By Norah Bradford
fogo Island, Newfoundland, Canada, is an island off an island, off the radar and off the edge of one of the four corners of the Earth. Fogo Island Inn is a contemporary structure utilizing outport architecture throughout every one of its 29 suites, where floor-to-ceiling windows open onto the wildest and most powerful ocean on the planet.
Built on the principles of sustainability and respect for nature and culture, the award-winning Inn belongs to the community. All earnings from its operation are reinvested in the community through the Shorefast Foundation, a registered Canadian charity established in 2003. Shorefast uses a new model for economic and cultural resilience based on social capital and supporting local economies to help secure a long-lasting resilience for Fogo Island.
The model was conceived by Zita Cobb, a former resident who had achieved success in the fibre optics industry. Cobb returned to her hometown with a deep calling to see the community thrive after the collapse of its primary economy—the inshore cod fishery that had sustained the island for centuries.
The Shorefast Foundation is built on three principle elements: fostering the arts, establishing a micro-lending program to assist community members in establishing small businesses, and developing a geotourism industry for the island.
Fogo Island Inn is a one-of-a-kind, contemporary inn furnished with quiet luxuries. Designed by architect Todd Saunders, it embodies the new “outport aesthetic” that has emerged on the island, alongside uniquely designed artists’ studios and residency programs. The Inn’s architecture is bold, optimistic, and distinctly “of this place.” All the suites are unique, and every textile and piece of furniture is handcrafted and made locally —from the quilts to the chairs and wallpaper patterns. Natural wood floors feature in-floor heating and floor-to-ceiling windows with swing-open sections offering spectacular views of the North Atlantic.
As Zita Cobb suggests, “Fogo Island Inn can give one a deep appreciation for the wonder, intimacy, and character of the charismatic Fogo Island; this place where the starlight falls clearly, the salty sea air penetrates the soul, and the wind blows from all of its 36 directions. Its proximity to nature is constant and very thrilling. The North Atlantic is all around—and its depth, weight, age, and power are immensely harmonizing.”
Among the rooms, there are four suite categories, ranging from 350-1100 square feet, and most have a wood-burning fireplace. Suites are inspired by the mysterious and sacred islets, rocks, and shoals that lie just to the north which are viewed from each of the suite’s windows. All suites feature custom-made, organic, natural-fiber king beds; bathrooms with heated toiled seats, built in bidet and heated towel racks; locally-sourced toiletries; Wi-Fi access, iPod docks, plush robes and slippers.
As Cobb indicates, “many people have worked hard to cultivate the space that is the Fogo Island Inn… a space for imagination, for inspiration, for creativity, and for meaningful conversations. Although our Inn is very contemporary, it keeps community with the four centuries of lived experience in this place. The Inn is a place to gather and a place ‘to be’.”
The culinary team at the Inn is headed by Chef Murray McDonald, a native Newfoundlander who has worked around the globe. Chef McDonald finds inspiration in the ocean’s bounty, ingredients grown on the island, and Fogo Island’s time-honored outport cooking traditions. The Inn was recently ranked as one of the top three “Best New Restaurants of Canada” by enRoute Magazine. The relaxed fine dining menu is focused on seasonal produce and creatively expresses each of the seven seasons of the island. From a rich bounty of fish and crustaceans to diverse harvests of berries and mushrooms, the culinary team proudly uses the produce harvested from the land of their 400 million year old home.
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