Close this search box.
Fogo Island Inn hotel
All products are chosen independently by our editors. The Great Address may earn a commission on items purchased.

An immensely inspirational inn that is defining a ‘new’ Newfoundland across food, architecture, design, craft and art, on the austerely beautiful Fogo Island

The ultimate in pure escapism & pristine beauty

Astounding in its seclusion and immense beauty, Fogo Island Inn is full of magic and enchantment. The architecture, the remote location, the incredible landscape, the design creativity, the artistic heritage, the genuine authenticity and the story behind the legendary inn will leave guests in awe and make them want to stay forever.

Nestled in the windswept landscape off the rugged coast of Newfoundland, with the wild Atlantic as a backdrop, guests may revel in one of Canada’s most untouched landscapes and absorb the serene beauty of the extraordinarily scenic natural spectacle that lies at their doorstep.

Fogo Island Inn architecture and design

Fogo Island Inn is an enlightening architectural and artistic marvel, built by local artisans and global designers. Its exterior is an essay in masterful modernity – glass walls, clean lines and metal stilts – that contrasts with the poetic austerity of the surrounding landscape. Inside, it is a treasure trove of folk crafts, from hook rugs and quilts made by a guild of local artisans, to exquisite dining made with locally grown ingredients. Every one of the 29 one-of-a-kind guestrooms and suites offers dramatic floor-to-ceiling windows that open onto the wildest and most powerful ocean on the planet.

A stay at Fogo Island Inn is a personal invitation to become part of a centuries-old culture, to fish for cod as the islander’s ancestors did, to forage for wild mushrooms, to watch boat builders or artists at work, to sit back and listen to the lilt of local music. Fogo Island’s 200 kilometres of trails and paths make this near-North, other-worldly place a destination for hikers, walkers and nature lovers of all descriptions.

In the spring, the inn offers a front-row seat to massive floes heading down Iceberg Alley from Greenland to the North Atlantic. In the summer and fall, guests may hike the idyllic trails in search of native berries and view wildlife such as caribou, foxes, puffins and migrating whales, whilst in the winter, guests will find ice fishing, picturesque snowfalls and plenty of cosy fires.

The inn is owned by a charitable foundation, with 100% of operating surpluses reinvested into the community to help secure a sustainable and resilient future for Fogo Island. What was once considered a high-stakes tourism gamble is now an award-winning inspiration.
Architecture and design lovers, adventure seekers, nature enthusiasts, experiential travellers, avid photographers and bird and wildlife watchers will discover a world apart at this highly unique and very inspirational retreat.

Cliffs on Fogo Island

An extraordinary architectural masterpiece where the design serves as an impressive yet conscientious connection between the striking building and the stark landscape

A breathtaking composition of sharp angles and strong lines, Fogo Island Inn stands proudly as a triumph of contemporary architecture, built with a profound respect for nature.

But as much as it might stand out in its setting, the inn is completely tied to Fogo Island and the architectural traditions of Newfoundland outports in the way it sits in the spellbinding landscape, and with the materials used.

Meticulously designed by Newfoundland-born, Norway-based architect Todd Saunders, the inn’s architecture is dramatic and optimistic, with a strong and distinct sense of place.

The Fogo Island Inn stands with impressive fortitude atop a cluster of steel pillars on an outcropping of rock. A simple, linear structure formed of two intersecting rectangular spaces, the inn echoes the jagged asymmetry of the landscape it inhabits, while infusing the topography with a thoroughly contemporary architectural aesthetic.

Newfoundland winter

Engaging with Fogo Island’s architectural, aesthetic, artistic, historic and cultural heritage was a priority in the design of the building and a key asset in its construction. The contemporary structure, cantilevered on stilts, emerged out of a 400-year-old vernacular tradition and takes its inspiration from Fogo Island’s plethora of traditional fishing stages, over-water fishing huts built on stilts.

Originally, Newfoundland’s outport settlers were not permitted to build permanent structures or dwellings: prohibited from taking up permanent residence, they were expected to eventually return home to England or Ireland after having fished Fogo Island’s waters. As a result, early buildings were constructed of wood rather than more durable stone. These wooden structures were placed atop wood stilts, which were called “shores”, instead of atop stone foundations.

