Sometimes our marketing approach was to donate a gift certificate. This is a great ways to advertise without any up front costs. Most winners of these gift certificates rarely ever use them.
We were asked by by the Steinbach Art Council to donate some sort of package that we offered at the Calder House and we chose to donate the "Soiree au pizza". The couple who won were celebrating their 2nd year wedding anniversary. Their package included a one night stay, pizza dinner and 2 - 30 minutes hot stone massage.
When our couple arrived at the house you could tell they were really feeling out of their comfort zone. We did the best we could to make them feel at home. We gave them a tour of the house, pointed out the areas they were free to sit and relax.
Our couple had gone up to their room to get settled in, and a few minutes later the gentleman came downstairs and asked: "Where is the TV". I replied: "We don't have a TV for our guests". As that answer sank in, you could see the distress on his face. Off he went back upstairs to talk to his wife. Within a few minutes they both came downstairs and sat at the kitchen table.
I said: "What are you doing?" The man replied: "We are watching you". Back in those early days of our business I did not allow anyone in the kitchen while I created my magic. I was always in my zone, and didn't appreciate anyone in my space. I remember feeling so so uncomfortable. I made suggestions as to where they might sit, like in the gazebo the watch the birds. To be honest with you anywhere else in the house except the kitchen. So they obliged, got up sat in the gazebo for 10 minutes and then came back in, and sat down at the kitchen table.
I took a large breath of air, and let it out ever so slowly. The were so mesmerized by the fact that I was making pizza from scratch. I was boiling my secret sauce and adding all kinds of healthy super foods into my crust. It was really amazing to me how much their minds could not fathom how to make homemade pizza.
I managed to embrace the uncomfortable feelings I was experiencing and allow myself to be out of my comfort zone. That experience made me realize how so many people are disconnected from one of their major sources of life energy - food! It also underlined a huge problems that our society has with their dependency on processed food.
From that day forward, my kitchen was never closed to my guests. They could come and sit and chat. I had the perfect opportunity to share the importance of whole foods, sourcing from farmers who were stewards of the land. Some of our most popular retreat packages were born from this experience. The most popular was "Soiree au pizza". To this day I still hear Grant lament that he misses my pizzas.
I give thanks to this wonderful couple who broke my kitchen barriers, and showed me that the love that comes from my creations in the kitchen are worth sharing with the world.
Never Judge A Book by it's Cover
We were in our second year of business and every once in awhile we would get a little fearful of who would show up.
Grant would sometimes think "What if they steal from us?" and my reply would always be; "We don't attract those kind of people".
One day we received an unusual call from a young man who wanted to create a getaway for his wife. They both worked strange hours and carving time away together was a tricky balancing act for them. He wanted to check in for breakfast and check out after dinner. It was a bizarre request, but typically you check in the late afternoon and check out at 11:00 am the next day.
I went on a hunch and decided to accommodate their strange request. I felt a little unsettled at the strange request for it meant having to do something outside of the box so to speak.
Our guests arrived first thing in the morning in time for their breakfast. When they walked in I think my mouth dropped down to the floor. They were both adorned with piercings and tattoos. I have absolutely nothing against body adornment, it's just that it was so unexpected. This is not your typical type of person who wants to come and stay at a b & b. I could hear my mother's voice in my head saying oh they must be dangerous. Funny how our parent's beliefs will sneak out of your sub-conscious every once in awhile.
When it came time to pay their bill, they were wanting to go out for dinner first, then check out and pay. Grant was feeling unsettled about the timing of this and had thoughts of them going out for dinner and not returning to pay their bill. I myself was starting to wonder if we would ever see our tattooed guests.
The guests did come back, they paid their bill, and thanked us for accommodating their strange request. After they left that night, I did not bother to check their room as it had been a long day. So I left the cleaning till the next day.
First thing in the morning I walked into the room, and there laying on the bed was a big gift bag and a card. Our guests had given us a card with a hundred thank yous written in different languages. The card was signed with a beautiful note thanking us so much for the lovely stay. They were grateful that we chose to accept their strange check in and check out times. In the gift bag was the most beautiful bird bath that you could hang in your garden. They wrote in their note that they really enjoyed the birds during their stay.
Never judge anyone by how they look or by their unusual requests because it does not reveal the truth of who they are. Our guests gave us a beautiful gift of a birdbath, but honestly, the most valuable gift was the lesson we received of not judging a book by it's cover.