I’m standing in Karen Goetjen’s kitchen, chatting with her as she makes us breakfast. The light floods through the wall of north facing windows, and every now and then she dashes out the back door to pick a tomato or some spinach or a couple of flowering nasturtiums out of her garden to add to the meal. It really doesn’t get fresher than that – a little perk guests of her Ogopogo Bed and Breakfast no doubt appreciate.
Karen has never actually stayed in a bed and breakfast accommodation before – but that didn’t stop the self described “domestic engineer” from opening her own B&B, a year ago last July.
While some might find that lack of experience daunting, Karen finds it liberating. Rather than following the conventional form, she’s paving her own path.
“I’m a homebody and I wanted to work for myself, but I’m also social. I love to talk to people and I love to pamper people,” she told The Pear Tree.
After spending most of her life up north, Karen fell in love with the Okanagan during a summer visit and quickly decided she never wanted to leave. Last winter, some six months after opening the Ogopogo B&B in Kelowna’s Mission, she fell in love with a spacious beach house on Manhattan Drive, in the north end of town, and decided it had to be hers.
“As soon as I walked in the first time, I said, ‘Yes. This is it,’” Karen revealed.
The house itself combines traditional values with modern sensibility. Think wainscoting on the walls, and paned windows with wide frames but high, sweeping ceilings and an open, airy floor plan.
Karen is hard pressed to single out a favourite feature, citing the tall windows, the decks and the overall look of the place as selling points for her. She’s also in love with the view. Her place overlooks a little park and beach across the road that help put her in an enviable location for practical reasons as well.
With the lake so close at hand, Karen keeps a stash of lawn chairs, a picnic basket, some beach towels and a couple of kayaks for guests to use. She also has two bicycles at their disposal.
There are two suites – The Manhattan and Sunset. Both are stocked with complimentary snacks and wine, and it’s not uncommon for guests to find a bowl of in-season fruit waiting for them.
Just outside is that raised garden that Karen visits frequently while preparing breakfast, full of cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers, carrots, spinach, a panoply of herbs and fancy lettuces, potatoes, corn, zucchini and squash. Because she can’t possibly use it all, she shares its bounty with her neighbour, who helped her build the raised beds.
Karen’s ultimate goal, down the road, is to have her B&B designated as a boutique hotel. While she’s not quite ready for that yet, Karen is trying to make the experience as pampering as possible. Earlier this summer, she brought in Ria Hampson and her new endeavour, Balance Tree, to offer yoga classes in a room in a carriage house at the back of the property.
Ria offers drop-in yoga sessions for guests of the B&B, but also runs classes.
She started doing yoga about five years ago, and two years ago traveled to India for five weeks to learn more about the spirituality and art of the ancient practice.
“It appealed to me because it’s multifaceted. It’s not just physical but a mental discipline, and a spiritual practice if you want it to be,” Ria said.
After getting her business degree and teaching yoga in Vancouver, Ria decided to open her own yoga studio. She launched http://balancetree.com/home in June. The membership-based site has guided videos and media that make up an online studio.
The 350 square-foot studio behind the Ogopogo B&B fits up to eight people comfortably, but on nice days Ria likes to nip across the road and do yoga with her students in the park.
This Sept. 10-12 she’s offering a rejuvenation retreat to wrap up summer. The weekend-long getaway will include a variety of yoga practices and homemade, vegetarian cuisine from Karen’s garden.
Karen is excited about providing the extra service for guests, and is currently looking for an aesthetician/massage therapist to operate out of a second room in the carriage house.
“I have big ideas for Kelowna,” she said. “I want people to see what a beautiful little area we can make this. I have dreams – I don’t know if they’ll all come true, but if you don’t dream them, how will you know?”
It was was a fun talk and an engaging tour. But it wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t share some of my breakfast with you. You’ll just have to imagine how good it tasted – or stop by some time for your own.
– Words and photos by Lori-Anne Poirier