Courtesy of Brandon Presser. Courtesy of Fogo Island Inn (dining room).
This is a story of iconography, a story of sustainability so profound that it's shifting Canada's center of gravity away from its cities by highlighting the country's most unexpected natural resource -- its people.
Fogo Island is at the end of the world: a rocky outcrop in the North Atlantic, loosely tethered to Newfoundland by a bumpy ferry. It's so far-flung that the Flat Earth Society believes it to be one of the four corners of the two-dimensional planet -- warning signs are duly posted alerting travelers to the doom that lies ahead.
But recently, Fogo has seen a surge in visitors, many ofwhom are bypassing the more obvious destinations in Maritime Canada. They're coming to stand in front of Fogo Island Inn (FogoIslandInn.ca), a structure so striking and unexpected -- a construction that will take its place in the architectural annals alongside the Sydney Opera House -- that it begs to be witnessed in real life.
While the iconic facade ignites both the imagination and interest in the destination, it's not the bones of the inn but its soul that has travelers talking about their experiences on Fogo in hushed tones.
The brainchild of the Shorefast Foundation, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to maintaining the vitality of the island's small communities through adaptive social enterprise, Fogo Island Inn harnesses the power of geotourism to accentuate the unique attributes of the destination and create buoyancy in a spiraling fishing economy.
The inn provides jobs to a legion of employees, all of whom come from tightly knit communities whose provenance is discernable by the twangs in their Newfie brogue. But more critically, the inn acts as an organic conduit between visitors and locals.
Your first morning on the property includes a pairing with a community member who guides you around the island without a script or an agenda -- just a sense of exploration and pride in their salty home. Boat rides, hikes, fishing excursions, and gourmet meals showcasing local seafood are also on offer, further cracking the secret code of authentic experiences, human connections, and the serendipity that all modern travelers crave.
There's something strange that happens when you prepare to depart: It might be the only time in your travels that you'll ever find yourself hugging the concierge and front-desk managers as you leave.
And when you drive away, peering through the rearview mirror at the strange white structure and its toothpick legs, you'll realize it's the new friendships forged that will leave the indelible mark in your memory.
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