Com­mu­nity Based Lux­ury in New­found­land

The prov­ince of New­found­land and Labrador is one of the most pic­turesque prov­inces in Canada, and one with amaz­ing peo­ple, cul­ture and hos­pi­tal­ity.

LuxeGetaways - - Contents - story and pho­tog­ra­phy By Matt Long

When think­ing of great lux­ury get­aways around the world, the East­ern Cana­dian prov­ince of New­found­land and Labrador prob­a­bly does not im­me­di­ately come to mind, but that is quickly chang­ing. Within just a few short years, a re­mote and un­likely out-is­land has be­come a rock star in the worlds of both ar­chi­tec­ture and lux­ury travel. How­ever, as I learned over a re­lax­ing week­end, the Fogo Is­land Inn is much more than just an­other five-star ho­tel. It is chang­ing the way we look at hos­pi­tal­ity; and while it may be new to out­siders, it is a tra­di­tion with a long his­tory within this homey prov­ince.

Fogo Is­land Inn and Com­mu­nity-Based Lux­ury

Zita Cobb grew up on this small is­land of just 2,000 lo­cals, but un­like most res­i­dents, she left at a young age to pur­sue a com­pletely dif­fer­ent life­style. Zita quickly rose through the ranks of the cor­po­rate world, and be­came one of the most suc­cess­ful busi­ness lead­ers in the coun­try. But rather than sit­ting back on her lau­rels, she de­cided to open a new chap­ter in her life, and in the lives of an en­tire is­land. Es­tab­lish­ing the Shore­fast Foundation, Cobb be­lieves that so­cial en­gage­ment and artis­tic nour­ish­ment will in turn lead to eco­nomic stim­u­la­tion on Fogo Is­land. The most vis­i­ble as­pect of this ex­per­i­ment is the un­usual Fogo Is­land Inn.

Twenty-three very unique suites com­prise the Inn ex­pe­ri­ence, and each one is per­son­ally dec­o­rated with items made in the var­i­ous com­mu­ni­ties dot­ting the is­land. Noth­ing at the Inn is done with­out a fo­cus on the com­mu­nity, and all of the build­ing ma­te­ri­als were made on-is­land – from the nails, to the cozy blan­kets on the beds. The net ef­fect of that is not just a sense of own­er­ship by lo­cal res­i­dents, but by the Inn guests them­selves. While en­joy­ing an un­doubt­edly lux­ury ex­pe­ri­ence, guests also be­come a part of the com­mu­nity in one of the most unique hos­pi­tal­ity ex­per­i­ments ever con­ducted.

At the end of the day though, the Inn is still an Inn; and the guests make the trek not just for so­cial re­spon­si­bil­ity, but to be pam­pered; and pam­pered they are. Days start out with a tackle box full of muffins, tea or cof­fee and other snacks as a pre-break­fast treat to help guests slowly wake up. That level of thought­ful­ness is com­mon­place at the Fogo Is­land Inn, and ev­ery mo­ment of ev­ery day is silently tai­lored to meet the wishes of in­di­vid­ual guests.

While not en­joy­ing the mas­sive win­dows over­look­ing the ocean, or the in­cred­i­ble culi­nary event that is ev­ery meal, guests spend time get­ting to know Fogo Is­land. Tours with lo­cal res­i­dents, whale and ice­berg scout­ing boat trips, hikes and more unique ac­tiv­i­ties eas­ily fill the days if ac­tive travel is your goal. No mat­ter what you choose to do, and re­gard­less of it be­ing a lovely sum­mer night or a more ro­bust win­try morn­ing, al­most ev­ery visitor falls un­der the charms of the Inn, and the is­land that it calls home.

Get To Know St. John’s

Trav­el­ing around New­found­land and Labrador is a process – one that should be un­der­taken with time to spare, and a will­ing­ness to learn more about one of the most beau­ti­ful prov­inces in the coun­try. All ex­plo­rations be­gin in St. John’s, the old­est city in North Amer­ica, and the pro­vin­cial cap­i­tal. But do not just pass through; be sure to spend a few days ex­plor­ing not only the city, but the sur­round­ing re­gion to un­der­stand why New­found­land and Labrador is rou­tinely called one of the most pic­turesque prov­inces in Canada. To get the most out of the ex­pe­ri­ence, there are two tours to con­sider:

Far East Pho­tog­ra­phy Tours – St. John’s is an in­cred­i­bly beau­ti­ful town, but some of that beauty is not within the heart of down­town, which is why you need a lo­cal guide to show you the best spots for those In­sta­gram-wor­thy shots. Owner Moe Fitzger­ald tai­lors the ex­pe­ri­ence to in­di­vid­ual guests, but any great day ex­plor­ing St. John’s will in­clude color­ful Jelly­bean Row, the Quidi Vidi fish­ing vil­lage and Cape Spear, the east­ern­most point of North Amer­ica.

Cod Sounds Food Tours – Thanks to its rel­a­tive iso­la­tion over the cen­turies, the tra­di­tional food cul­ture of New­found­land has thank­fully been pre­served, and the best way to learn more about it is on an im­mer­sive food ex­pe­ri­ence with lo­cal ex­pert, Lori McCarthy. Of­fer­ing a va­ri­ety of tours and ex­pe­ri­ences, no mat­ter how you choose to spend the day (or af­ter­noon) with Lori, you are guar­an­teed to walk away with an ap­pre­ci­a­tion of lo­cal del­i­ca­cies, as well as a full belly.

Other Cen­tral Coast High­lights

New­found­land and Labrador is such a large prov­ince that weeks could be spent ex­plor­ing all of it. If you are trav­el­ing to Fogo Is­land, do not just speed through the prov­ince, but be sure to stop off and en­joy some of the amaz­ing ex­pe­ri­ences found all along the Cen­tral Coast.

Light­house Pic­nic – For a fun half-day out, be­gin at the Fer­ry­land Light­house, a 19th cen­tury light­house with amaz­ing views of the coast­line. Be­fore you go, be sure to or­der a spe­cial Light­house Pic­nic, meant to be en­joyed while re­lax­ing and ad­mir­ing the stun­ning scenery. You pick up and drop off the pic­nic at the light­house it­self, so it could not be eas­ier.

Prime Berth Boat Tour – Lo­cated just a few min­utes from Twilin­gate, this is one of the best over­all her­itage ex­pe­ri­ences in the re­gion. Be­fore board­ing the boat, guests are led through the Cap­tain’s fish­ing mu­seum and mini-fish­ing vil­lage he has lov­ingly re­lo­cated to the site so that guests can see what tra­di­tional fish­ing cul­ture in New­found­land is all about. The real fun though is the boat ex­pe­ri­ence it­self as long­time fish­er­man and owner Cap­tain Dave takes vis­i­tors out in search of ice­bergs, whales, puffins and more.

New­found­land has long at­tracted in­trepid trav­el­ers in search of a more rus­tic ex­pe­ri­ence amidst some of the most dy­namic land­scapes on the con­ti­nent. In re­cent years though, the prov­ince has also lured all types of vis­i­tors, from lux­ury seek­ers to ex­pe­ri­en­tial thrill seek­ers. Re­gard­less of your rea­son, you are al­ways guar­an­teed a warm wel­come, amaz­ing food, and an over­all travel ex­pe­ri­ence that you will never for­get.

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