These shores underpin many of the buildings on Fogo Island — including Fogo Island Inn — with its rocky, undulating topography and fierce coastal waters. Dozens of narrow structural steel columns support the inn, whilst minimising the overall building footprint and impact on the rocks, lichens and plants that make up the coastal landscape.

With the inn’s strong, precise forms and expanses of crisp white, broken up by a warm palette of natural materials, simplicity gives way to the most beguiling complexity. The lucidity and minimalism add volume to the structure.

The architect decided to build the facade using an inventive pattern of horizontal shiplap and vertical black spruce boards milled in the region, blending modern design methods with local craftsmanship to spectacular effect. Seen from certain angles and in certain weather, the inn appears to be a lumbering ship, only temporarily at rest while waiting out a storm.

The subtly X-shaped structure – 91 metres long by nine metres wide – is comprised of a 2-storey wing containing public spaces, and an intersecting 4-storey wing containing 29 guestrooms, all facing the ocean.

The lobby with woodburner and tall windows overlooking the ocean below

The creation of the inn was a highly collaborative, 8-year process, involving local makers and artisans, as well as international architects and designers. They researched traditional approaches, materials and implementations, reimagining them in a contemporary expression.

The overall result is a masterful and thoughtful exercise that retained the richness of outport Newfoundland traditions whilst employing the visual language of boldly contemporary aesthetic: uncluttered, understated and cool yet timeless – all set off by the drama and theatrics of the unforgiving wilderness.

Inside, the hotel offers a warm and inviting retreat set against the stark beauty of the island. The clean lines and comfortable but utilitarian approach to the interior design lend the hotel spaces a touch of Scandinavian feel, reinforced further by the organic, natural materials and blond wood floors. Then, local accents such as handcrafted furniture, brightly patterned quilts, bold wallpaper prints and wood-burning stoves give the suites a strong sense of place. Glass curtain walls eliminate a boundary between the interior and nature, revealing the dramatic landscape in its full glory.

Since the beginning of the European settlement in the late 1600s, Fogo Islanders have been building their own wooden boats, houses, tools and furniture. In keeping with this handmade tradition, nearly all of the furniture and furnishings inside Fogo Island Inn were designed and created on Fogo Island and specifically for use there.

The furniture is the result of an innovative collaborative process between contemporary designers from North America and Europe, and skilled local artisans from Fogo Island and Change Islands. They fused the old with the new, the traditional with the contemporary, instilling a high degree of timelessness and originality throughout the property.

The Fogo Island Inn, however, is able to bring a sense of balance between pared-down luxury and quiet solitude in nature and a cutting-edge, yet warm and welcoming hotel.

Each stylish guestroom enjoys a magnificent vista of the immense and eternal Atlantic that bleeds into the horizon

Running parallel to the seafront, the inn’s 29 one-of-a-kind guest bedrooms afford breathtaking views of the wild Atlantic Ocean through the dramatic windows that run floor to ceiling and are fitted with swing-open sections.

Room 19 with floor to ceiling windows providing unobstructed ocean views

In each of the tastefully decorated suites, the bed is placed in front of the windows to maximise the commanding water and coastal views. All of the inn’s rooms were created using only natural materials such as wood, wool, cotton and linen. The only plastic in the guestrooms is the telephone.

Wooden floors enhance the bedrooms’ overall chic aesthetics. Every piece of furniture and textile in the bedrooms has been handcrafted by Fogo Island woodworkers and artisans, a style they call “handmade modern”.

At every turn, the opportunity was seized to incorporate joy and accents of colour into the guestrooms. There are whimsical touches such as custom-designed wallpaper, brightly coloured hooked mats and fantastical furniture pieces that play off of traditional motifs, ultimately adding something new and exciting to the furnishings landscape of Fogo Island. Each guestroom is adorned with key furniture pieces such as Elaine Fortin’s boat-inspired punt chair, Donna Wilson’s plush Berta chair, and Ineke Hans’ cushioned rocking chair.

collage of three rooms at the Inn

All guestrooms are decorated with traditionally patterned quilts that are custom-made for Fogo Island Inn by island quilters. The inn’s quilts use natural vintage fabrics in an assortment of colours and patterns, and were inspired by Fogo Island’s long-standing quilting tradition. Though made new for the inn, they reflect patterns authentic to the island and breathe new life into the common strip quilt, crazy quilt and heritage quilt styles.

