[Interview by Mallory Peterson]
Laurel Parrott of the Kalamazoo House located in downtown Kalamazoo, Michigan was a delight to talk to and loves the Kalamazoo House. She and her husband Terry have a great desire to make every guest feel at home and make every trip a unique experience. Over the years before becoming owners Laurel had stayed at many bed and breakfasts and caught the bug to become an innkeeper herself. I had the unique opportunity to ask Laurel some questions about herself and the inn she has been running for the past three and a half years.
I constantly working on “don’t sweat the small stuff.” I haven’t mastered it yet – but it’s a great motto to live by.
Q: What’s unique about your inn?
A: We are located in a vibrant urban area very close to the theater and nightlife. Unlike many bed and breakfasts we are not in the countryside or a resort area, we are right in downtown. We love being in the city and sharing that with other people. This location is great because it caters to a romantic getaway, holiday travels, and business travelers. We get a lot of artists, musicians, and actors staying with us as well.
Q: What is your signature breakfast?
A: We serve a full cooked breakfast seven days a week with the guest’s choice of entrée and what time they eat. It’s pretty much all cook to order. We offer five or six entrées daily with several sweet and savory items. Two signature items are the banana nut crunch French toast and cheesy eggs Benedict.
Q: What saying or motto do you absolutely live by?
A: I constantly working on “don’t sweat the small stuff.” I haven’t mastered it yet but it’s a great motto to live by. I also have moved around a lot and love the saying “bloom where you are planted.”
Q: What would you say is the best thing you’ve done for your business?
A: When we purchased the house the bed and breakfast wasn’t being heavily promoted. We weren’t in many directories and the website didn’t get a lot of activity. Also, the reservation system was pen and paper. About six months after we bought the inn I got over my nerves of having an online reservation system and went with Reservation Nexus. The day after the system went live I wished I had done it sooner. We also updated the website and have gained a much stronger presence which has been an immense help to the inn.
Q: What would you do over if you had a time machine?
A: Not a lot. I would probably do some small things better now but I have learned from the past and keep moving forward.
Q: What recent challenge have you overcome?
A: We recently renovated a very large bathroom and painted the house during our busiest month. It was very chaotic but I am so please now that it’s over and I am thrilled with the results.
Q: What did you do before you started your own business?
A: Originally I worked in the hospitality industry in hotels as a meeting planner. I then took a detour and worked in education and educational research for many years.
Q: What do you like to do in your free time when you’re not at work?
A: I am always at work! But really I love to garden and read. Of course I love to travel and do so as often as I can. I also make stained glass and teach a few classes on making stained glass. I am also learning glass blowing right now. The inn is currently decorated in stained glass for the holidays but there are some permanent pieces around the inn. Someday, if things calm down, I would love to put some stained glass in every room.
Did you know?
The Victorian style Kalamazoo House was built in 1878 by the Lilianfels family who owned a large cigar company that was in the town. In the 1980’s the house was threatened to be torn down but local historical fanatics convinced the city to keep it as a historical bed and breakfast. Thus the Kalamazoo House was born.