X Marks the Spot – Fogo Island Inn’s Severe Design Complements Rugged Rock Landscape

Posted by Rachel S on Friday, August 30th, 2013

A brand new inn on the edge of the North American continent redefines hospitality and offers a vacation experience unlike any other. With temperatures ranging from five degrees in the winter to the high 60s in the summer, you’ve got to love quality time in a sweater and parka to appreciate Fogo Island. In a remote corner of Newfoundland and accessible only by small plane, boat or ferry, this out of the way isle has an incredible new resort – the Fogo Island Inn – that’s not only an architectural gem but offers far more than a place to lay your head.

What’s Cool about the Outside of the Inn

On a rocky outcrop in the chilly North Atlantic, x marks the spot of the Fogo Island Inn and is a treasure waiting on you to find. The design is an austere pile of boxes that are all edges and stark white – as harsh as the rock outcropping it sits upon. This squarish behemoth, held up partially by stilts, echoes the traditional quadrilateral architecture of the sparsely populated nearby villages that once housed fishery workers and now artists and craftsmen. All of the 29 rooms have floor to ceiling windows that face the water, known as an iceberg arena in the coldest season.

What’s Cool about the Inside of the Inn

Every stick of furniture, all of the wallpaper, artwork and other accoutrements were all created locally on Fogo Island. From quilts to chairs to the wood in the floors and walls. Even the bedding, rugs and other textiles are bespoke and woven by locals in the Fogo tradition of “made not bought.” There is a library replete with rare volumes on Newfoundlia and the Fogo Island Cinema – a cool little theater with a red carpet vibe. Handcrafted saunas and hot tubs on the roof allows you to stargaze while you steam and soak. Their restaurant is award winning and features locally sourced food and veg – the island boasts seven different varieties of potato alone.

What’s Cool to Do When You’re Not at the Inn

As if the architecture and handcrafted luxury of the suites wasn’t enough, the activities available are so far flung from what you usually find offered at resorts that they intrigue. You can walk the rugged coast or learn traditional cod fishing. A more extended hike takes you on a historic footpath through forests, barrens and bogs to an abandoned village while contemplating migration, identity and our place in this world.

If you prefer your activities less sport and more leisure, enjoy a hands-on art workshop that offers individual attention in a dedicated studio with inspiring views. Or learn the miniature craft of matchbox collage. If you’d like a hybrid experience, they offer a walk and draw course that encourages you to experience the island in a profound and personal way. You can also pick wild berries and learn to can them if you’re there in season.

If science is your thing, take a boat ride for an up-close look at an iceberg, whale watch, get a natural history lesson, check out the island’s geology or go on a guided hike tracking animal trails. With the range of activities available, you could likely stay weeks at the Fogo Island Inn and find something enriching to do and learn every day.

Beyond a Vacation – A Cultural Immersion Experience

What’s fascinating as well about Fogo Island and its inn is that unlike in many “tourist” areas where the out of towners are both a source of irritation and revenue, the Fogo islanders open their kimonos and whole-heartedly welcome visitors to their little slice of chilly heaven. The Inn can arrange for you to spend time with a host family who will share the rich history and culture of the island with you. They also boast that you’re likely to receive an impromptu invite for coffee or a meal as you explore.

It’s no surprise that Fogo Island Inn has been embraced by the islanders – roughly 2,700 of them – because it’s the brainchild of a local woman who made it big off the island and returned to her roots to invest her high-tech earned millions in her birthplace. Zita Cobb established The Shorefast Foundation which built the inn and benefits from it such that the profits from the lodge are invested back in the island’s economy – in addition to employing a number of locals. As well as the Fogo Inn, the Foundation has established artists’ cottages to encourage the blossoming art community.

Expect to pay $550-$2950 per night for two. But know that in addition to an experience you won’t get elsewhere, there’s a bounty of good eats that go along with your room. Each guest gets a daybreak tray (a wooden box of piping hot coffee and scones that’s outside your door at dawn), full breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea, supper, snacks and all gratuities are included. Granted that Fogo Island is so far off the beaten track that the track ceases to exist but the experience looks to be unparalleled, unusual and unlikely to be repeated anywhere.


image sources: FogoIslandInn.ca, CentralNewfoundland.com, Facebook.com, CBC.ca

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