Rooms, located on the third and fourth floors, come with glowing wood-burning stoves that provide a cosy atmospheric ambience. The ceilings in the fourth-floor rooms follow the dramatic slope of the roof, resulting in three rooms enjoying double-height spaces, with the sleeping area located on the mezzanine level.

A few well-judged modern touches – such as underfloor heating, walk-in showers and heated toilets – create a sense of comfort, wellness and luxury. Great care was taken to provide exceptional sound-proofing in order to ensure that guests hear only the sounds of the nearby ocean waves.

View from room 26

Wake up to the dramatic interplay of sky and sea, and find a daybreak basket brimming with coffee, fresh-pressed juice and pastries left outside the bedroom door.

Culinary excellence in a dramatic setting of immense beauty

One of the inn’s most iconic spaces, the showstopping restaurant, makes the most of its wild surrounds with stunning views and an exceptional menu that celebrates the terroir and the current season.

The dining room features a dramatic soaring ceiling and walls of windows looking out over the ever-changing vistas year-round, with views of the community of Barr’d Islands in the distance. Depending on the season, guests seated in the dining room may watch drifting icebergs, breaching whales, formidable North Atlantic storms, or heart-stopping sunsets with skies streaked tangerine and crimson – all while dining and toasting their good fortune. Expect to be moved – and to never forget.

Dining room with large windows facing the ocean

Floors are blonde wood and walls are crisp and whitewashed. The spaces are minimalist and the glass walls allow the panoramic vistas to take centre stage. Each piece of hand-built furniture tells a story.

The double-height dining room’s distinctive chandeliers were conceived by Dutch designer Frank Tjepkema, and are an amazing piece of art and a nice reminder of the cultural identity of the region. The chandeliers were fashioned from ordinary rope and form an elaborate, airy pattern that brings to mind the making of fishing nets and sailing knots.

Led by Executive Chef Jonathan Gushue, the restaurant dazzles with a menu that is remarkable in its sophistication and flair, whilst managing to reach gastronomic heights with a refreshing lack of pretension.

A representation of visual and gastronomic poetry, this is where nature, history and culture come together to form a modern expression of seasonality and locality.

Perched in the Labrador Current, the desolate subarctic landscaped island is bounded on all sides by the rich North Atlantic. Changing with the wind and the waves and the destination’s seven seasons, the dining menu reflects the bounty of fresh, local ingredients from land and sea. Ingredients that most often find their way onto guests’ plates are those that are fished, farmed, hunted, harvested and foraged right here. Everything coming out of the kitchen is handmade – from bread to mustards.

Fine dining served at Fogo Inn

Depending on season, highlights may include Scallops with parsnips and rhubarb jelly; Salt cod and shaved turnip, roasted cabbage and bakeapples; Snow crab with lettuce sauce, vanilla and apple; Lobster carpaccio and pickled carrots; Rabbit with yellowfoot chanterelles, little dumplings and confit garlic; Slow cooked cod with potato butter, caviar and spring onion; Moose tartare with partridgeberry and kale chips; and Glazed duck breast with turnip and apple puree and spiced honey jus.

After dinner, if weather permits, ask a host to prepare a basket for s’mores – a night-time treat made over a campfire from marshmallows, chocolate and graham crackers – and head outside to the firepit for a little stargazing.

Beyond the traditional dining times, afternoon tea, daybreak trays at sunrise and hearty picnics taken elsewhere on the island are available.

A lively space for gathering, celebrating and unwinding, the inn’s Bar and Lounge offers a laid-back spirit conducive to starting the day with a cappuccino or wrapping it up with a cocktail. Featuring ample comfortable seating, the Bar and Lounge is regularly visited by local musicians.

Unique amenities and comforts designed for enjoyment, inspiration, contemplation and pure relaxation

Beyond the guestrooms, restaurant, lounge and bar, the inn has a number of spaces for communal use.

Installation at the art gallery

Serving dual roles as an arts incubator and year-round hotel, the inn features the Fogo Island Gallery. Curated by Fogo Island Arts, the contemporary white cube art gallery showcases the works of selected artists who have participated in the international residency programme. The goal of the public gallery is to provide diverse audiences – local and global – with opportunities to engage with contemporary artworks informed by the specificities of place. Thus far, Fogo Island Gallery has presented solo exhibitions by an international array of talent, including Kate Newby, Zin Taylor, Silke Otto-Knapp, Hannah Rickards, Edgar Leciejewski, Isa Melsheimer, Leander Schönweger and Wilfrid Almendra.

