Fogo Island is one of the four corners of the earth according to the Flat Earth Society. And gazing out at the North Atlantic Ocean from your suite , perched on stilts above the rocky coastline, you might even start to believe them…
If you want your relaxation remote and rugged, begin your journey in Newfoundland, at a village appropriately named Farewell. From there, hop on a ferry for a ride past Graveyard Island to Fogo. Windswept, wild, wonderful Fogo. In 1992, this was an island on the brink. A cod moratorium was the kiss of death to an industry that had been in decline since the 70s. With their main source of income gone, many islanders moved away. Centuries of history, tradition and culture were close to being forgotten. And then one day, a Fogo native returned home a multimillionaire, ready to restore her community to its former glory.
Zita Cobb had a clear vision for Fogo. If fishing couldn’t keep the island afloat, art could. She founded the Shorefast Foundation; dedicated to building a contemporary community instead of one anchored in the past. She built a series of artists’ studios around the island, each drawing elements from Fogo’s rich heritage. A thriving international arts scene was established using local materials, techniques and people. And thanks to Fogo Island Inn, Zita’s most ambitious project, the world can experience the island’s beauty and energy first-hand.
Designed by Saunders to echo the fishing shacks on stilts that punctuate Fogo’s outport communities, the Inn’s mix of traditional and modern brings the island’s history into the present. There are 29 suites, all with floor-to-ceiling windows and sea views, many with wood-burning stoves. There are rooftop hot-tubs, a library, cinema and art gallery. The hotel facilities are as much for local use as for tourists. This is a community hub where people can have fun and exchange ideas. Indeed, says Zita, if you ever go into the hotel and don’t find locals there, she will have failed.
Though the Inn has so much more to offer, we couldn’t blame you for settling down in a rocking chair by the fire and reading a book. But do try to tear yourself away from the scenery. Signature experiences include art workshops, botanical rambles. Or how about trips to explore the island’s coastline, fishing expeditions and more? Experience real island life by taking part in the community host partnership. You’ll be paired with a native islander and learn about Fogo’s history and traditions from a local. That might include preparing salt fish, joining a story-circle, enjoying a lobster picnic, making partridgeberry jam tarts together, or helping to build a boat.
Sustainable tourism is at the heart of Fogo Island Inn, so all profits go straight back into the community. Everything is locally-sourced, from the seasonal produce served up in the dining room, to the traditional quilts on your bed. The restaurant’s motto – “Finding a new way with old things” – sums up the entire ethos of the Inn. It’s filled with hope and optimism for the island’s future, while preserving its past.
The only downside of visiting Fogo Island Inn? You might never want to leave. They’ll find you hiding behind those stilts, gently weeping and muttering that the earth is, in actual fact, completely flat.
Fogo Island Inn is on, um, Fogo Island, off the north-east coast of Newfoundland, Canada.
All year round, through each of the island’s seven seasons.
What you need to know:
Fly into Newfoundland’s Gander airport, then it’s an hour’s drive to Farewell to catch the ferry across to Fogo. If that’s going to be a problem, the Inn will arrange to pick you up at the airport and take you to the ferry port. Or take a charter plane from Newfoundland to Fogo.