Attracting and welcoming the local community to a lakefront resort in the off season, poses a real challenge for businesses such as Viamede Resort, so they engaged Purpose/Built to help them develop a program to attract a new cohort of winter and fall vacationers.
Viamede stretches along the shores of Kawartha’s Stoney Lake and, in the summer, is a destination for vacationers from around the world. However, with no local skiing, winters have always been a tough sell, and the resort has remained closed, opening only for New Year’s Eve festivities.
Chef Kevin McKenna, one of the founding members of the Group of Seven Chefs, has been building a culinary empire with a focus on locally raised, foraged, and sourced gourmet. In Mount Julian, the resort’s historical fine dining restaurant, we saw a worthy centrepiece for a boldly different off-season offering—warmth, comfort, and a few nights of luxury to brighten the dark winter months.
We worked with Chef McKenna and the resorts enigmatic and creative owner, Ben Sämann, to develop a culinary event series to bring local foodies in from the cold and on to the resort for a tailored culinary experience. We called it, The Gathering.
Held every few months, in line with the seasons and using locally-sourced, raised or foraged ingredients, the resort throws a banquet and night of entertainment unlike any other. The resort dining room is lit by candlelight, with a long banquet-style communal table where guests are served a multi-course feast they are unlikely to experience anywhere else.
Promotion for the event includes web, social, radio, and poster advertising assets to support a simple, but highly-visible local media plan covering the Kawartha region to Durham. Guests are offered a special one-night all-inclusive event and accommodation package.
The asset design features a custom vector illustration featuring a Tamworth pig, an established part of the Viamede Farm family and a kind of informal resort mascot.
Response and feedback to The Gathering events has been enormously successful. After the first two events, the event generated a waiting list, and accordingly paid advertising has been suspended and replaced with simple social media and email list management. But don’t take our word for it…
“We have been to the Viamede several times and each time it gets better. The owner of this resort has a vision and doesn’t seem to be taking shortcuts to create an environment that takes advantage of the beautiful surroundings, history and serenity of the area. At the same time, he has hired a knowledgeable and friendly staff.
We have been to two of the “Gatherings” – great food by a localist chef who has developed relationships with local suppliers. Go for the cheese alone! The set up is a communal table, beautifully appointed. With courses that are imaginative and sustainable. We have met great people each time.
I could go on about the food… but then there is the pool and the surroundings where the garden and farm area that supplies much of the food. If you like an authentic experience where you don’t feel like you are just another customer – if you like to talk about, learn about and enjoy good food… this is a great place. It is what a gathering place should be like.”
—Gail D, Coe Hill on TripAdvisor