The Heritage Library features an extensive collection of fiction and non-fiction works pertaining to the history and culture of Newfoundland and Canada, and is available for use by the inn’s guests as well as the general public of Fogo Island.

Many of the books in the library originated from the private collection of the late Dr. Leslie Harris, former president of Memorial University of Newfoundland. Dr. Harris possessed a superb personal collection of Newfoundlandia, including a wonderful range of materials pertaining to rural Newfoundland life, the fisheries, wildlife and the sea.

The inn’s collection was further expanded when Harry and Doreen Cuff donated a copy of every book they published in their long history of producing Newfoundland books. The resulting library is a rich and meaningful assemblage of works that help orient guests to all that Fogo Island and Newfoundland have to offer. The library is cosy and comfortable, and contains one of the inn’s six public wood-burning fireplaces.

The 37-seat Fogo Island Inn Cinema, featuring a state-of-the-art digital projection and sound system, is a partnership with The National Film Board of Canada. The cinema is an independent box that sits within the greater building, and is literally built as a black box inside the inn’s generally white space. A red staircase, seats and curtain carry patrons through the space in red carpet style.

The cinema doubles as a lecture theatre, and presents daily scheduled programming as well as impromptu special film showings and presentations. The inn’s collection includes classic National Film Board documentaries, films about Fogo Island and an exciting collection of crowd-pleasing contemporary blockbusters and cult classics.

Graced with two walls of floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the craggy coastline and, in the distance, the community of Barr’d Islands, the inn’s gym includes treadmills, elliptical machines and weight-training equipment. The gym also features floor space for yoga and pilates.

Graced by an endless view of the North Atlantic, the fourth-floor rooftop deck houses the inn’s wood-fired sauna and two outdoor hot tubs and provides the ultimate spot for unwinding in indulgent seclusion.

The south-facing saunas receive direct sunlight with inland views of the rocks and churches. To the north, a sauna enjoys views of the sea and is a great way to take in the landscape. Located at the end of the roof deck, the inn’s two hot tubs treat guests to awe-inspiring panoramas of the North Atlantic and unforgettable stargazing.

Outdoor hot tub at Fogo Island Inn, Newfoundland

A short walk from the inn sits the Fogo Island Shed. It is inspired by the local traditional pitched-roof house, the form pared back with the use of old and new materials and construction techniques. The result is a balance in geometric simplicity. There is no electricity, with illumination from kerosene lamps. This is a deliberate throwback to a simpler age that allows one to focus the mind and increase awareness of the seasons and the light.

The interior is dominated by an unbroken run of glazing that fronts onto the landscape. The rough-hewn furniture was designed and built on the island. The long table is ideally placed for guests to experience the view and the volumes defined by the space, the environment and the light.

The striking and spacious meeting room is multi-functional and has been employed for every type of event, from concerts to corporate retreats. Offering similarly stunning ocean views to those of the inn’s guestrooms, the meeting room is a great place for intense discussions, deep thinking, creative brainstorming and teamwork, a place that is bound to spark powerful breakthroughs.

It features an oversized meeting table, in-ceiling projection screen with projector, ample seating, banquet seating overlooking the dining room, a grand piano, wood-burning fireplace and floor-to-ceiling windows that open to the sweeping vistas of the sky, shoreline and North Atlantic. Free time may be consumed sipping champagne, gazing at the stars, enjoying the rooftop hot tub or grabbing a set of binoculars to spot puffins, whales and caribou.

Offering the possibility of being privatised for exclusive use, Fogo Island Inn is an architectural gem with stunning design aesthetics – an extraordinary venue for every type of celebratory gathering. Guests will have private use of the restaurant, lounge and bar as well as the 29 bedrooms. For a gathering of up to 60 guests, Fogo Island Inn provides a unique venue for organising private celebrations including birthdays, anniversaries, parties and weddings.

Celebrate the day with a bonfire on the 420-million-year-old rocks at the edge of the North American continent. Offer a toast in the rooftop hot tubs and gaze up at a billion stars. Create a unique Newfoundland party, in an amazing environment filled with laughter, great moments and unforgettable memories.

