Fogo Island Inn
Fogo Island Inn is on an island, off an island. It takes some effort to get there. And like most worthwhile endeavours, the journey is part of the reward to reaching your goal.
To start, you must first get to Gander, Newfoundland. Then, make your way to Farewell; take a 45-minute ferry to Fogo Island, off the coast of Newfoundland; and then drive 20 minutes on the island of Fogo to arrive at the inn. Once there, you’ll be welcomed into a luxurious five-star, Virtuoso hotel that is a member of the National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World.
A nod to our NG friends will give you some perspective. (For more detail, see https://www.nationalgeographiclodges.com/ .) “National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World is more than a selection of world-class hotels, it is a collection of rare experiences, offering guests intimate encounters with parts of the world not many get to know—and the chance to slow down and truly discover them. Each lodge is deeply rooted in its community and dedicated to protecting the surrounding habitats and cultures—and harnessing their magic to safeguard them for the future.” And it goes on to say that “a stay at Fogo Island Inn is an invitation to experience a centuries-old island culture, from its fishing and foraging traditions to its robust heritage of art, crafts, and lilting music.”
As a travel advisor who specializes in sustainable tourism, I have to say I was absolutely thrilled with the development of Fogo Island Inn by native Newfoundlander and high-tech wizard/ social-entrepreneur, Zita Cobb. As someone who hails from Newfoundland myself, I have been thrilled to visit, promote, and send clients to this eco-lodge gem. And I’m thrilled we are featuring Fogo Island Inn for our first luncheon in September.
Fogo Island, like much of coastal Newfoundland, was devastated by the national cod moratorium in the 1990s. But, like the phoenix, Fogo Island has risen from the ashes. The social entrepreneurship undertaken by Zita Cobb and her family is a story of revitalization; and it’s not just a story for Canada, but for the world. You can watch one of Zita’s presentations here to understand the history of the island, and the importance of cod to its economic footing. See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jF9AmFkG_b0
Diane Hodgins will be our guest speaker for our September luncheon, and as the CFO for the 5 organizations that run Fogo Island Inn, Diane works closely with Zita and the whole Fogo Island Inn team. Diane will share with us how the Shorefast Charity was created, with the Fogo Island Inn serving as the economic driver for the charity. All efforts are aligned towards rebuilding the community of Fogo Island, and showing off the beauty of the island and its people. Shorefast works to help artists and writers with the creation of studios, they help local artisans by using their quilts and handiwork in the inn, and they hire community hosts to tour guests around the island. The inn’s award-winning restaurant proudly showcases food, berries, and fish from the island. But they don’t stop there. They have created a Fogo Island furniture warehouse and have reinvigorated an older fisherman’s local/ protective union. They also walk the talk, and support local. They source everything they can in food, products, and services from Fogo itself, before gradually widening the net, when needed, to encompass Newfoundland, Atlantic Canada, Canada and other parts of the world. And yes, their work may even help influence the price of the returning cod fish, worldwide, with their export of Fogo cod to Ontario restaurants.
As someone who promotes sustainable tourism for her living, I love Fogo’s ”Shorefast economic nutrition label” – which is their breakdown of every nightly stay at the Inn, and how it pays for labour, food, commissions, fees , operators, sales, but then 10% also goes to Shorefast Foundation. Sustainable tourism, as defined by the United Nations for last year’s year of sustainable tourism development, is based on three pillars – it is 1.) travel that is environmentally-friendly, 2.) travel that supports the protection of cultural and natural heritage, and 3.) travel that supports the economic & social well-being of local people in destinations. And the Fogo Island Inn delivers on all three pillars in a huge way.
Of course, social enterprise is a fantastic reason to travel to Fogo Island Inn. But they also have to deliver upon a fantastic travel experience. So, you should also know:
- The views are spectacular, and it is the closest luxury hotel next to the ocean – its dining room offers full glass views of the Atlantic Ocean.
- The food is magnificent and inventive, and the chef is award-winning. It has been named one of the best new restaurants in Canada.
- While on island, you can hike, fish, pick berries, ride bikes, make jam, bake scones, do photography tours, paint, watch movies, embrace the inn’s adopted dogs, visit local restaurants, tour the island, visit neighbouring islands, and basically enjoy Newfoundland culture, storytelling and music.
- The inn was designed by award-winning architect, Todd Saunders (another native Newfoundlander) who was tasked with respecting the past while moving into the future as a world-class hotel. The inn’s clean white lines rise from Fogo Island’s rocks, resembling a cruise ship.
- The inn’s design also incorporates the iconic posts of Fogo’s historic fishing stages that enabled them to be built above the rocks hundreds of years ago.
- The Flat Earth Society has named Fogo Island one of the four corners of the world.
I have stayed at the inn, and have sent many clients to visit. When I checked in on one client’s recent visit, she emailed me: “Well, you know, no big deal. Just incredible food, superior hospitality, whales playing outside my window, icebergs on shore… This has exceeded my every expectation. Thank you, thank you, thank you.”
As a native Newfoundlander, I always knew how beautiful Newfoundland was. As a travel advisor, I was, and remain to be, impressed with what Fogo Island Inn does – both for guests, and for Fogo. And that is what travel is all about.
You can watch a video of my family’s visit here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RXMqGKIzG8A&t=5s .
But please do – come to lunch on September 20th, and hear Diane. And go visit Fogo Island Inn. You’ll not be disappointed.