One of the most remote luxury inns in the world, Fogo Island Inn, was created by a tech entrepreneur to help preserve one of Canada’s older rural cultures.
A spectacular glass haven built on stilts, Fogo Island Inn overlooks a salty, rocky and windswept subarctic landscape on its namesake remote Canadian island. The hotel is one of the most luxurious in the world, drawing international travelers looking to go off grid and find beauty in the wilderness.
In place of the common pretenses of glitz and glamour at some other luxury hotels, Fogo Island Inn prizes social value above all things. Giving back to the community and sharing community knowledge, traditions and art are its priority missions.
In 2013, as job opportunities were decreasing along with the cod industry, Newfoundlander and tech entrepreneur Zita Cobb came up with the idea for Fogo Island Inn. It was intended to be a lodge that belongs to the people.
With that in mind, all surplus profits go back to Fogo Island. The business functions in a symbiotic relationship with the local community, employing the local community and celebrating its unique cultures and traditions at the inn. You can see this in the details – the art on display, the woven baskets and handmade quilts, for example. The inn relies upon the island and the island relies upon the inn, as a beautiful cycle.
As well, the Fogo Island Inn appears to be transparent about where its money goes. You can find an economic nutrition info chart on its website, showing that – after labour, food and supplies, operations, fees and marketing – 12 per cent of its income is left as a surplus. That 12 per cent is then reinvested in the local community.
The sleek structure of glass, angles and beams is a modern take on Atlantic Canada’s outport architecture. It is decorated with the art, home decor and furniture created by local artisans.
Guests get access to the whole island, with many hiking, bicycling and exploring opportunities, all while having vast blue views of the North Atlantic Ocean. The lodge offers bicycles to its guests so they can visit nearby fishing villages, root cellars and artist studios along the coast.
Every visitor gets an orientation and guided tours are available.
In many ways luxury walks a fine line with a humble simplicity at Fogo Island Inn.
The seven seasons of the island are: winter, pack ice, spring, trap berth, summer, berry, and late fall.
For instance, guests can wind down with fancy cocktails that are served chilled by iceberg fragments. Visitors can soak in a rooftop hot tub while taking in breathtaking views of the north Atlantic stars and the milky way. The rooftop terrace also has northern European saunas outside in the salty air and cold weather.
In the morning, guests receive a basket of warm pastries and beverages for snacking as they get ready before breakfast.
Additionally, all meals are available for guests. They are served in the four-storey tall dining room with glass walls that offer enormous views of the ocean.
The Fogo Island Inn website describes its dining menu as “changing daily and with our seven seasons” and reflecting the region. Those seven seasons of the island are: winter, pack ice, spring, trap berth, summer, berry, and late fall.
“Ingredients that most often find their way onto guests’ plates are those that are fished, farmed, and foraged right here: scallops with parsnips and rhubarb jelly, salt cod and shaved turnip, roasted cabbage and bakeapples,” says the website.
Besides fine dining on the local cuisine in a room with gorgeous views, or getting pampered in the rooftop saunas or exploring the island, guests can also stay in for some introverted or rainy day entertainment.
The inn has a library for guests to read about the region from its historic collection of literature, a contemporary art gallery, a 37-seat cinema offered in partnership with the National Film Board of Canada, common lounge areas with six fireplaces and a conference centre for the work-cationers.
There are packages for corporate retreats, groups and solo travelers.
In fact, Fogo Island Inn states the island is one of the safest places for solo travel and that it is a haven for those looking to forge their own paths.
“Solitary explorers seeking an otherworldly sense of repose will find quiet contemplation amidst landscapes that often feel like another planet,” says the inn’s website.
This isn’t a hostel for backpackers though many humble and artisanal elements along with the wilderness of the island may give off some of those vibes. It is a luxury inn so rooms start at $1,975 a night with a $200 discount for solo travelers. And getting there isn’t cheap either. A land and ferry pick up can be arranged for $1,000 from Gander, Newfoundland. Or guests can rent their own vehicle to take the 45-minute ferry to the island from the Gander airport.
For an ultra elite experience, if you have your own flight machine, Fogo Island can also be accessed by direct charter flight since the island has its own landing strip. There is even the option of taking a helicopter from Gander’s airport.