Artist studios and Fogo Island Arts

Fogo Island offers the perfect environment for creativity, with the grandeur of its natural landscapes and its slow pace of life. Dotted around the island are a series of artist studios, designed by Todd Saunders for artists-in-residence, operated by Fogo Island Arts and funded by the Shorefast Foundation.

Artist studios on Fogo Island

Fogo Island Arts’ ambitious artist-in-residence programme provides opportunities for visiting creatives from a wide range of disciplines – artists, filmmakers, writers, musicians, curators, designers and thinkers from around the world – to live and work on Fogo Island for periods ranging from one to six months. Artists-in-residence are provided with accommodation and studio space. The artists work in their own studios and live in traditional restored homes in the community.

Selected artists are invited to present their work in exhibitions at the Fogo Island Gallery, which is located in the Fogo Island Inn.

The four artist studios are architecturally striking with their clean-lined design, giving way to a new Newfoundland architecture but also in a way that embraces the traditional character of the buildings.

Anchored into the landscape by steel legs, the studios range in size from 200 to 1,200 square feet. Each artist’s studio building showcases a unique asymmetrical design in keeping with the inn’s architectural vernacular. Set against the backdrop of untrammelled countryside, the four studios are works of art themselves.

Modern and eye-catching, the studios stand in stark, exciting contrast to Newfoundland’s austere landscape. Peppered across Fogo Island, the artist studios are all accessible by hiking trails.

A unique community host programme

Historical isolation from the mainland, combined with lives lived in intimate and profound entanglement with the forces of nature, have created a place of fascinating stories and traditions.

Joe Batts Arm Fogo Island a winter's day

Unique to Fogo Island Inn, the Community Host Programme engages an ever-expanding group of local people as experts to introduce guests to island life.

The Community Hosts are passionate, lifelong Fogo Islanders whose families have lived here for 400 years or so, and who are pleased to offer their insights into the Island’s natural and cultural heritage, guiding guests through the curiosities and particularities of the island’s seasons – all seven of them! They have fished the island’s shores, picked its berries, climbed its rocks, driven its roads and walked its trails hundreds of times.

Community Hosts will bring guests into their world for cabin time in the woods, a seafood boil-up over an open fire, or a friendly game of shinny hockey. Meet the people – artisans, boatbuilders, musicians, chefs, fishermen and innkeepers – who are working to preserve Fogo’s cultural traditions.

Each stay at the inn includes a half-day, customised island orientation with a Community Host.

The inn also has a host of guides for natural adventures such as multi-day intensive hikes, educational geological walks, fishery tours and contemplative island rambles. Guests may also join the inn’s naturalists, geologists-in-residence and community hosts for guided hikes.

Authentic luxury with eco-friendly, sustainable practices

Sustainability is top of the inn’s agenda, with numerous practices to minimise negative, and embrace positive impacts.

icebergs, Newfoundland

The inn’s environmental impact has been carefully considered. Ecological and self-sustaining systems were subtly integrated from the beginning of the project, incorporating the latest technologies to reduce and conserve energy and water usage. Locally sourced, sustainable building materials were chosen whenever possible for everything from floors to furniture. The high level of sound-deadening technology between guestrooms ensures only the sound of the nearby waves will be heard.

Recycling and composting programmes, rainwater catchment systems and renewable solar and wood-burning energy sources are in place throughout. As well, local organic and seasonal food is a priority.

Outdoor activities galore – a vast realm of adventure and wonder during seven seasons

Reflecting the changes in the island’s winds and weather, Fogo Island experiences seven distinct seasons. Each one offers something substantially different – from snowshoeing and watching icebergs, to foraging for berries and sitting by bonfires on cool summer nights.

The seven seasons include warm Summers, snowy Winters, a spectacular Pack Ice Season, hopeful Spring, June’s Trap Berth Season, bountiful wild berry picking in autumn’s Berry Season, and a temperamental Late Fall. Throughout the year, Fogo Island is undeniably magical.

Fogo Island in summer

Winter (December – February): Here, winter is what one makes of it, and Fogo Islanders know how to make it spectacular. Exuberant days are spent snowmobiling, skating, snowshoeing and tobogganing. The ponds are sheltered from harsh coastal winds and are the ideal location for ice fishing and games of hockey. Indoors, board games, reading, laughter and conversation abound.

