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.
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.