To introduce the Fogo Island Inn on the northern tip of Newfoundland, I’d like to drop a literary reference to the best-selling novel The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel. The hotel in Mandel’s novel is a modern and beautiful piece of architecture set against the vast wilderness of Vancouver Island. Not unlike the hotel in Mandel’s novel, you’ll need to get here by ferry or plane and set off on a multi-hour road-trip to check in. There are no signs for indication, everyone simply knows of it. And the juxtaposition is undeniably beautiful, a far away treasure that attracts adventurous travelers from around the globe.
That’s just about where the comparison to Mandel’s novel stops, though. Before diving into the Fogo Island Inn’s luxury aesthetic, I’d like to mention the most impressive and important factor of the hotel: it’s run as a social enterprise. This means that the hotel is community-owned and its profits are reinvested into the community of Fogo Island. The entrepreneur behind this genius is none other than Zita Cobb, the legendary Fogo Island resident and Canadian businesswoman who spent ten years working at JDS Fitel in Alberta. In 2006, Cobb launched Shorefast, the Canadian charity behind the hotel, in response to decades of economic and cultural difficulties her outport town had experienced. Fogo Island Inn officially opened its doors in 2013, and has been in operation under Shorefast ever since.
The hotel is located in the small fishing community of Joe Batt’s Arm. This part of the province is famous for its high icebergs, whale sightings, wild storms, and the Northern Lights. To get here one must be dedicated if not educated on local routes. After flying to Gander (or driving from St. John’s), guests must drive to the Farewell Ferry before making the 1-hour crossing to the island. From there it’s a 30-minute drive to check-in.
As The Telegraph accurately put it, the Fogo Island Inn offers an “unfussy prettiness” that is understated and sumptuous. It’s designed by Saunders Architecture with wood as its main material. The property includes a gym, wood-fired sauna, rooftop hot tubs, cinema, contemporary art gallery, and a library specializing in Newfoundland history. The suites are all furnished using locally-sourced products that include a welcome snack, daybreak service and a half-day community host island orientation.
The suites collectively support floor-to-ceiling views over the Atlantic. In the winter, the views from the dining room blend into the icy skyline. In the summer, the sun is reflected on the rugged seascape. All year round, though, the hotel is more of a warm embrace than an upscale statement. From nature-loving quirks — like the binoculars pictured above — to the locally hand-crafted rugs and quilts, there’s nothing the hotel hasn’t thought of. There are even cars available at a moment’s notice for guests to hire. They’ll even drive your rental car to the ferry so you don’t have to wait in line.
In the kitchen there are locally foraged berries, mushrooms, wild greens, fresh seafood, salt-cured meats, and some wild game. Practically everything offered at Fogo Island Inn is sourced directly in Newfoundland and Labrador. And virtually everything here is homemade and offered around the clock.
For the full experience, you can now start booking directly on Fogo Island Inn’s website here. If you can muster the price, this is a hospitality experience that offers a truly unique and purposeful approach that extends far beyond check-out.