Something can be said for those who follow their dreams and live life to the fullest. For massage therapist Stefan Schuster, he knew from an early age that he wanted to find a path that allowed him to enjoy the pleasures of life. Now, with retirement in the near future, Stefan has not only found his passion but has perfected his skill to provide pure relaxation to his clients.
As a young man in high school, Stefan was always on the lookout for the next party and knew how to enjoy life to the fullest. After high school, he moved to Kitchener-Waterloo to apprentice as a cabinet maker with a focus on the European, old world, classic style. He had a natural talent for the trade, however, he realized the lifestyle didn’t quite match his life dreams.
“It was a tough trade to make a name for yourself,” explains Stefan. “I was working for an old European who lived by the tradition of working hard until you die and was trying to guide my life in the same direction. I knew there was more to life than just working hard.”
Stefan made the decision to leave the trade and transition back to school for massage therapy thanks to the suggestion from his friends. He started with an interest course at Conestoga College and discovered his fascination with human anatomy. He then continued to the Canadian College of Massage and Hydrotherapy and graduated in 1988 as second in his class.
Coming back to Kitchener-Waterloo, Stefan explored his options with his new career. From running his own private practice to joining a team of therapists, and then a chiropractor, Stefan’s constant goal was to provide the necessary tools to help his clients heal. However, after marrying his wife Wendy in 1993 they decided to open their own businesses in their home, which lead to the creation of Queen Street Massage.
“These were fabulous years, Wendy ran her bakeshop from the main floor so from 2am to 8am I was her sous chef and delivery driver,” explains Stefan. “Then for the rest of the day, she was my receptionist for the massage practice.”
Stefan and Wendy ran their businesses from their home for eight years. There were many early mornings, long days, and early nights to bed. Although they both enjoyed the work, they realized that they were missing out on life events due to the long hours. So they started exploring a far off dream they had of owning their own bed and breakfast.
“It had always been in the back of our heads that one day we would open a B&B,” says Stefan. “Although it was a long process to find the perfect location, in November 2001 we found our dream house in uptown Waterloo.”
Their business plan was brilliant. They geared their B&B towards corporate travellers while also providing corporate meeting rooms so executives could escape the distraction of the office. When corporate business quieted down in November, they decorated the house and hosted holiday parties for both corporate groups and families. By offering both lunch and dinner parties up to 30 guests, the house was constantly a buzz.
“I love to cook,” says Stefan with a smile. “One of my favourite parts of the B&B was setting up a chef’s table in the kitchen and delighting guests with each surprise course.”
Stefan was living his dream of being the host of the party night after night. He was not only enjoying life to the fullest but also sharing that love with his guests. However, Stefan also had a full-time job on the side that proved to benefit his culinary creativity.
“Since I could no longer run my massage practice out of our home once we started the B&B I applied to Langdon Hall’s Spa in May 2001,” explains Stefan. “I not only was able to continue being an RMT but it was the perfect place to watch hospitality at its finest and bring all the amazing ideas back to our B&B.”
After being inspired by the chefs at Langdon Hall, Stefan’s cooking began to evolve and focus more on presentation. He even won multiple cooking competitions and with a Twitter name of @TrustDaFatGuy, he has definitely found part of life’s joy in cooking.
“Langdon Hall has played a large role in helping me rediscover the pleasures in life and incorporating them into my career,” explains Stefan.
Stefan has now been a full-time RMT at Langdon Hall’s Spa for over 18 years and has witnessed many changes over the years, including the opening of a brand new facility in 2016. He has also mastered his art of reading the body, relieving tension, and hopefully providing pure relaxation to guests all within the treatment time.
“Not many people realize that Spa staff spend the most one-on-one time with individual guests than any other department on property,” explains Stefan. “So every day I strive to convey the most relaxation so our guests can venture off to dinner and only have to worry about enjoying every moment with their special someone.”
After 16 years of running a successful B&B, Stefan and Wendy sold their property in 2017. Wendy is now fully retired and Stefan enjoys being able to provide extra support to his RMT colleagues at the Spa.
“It has been a privilege working with an incredible team at the Spa for so many years,” says Stefan. “Because of the B&B I haven’t always been able to provide extra coverage for my colleagues, so it makes me very happy to finally have a chance to put more focus on my work family.”
So what does the next chapter in life look like for Stefan?
“Wendy and I are looking forward to slowing down, long walks, catching some sunsets, and of course keeping the party going on our holidays to Mexico.”