The “resort” part of the name is a tad misleading as the accommodations are more glamping and less pina colada by the pool kind of thing.
But once you walk into the reception area and check in you immediately feel like you've landed at a home away from home.
The front desk staff Anna and Hannah are two of the happiest and most helpful people I've ever met.
The manager/owner Ben is an unassuming cool dude who chills by the BBQ handing out drinks. He's a big dog lover and our kids loved playing with Issa - a big white fluffy friend. In fact Viamede is totally dog-friendly and even boasts a large off-leash dog park.
It's also very entertaining for kids. Our little ones were never bored and wanted to be outside the whole time. They actually said NO to electronics and begged for more time in the park or on the water or just walking through the trails.
If you have kids, it's imperative you get there on a Friday, that's the only night they have free childcare. They do a pizza night and the kids get to build their own pizzas, play board games or draw while the parents attend a little event out back called The Gathering. This is where you sit on a rock and watch the head chef pull out some mouth watering meats from the BBQ, munch on some delicious cheese blends you never heard of, all while a guitarist strums away in the background. The clear view of the lake is the cherry on top.
This place is definitely for the outdoorsy type. Admittedly that's not me. But I found myself feeling like a kid again, especially on the farm tour with Ben. We ended up helping him chase down a runaway chicken. All of us had quite a few drinks by this time, so it was a comedic scene to remember! P.S. If you go on the farm tour, bring bug spray - lots of it!
Viamede prides itself on a farm to table philosophy and grows a lot of the produce they serve in their 3 restaurants, including chickens, pigs, ducks, even maple syrup and a variety of herbs. By the way, there's a no tipping policy at Viamede so keep your cash in your wallet.
The dining experience at Viamede is something I've never experienced. This is where the “luxury” part comes in. Our party of eight was ushered into the kitchen, with Ben telling us we were getting a little tour of the back end. But to our surprise, a table had been set up right in the middle. When the head chef himself and the hotel owner are serving your table, you're feeling VIP! Oh, and the guitarist was back, providing the soundtrack for our 7 course meal and multiple wine tastings. My favourite was the pickerel fish baked in clay (you get to smash it with a mallet) and the rhubarb dessert.
It was dark by the time we got into our cottage but we woke up to the most spectacular view of Stoney lake. The 2 bedroom cottage comes fully equipped with cable TV, a fireplace, kitchen and BBQ on the balcony which overlooks the lake. You could literally just reach out and touch the water.
If the lake is not your thing, there is an outdoor pool and an exquisite indoor pool. There is also a gym, but I think your time is better spent busting a sweat paddling a canoe than stuck on a treadmill. There’s a basketball court, tennis court, table tennis, and of course acres of hiking trails.
If you're lucky, Ben will take you out for a tour of the lake on his private boat. There's an architectural phenomenon that's a must see - an all glass house tucked away in the hills. He also goes fishing at 6 am so if you’re an early bird, feel free to join him for a free fishing expedition.
Downsides… there aren’t many. But if we’re being transparent, the food is good but not spectacular, and the rooms could use some TLC. There was no hot water in one of our bathrooms and no one came to fix it. The wifi only works in the main building and in cottages that are close to it. But what Viamede does really well is the little things. We were greeted with a handwritten welcome note from the housekeeper along with specialty dark chocolates wrapped nicely in a tiny gift box. Everyone you interact with is so friendly, you can’t help but feel at home and most of all, relaxed. We most definitely plan on going back.
One night at Viamede in the 2 bedroom cottage will set you back $429 in the summer, including a nice big breakfast. The rooms in the main building go for $289 per night. But you don't want to go all the way up there and not experience the cottage. I recommend splitting the 2 bedroom cottage with some friends, bring some meat to throw on the BBQ and don't forget your favourite drinks and some music! If you’re up for a fun getaway, tell them you read about Viamede on ByBlacks.com, mention my name and get 10% off.