t Miss The forest-to-table tasting menu at Mount Julian restaurant. Commit to five, seven or nine courses, and the wine pairing as well. Chef Kevin McKenna’s menu, based on foraged and seasonal local foods, is ever changing so guests are always sure to have something new. Dinner here during a stay is a must — as is a slice of the fresh bread (if your diet is carb-light, an exception must be made). I was so taken with the vegetable-ash bread I bought a loaf from the kitchen to take home as a souvenir.
Rooms from $289 per night; cottages from $349 per night (both summer rates)