I have heard Zita Cobb, the visionary who founded Fogo Island Inn, speak several times about the Fogo Island story, and never once did she talk about the Inn! Zita is an 8th generation Fogo Islander, and the story is about the fish and the livelihoods of her ancestors...how overfishing destroyed the ability of families to earn a living from fishing, and the impact that the resettlement policies had on Newfoundlanders including her own father, a cod fisherman, who could not read or write. He relocated to Ontario in 1975 and died in 1988 of a broken heart after being separated from family, friends and a Fogo Island lifestyle. He was buried on Fogo Island.
Zita's commitment to Fogo Island is very personal and her attention to detail coupled with her interest in community involvement and continuity is the hallmark of Fogo Island Inn. All profits from Fogo Island Inn go into the fund that helps businesses on the island. In openly recognizing the Fogo Island heritage including the skills of fishermen, quilters, rope-makers, fish processors, cooking techniques and local ingredients, storytelling, music, construction techniques, boatbuilding, Punt Racing, there is no doubt that Zita has changed the future of Fogo Island. It has been said by some Fogo Islanders that ‘Zita came on the scene, and lit the candle again’.
Fogo Island Inn is by no means luxurious in the sense of opulent and showy: It is luxurious in that it is exclusive, only 29 rooms, all with an ocean view, using local textures, fabrics, materials, designs, and great attention to the fine details and to guest’s individual needs and likes. I enjoyed all of the choices of authentic experiences during my stay, including hiking, taking a boat ride and going cod fishing, immersion in local history, playing with the resident Newfoundland dogs, watching a movie in the screening room and simply hanging out with the friendly Community Hosts. I could also have easily just stayed in bed all day watching the calming waters!
We never closed the curtains in our room - waking up to the rugged, windswept beauty, using our binoculars to see the seabirds and the whales, and watching the sunsets over the ocean at night. The starkness of the rock all around the hotel added to the dramatic setting. It felt almost “moonlike”.
Meals were included and were signature experiences during my stay. The menus were based on what could be sourced from local land and sea. Every meal was served with a detailed explanation about the locally sourced fresh ingredients. These include: fresh picked baby greens, berries of all varieties, fiddleheads, lamb, crab, mushrooms, fish of all sorts, caribou moss over yogurt, fresh fruit juices and breads made with grains, seeds, nuts and berries - like partridge berry pastries.
From the moment we arrived we felt welcome and appreciated by Fogo Island Inn staff, most of whom are Fogo Island residents, as well as by the local community hosts who showed us true Newfoundland hospitality as they proudly drove us around the tiny island to give us an insider tour of life on Fogo Island.
I can’t wait to go back again and again during iceberg season and berry season!
The best opportunity to see Fogo Island is on our East Coast Extravaganza, Oct. 13 – 21, 2017. Click here to learn more about this tour.