Pack Ice (March): Set within the powerful Labrador Current, Fogo enjoys the arrival of the pack ice which creaks and groans, then sparkles and shimmers when the sun comes out. Seabirds circle and seals take a rest on the floating ice. This is a dramatic season, perfect for photography. Locals and visitors enjoy the longer and sunnier days, yet snowmobiling and snowshoeing are still quite possible.

Spring (April – May): As the ice recedes, vegetation begins to peek through the melting snow and fishers bring out their boats onto the harbours in pursuit of crab and shrimp. Icebergs float past. This is an ideal time to get outdoors and amble the footpaths.

Trap berth (June): It is the time for the traditional staking out of fishing grounds, an activity conducted amongst the bobbing icebergs. Days are long and warm and wildflowers dot the landscape. Whales pass by. Long hikes, bonfires along the coastline and boil-ups are popular. Once the sun finally dips below the horizon, stargazing is a must.

Summer (July – August): Southerly breezes bring in the warmth. The island is in full bloom, with grassy hills dotted with blue-flag iris, Canadian mayflower, orchids, goldenrod, asters, violets and Newfoundland’s provincial flower, the stunning pitcher plant. Water lilies dot the ponds.

The trails are at their best for walking, biking or just ambling. On the coast, beachcombing is popular. There are summer music festivals. Offshore, icebergs bob past. Hand-line for cod, row a punt, fish inland, visit museums, tour gardens, build a bonfire. Swimming is pleasant in the inland ponds, whilst the brave visitor may prefer the chilly ocean waters off Sandy Cove Beach at Tilting.

Berry (September – October): When the dozens of island varieties of edible berries begin to ripen, islanders are joined by Fogo Island Inn guests to sample the harvest. Bakeapples, crowberries, marshberries, partridgeberries, blueberries and raspberries abound. This is the time to attend the Fogo Island Partridgeberry Harvest Festival. Bottling and canning preserves begins.

The Feile Tilting celebrates Tilting’s Irish heritage. Watch seabirds and caribou or help the locals smoke their fish.

Late fall (November): The waves commence to grow as winter approaches. Those up for the adventure might choose to continue their seabird and caribou watching. Wrap up against the cooling evenings for bonfires or spend the day on a hike.

Diverse flora and fauna and untamed wildlife

The island enjoys a maritime subarctic climate. Bird species include puffins, razorbills, bull birds, snowbirds, evening grosbeaks, king eiders, harlequin ducks, white-winger scoters and gannets. Off the main island is the Little Fogo Islands archipelago, a favourite spot for puffins to nest amongst the hills.

Ice bergs outside Newfoundland

Each summer, pods of whales visit, their breaching backs and tails quickly spotted even from the inn. Waters are filled with species of fish, king of which is the cod, which formed the backbone of the island’s culture and economy for centuries. Trout abound in the ponds and are a favourite catch in summer, whilst ice fishing is popular in the cold months.

Stop along the way to enjoy the wild mushrooms and lichens, as well as the moss and algae that happily co-exist along the coastal rocks.

Caribou were placed on Fogo Island in the mid-20th century and continue to roam and thrive. The Island also features the regular Canadian menagerie, including foxes and coyotes.

A visionary and truly inspirational founder and philanthropist

The story of Fogo Island Inn is as singular as the place itself. It begins with Zita Cobb, an 8th-generation Fogo Islander and the visionary entrepreneur who dreamed up the project and now describes herself humbly as its innkeeper.

She was raised on Fogo Island, with no electricity or running water, by parents who could neither read nor write.

The island is both geographically and historically isolated. For two centuries, the cod sustained the island’s population. Dried and salted cod were delivered at the end of the season and fishers were paid in goods. Then came that terrible day in 1992 when the Canadian government, faced with the reality of a dwindling stock, imposed a cod moratorium. The cod had been overfished for decades by factory super-trawlers and now reality had struck. Fogo Island and hundreds of outports just like it, simply collapsed.

Zita Cobb was saddened to see her heartbroken father, an inshore fisherman, burn his boat when he realised he could no longer sustain his family. When Cobb left Fogo for high school in 1976, she had never even been to the village of Deep Bay, five kilometres down the road from her home.

