Presenting: Steven and Paul from the Accommodating the Soul B& B – Spirituality and the Personal Touch
When Mary was taking the train to Toronto on her way to visit Steven and Paul’s B&B, Mary said to herself ”Anna, if you are out there, give me a sign. “ Mary closed her eyes and when she opened them again she saw a big A in the sky. As Paul was telling this story, something had just given me a chill. Steven and Paul added that they became good friends with Mary and they cried when she left. They felt they had met a soul sister. Needless to say, Mary has been back several times since her first visit.
I inquired into their personal backgrounds and Steven started to explain that he was born in Toronto into an Italian-Canadian family. He graduated from a program in marketing and started to work for American Standard. He moved into the field of human resources and started to work with disabled people for whom he organized job fairs and work placements.
Another one of the bedrooms upstairs
One day he literally had a light bulb moment, he realized that he needed a change in his life, and at the time he considered that he might open a home accessories store. Steven had always had a real talent for interior design, and since he was a child, his relatives would ask him for decorating advice. He figured he might as well try to make a living at something that he is really good at. He got as far as attending some trade shows and gathering some samples for the intended home accessories store, but in the end, Steven and Paul decided to harness Steven’s decorating talents by putting them to good use in their own bed and breakfast which they were planning to open.
Steven is also a talented stained glass artists, and some pieces of Steven’s art adorn their home. Steven has also sold several pieces of stained glass to some of his bed and breakfast guests while several other visitors have requested his help with their interior design projects.
Paul was born in Guyana and was twelve years old when he came to Toronto. He said his initial adjustment period was a bit difficult since he was used to growing up in a large family who had been living closely together. Once he arrived in Toronto, his entire family was spread out all over the city. In his twenties Paul completed his education in nursing and worked as a “traveling nurse” in various parts of the USA for three years. He was hired by different nursing agencies and worked in various cities throughout Florida and California.
Paul is also a registered physiotherapist and describes himself as an aspiring spiritual counselor, writer and public speaker. He also provides mindfulness awareness meditation workshops.
Paul shows his Camino pilgrimage passport and scallop shell
One experience that shaped Paul Kamarat was a walk along the ancient pilgrimage route of the Camino de Santiago. We briefly talked about my friend Sue Kenney who has become a recognized authority on the Camino. Paul recounts a story of when he was traveling by train from France towards the border of Spain where he would be starting his pilgrimage. He had met a local woman on the train who told him that they were very close to the famous French pilgrimage town of Lourdes. Paul decided to get off the train and spent a night in this historic town, a magical experience.
Once he had started his pilgrimage near the Spanish town of Roncesvalles, he asked God to give him a sign whether he was on the right path. Just at that moment he saw a pair of dancing butterflies, which had always been a positive symbol for Paul. He knew he was on the right track.
Paul adds that as a budding writer he has a strong interest in regular people. He said that he meets so many interesting people and there are so many special individuals out there who are making a positive contribution to the planet.
Steven also pulled out his album and showed me a few pictures of the B&B’s renovation project. Other images featured some of the special events held here and some of his stained glass work. We also went through their guest book which features so many positive comments about the guest experience at Accommodating The Soul B&B. Ever the gracious hosts, Paul and Steven had brought me cookies and a delicious plate of cheese and crackers to keep me energized during the interview. Their natural knack for hospitality is genuine and welcoming.
Just before I had to leave, Paul showed me his pilgrimage passport and the scallop shell that is the symbol of the Camino de Santiago. Steven also had a special item to show me, particularly since Paul was instigating: Steven’s artistic talent manifested itself early in the form of a blue paper-maché pig, an art project that was displayed in his high school along with a variety of other exhibits and science experiments. We all chuckled at this unusual long-lashed yet strangely endearing piece of art.
The famous blue pig
Two other interviewees were waiting for me, but meeting these two hospitality entrepreneurs was a real treat. I have interviewed many bed and breakfast owners over the years, but I don’t think I have ever met B& B hosts who enjoy the guest experience and the human connection as much as Steven Zarlenga and Paul Karamat. Both gentlemen invited me to come back and I didn’t leave before I got a big hug from both of them. Truly a bed and breakfast with a personal touch…