On brisk, early spring mornings, guests at Fogo Island Inn take long walks on foot trails with names like Joe Batt’s Point, Oliver’s Cove, Little Seldom and Brimstone Head, meandering along the rocky coast. After lunch in the glass-enclosed dining room overlooking the Atlantic, afternoons may be spent in ocean-view guestrooms, relaxing in hand-crafted armchairs, or on a locally guided tour of this historic cod fishing island. At night, a wood stove keeps the room toasty (although electric heat is available), especially when a fierce wind blows outside.
By late spring, icebergs start to appear on the sea, drifting past Fogo Island on their way south to warmer climates as the slowly melting mountains of blue and white ice pass the coastal communities of Newfoundland and Labrador. This seasonal migration down Iceberg Alley is enjoyed by year-round residents and visitors alike.
Fogo Island Inn will turn 10 years old next year, and this amazing property has gotten more popular each year, despite, or more likely because of, its isolated location. The inn is reached by a 45-minute car-ferry from Farewell, a small Newfoundland community an hour north of Gander. The inn is partially raised off the rocky beach on sturdy stilts; from a distance it looks like a huge white bird about to soar into the sky. First-time visitors are taken aback when it first comes into view — the four-story, ultra-modern Fogo Island Inn, often bathed in fog, is more like a mirage than an actual building.
Building a 43,000-square-foot, $41 million, design-driven deluxe inn on the beach of a tiny, isolated fishing community, population 700, was a controversial undertaking when it opened in 2013. Island residents, skeptical at first, now enjoy the employment opportunities the hotel has brought to the island. The locals are proud the project was conceived by aneighth-generation Fogo Islander, Zita Cobb, and designed by a Newfoundland-born architect, Todd Saunders. In addition, the hotel’s management has been extremely sensitive regarding the area’s delicate eco-system.
All the furniture used at the inn features designs by professional Canadian and European designers, all constructed at a small wood shop near the hotel by local residents who have experience building their own homes, boats and fishing stages. The fabrics for the hotel’s chair and pillow covers, quilts and woven rugs are hand-stitched by the women of Fogo Island, a tradition dating to the 1700s when the wives and daughters of fishermen would make the gloves, sweaters, hats and clothing for the family. Art gallery space is created within the public areas of the inn where the work of Newfoundland artists is displayed. The inn’s dining room, with its double-ceiling windows overlooking the sea, uses locally sourced root vegetables, fresh-caught fish and seafood and traditional island ingredients like sea buckthorn, spruce tips, caribou moss and dried chanterelles.
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