She ended up light-years away as CFO for fibre-optics company JDS Uniphase. By the time she retired in her early 40s, she was a millionaire many times over. She had made more money than she could ever need for a lifetime.

Cosy corner in the Hotel Fogo Island lobby

After sailing around the world for five years, Cobb decided that what she wanted to do was to return to the island of her birth.

Her island was in dire straits. The inn was conceived as a way to save one of Canada’s oldest rural cultures, which once stood on the brink of extinction. Available jobs on the island had plummeted with the crash of the cod industry, and the population had dwindled to half its size in just a few decades (from a high point of 5,200 residents in the late 1960s, to roughly 2,300 today).

Cobb’s daring idea was to build a lodge, as Fogo Island’s new cod net, that belonged to the local community. It would be a business that funnelled 100% of operating surpluses back into Fogo Island. The inn would exist symbiotically with the local community, employing its people, celebrating the island’s long-standing culture of fishermen, boat builders and local artists, and offering guests an honest, authentic experience with an outport culture that remained little changed over the centuries.

Cobb has sunk more than $40 million of her own money into building the inn that was designed to revitalise the island’s economy. She does not even own the hotel: It is the property of a community-owned foundation, Shorefast, that Cobb established.

The result has been a renaissance of craftsmanship and traditional handiwork. The once-threatened community now thrives, by embracing the customs that define it.

The Shorefast Foundation is imbued with an authentic sense of place and purpose

Cobb set up the foundation with her brothers, Anthony and Alan. The Shorefast Foundation chose its name for its symbolic association with its fishing traditions: it is named after the line-and-mooring system that physically fixes cod traps to the shore.

A registered Canadian charity, the non-profit Shorefast Foundation lies at the very soul of this unique and very inspirational retreat. Cobb says, “Many luxury properties have a charitable foundation. Our charitable foundation has a luxury inn.”

Shorefast is dedicated to helping secure a resilient economic future for Fogo Island and its inhabitants. The foundation was established to be the motor for this traditional fishing community, thus creating a future for Fogo Island whilst retaining ties to the past and a strong appreciation for the locality.

Fogo Island Inn is the culmination of a major community revitalisation project. The hotel is just one element in a broader social enterprise that sought to sustain the community and its heritage following the demise of its once-thriving cod fishing industry.

The Fogo Island Inn, the Woodshop on Fogo Island, and Fogo Island Fish all provide direct employment, supporting new suppliers as well as reviving and sustaining traditional industries and vocations. All operating surpluses are reinvested straight into the community and projects through the foundation.

Projects include Fogo Island Arts, micro-lending programmes to support local entrepreneurs in developing new small businesses, various academic residency programmes, heritage building preservation initiatives and the New Ocean Ethic.

Shorefast’s work is not done. It continues to nurture and support current projects as well as develop new ideas and initiatives to serve Fogo Island, Change Islands, and similar small places around the world.

Fogo Island Inn a sunny winter day

Pristine remoteness and spectacular isolation

In splendid isolation, the Fogo Island Inn is nestled within a tight-knit fishing community on remote Fogo Island off the northeast coast of Canada’s Newfoundland province.

The closest international airport to the inn is Gander, Newfoundland. The best routes into Gander are through the international airports located in Halifax and St. John’s.

From Gander, it is about a 75-minute drive to the Farewell ferry stop. A passenger and vehicle ferry serves Fogo Island several times a day. The crossing takes about 45 minutes to an hour, sometimes stopping briefly at neighbouring Change Islands. During this time, visitors will be able to take in the stunning Hamilton Sound.

Fogo Island has an airstrip (Fogo Aerodrome). Visitors may fly directly to the airstrip via charter aircraft. They may also fly commercially to Gander, St. John’s or Deer Lake, then fly charter to Fogo Island, or they may fly private charter all the way. There are also charter helicopter services available from Gander and from St. John’s to the Fogo Island airstrip.

An architectural and artistic marvel in a remote yet spectacularly beautiful location

Blessed by the natural extravaganza and scenic landscape, the Fogo Island Inn offers an edge-of-the-world quality that few other hotels can match.

Here, guests may immerse themselves in a world of peace and relaxation. It is a world of nature, enjoyment and inspiration, a place that invites a renewal of strength and vitality.

This article was published on and some information may have changed.