FlyerTalk Forums - View Single Post - Trip Report: Fogo Island Inn, Newfoundland, Canada
Old Sep 11, 14, 8:39 pm
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Trip Report: Fogo Island Inn, Newfoundland, Canada

Introduction When we first decided to book at Fogo Island Inn, we did so based purely on a single citing of its architecture and a recommendation in the Air Canada in flight magazine (I fly a lot...). At the time, their rates were a little convoluted, with several seasons being offered depending on the time of the year and the floor and room type. Since then, the rates have evolved twice that I know of--first to a simpler low &amp; high season model, and most recently to a single price irrespective of time of year. And they have gone up substantially. Since value is subjective, I will stay out of that conversation until I wrap up. Reservations were easy to arrange via email, and the hotel was always super responsive--replies rarely took more than a few hours.&nbsp;<br><br>With everything set at the hotel, it is up to you how to get there: fly to St. John's and drive; fly to Gander and do a much shorter drive; or fly to Gander and then charter a plane to Fogo Island. We opted for the first, mostly because I thought it would be nice to see the rest of the province. In retrospect, I probably would have chosen to fly to Gander. It often comes at only a small price premium compared to flying to St. Johns and the drive wasn't so amazing that I would do it again. Scenery was nice, but not amazing. And if you are going in winter, fly for sure. No way would you want to spend 3-4 hours on winter highways. Similarly, I don't think I would ever opt for flying with a charter to Fogo. I think you would be too subject to weather limitations at Fogo and because it is charter it costs a considerable amount to bypass an hour of driving and a couple hours on the ferry and further drive to Fogo. Just my opinion, but if I was to return I would definitely go the fly to Gander route.<br><br>One other note here: there is nothing else "luxury" in all of Newfoundland. So it is tough to combine the Inn with other properties for a week or longer. We stayed at the Ryan Mansion in St. Johns, and that was about as good as it gets there. If you want to go elsewhere, such as Gros Morne, you are out of luxury luck.&nbsp; The Inn and The Community It is tough to discuss Fogo Island Inn without mentioning the social context in which it is set. The Inn was built by Zita Cobb--a very smart woman who grew up on Fogo in Joe Batt's Arm (a small fishing community). Very smart is an understatement really. Long story short: she left, made her fortune in tech, returned, and settled on the Inn and the Shorefast foundation as a way to revive the fortunes of the community. Originally founded 300-400 years ago as a fishing community (11 of them, actually), the population has shrunk to 2500 or so from 6000 when Zita was born, primarily because of the collapse of the commercial cod fishery. What is left is a fascinating glimpse of a community struggling to survive, and a lot of people living in almost a subsistence manner. The people are incredibly friendly however, and actually reminded us of Bhutan in terms of their happiness and friendliness being almost totally distinct from their economic security. (That is a gross simplification, but not totally inaccurate.) Anyways, Zita wants the community to survive, so the Inn was stocked with furniture and crafts made locally, employs mostly local people, and so on. If you go, make sure to hear Zita speak about her approach. It is fascinating, and worth watching her on youtube for her philosophy if nothing else. I mention all this because the Inn, in every respect, is as much or more a product of its setting and social fabric than almost any other place I have been. From architecture to room design and finishing to food it is all heavily influenced by local color and tradition. Room Rooms come in a variety of types, and the website does a good job of explaining the differences, so I won't go into that here. We originally booked on the top floor into a standard room (standard rooms higher up are actually a little bigger). However, after our first night we were moved to a suite due to the lack of cooling in the room we were in. The rooms are very tastefully furnished, with lots and lots of white on the walls. All rooms have massive windows on to the ocean. Standard rooms' bathrooms are a little small for my taste (single vanity only). But high end bath products (Occitaine) and bedding (Frette?) are used, and the rooms and beds are super comfortable. Just beware standard rooms aren't huge. And there is no air conditioning--just active air movement. For us, this was a big problem, and if you like to sleep really cold, then you will need a corner room with better airflow at a minimum. And probably avoid July/early August as times to visit. Having said that, the suite we received after the cooling problems in our original room couldn't be resolved was amazing and very spacious. Again, design was spectacular, very white, very light and open. There are no real nits to pick: no lights at night, noise proofing is outstanding (the best of any hotel I have stayed at anywhere), maintenance seems very good, and the rooms were impeccably cleaned by an utterly invisible maid service. So very high marks in every respect except AC, and perhaps price. Dining The food is outstanding. It came highly recommended, and it delivered. We opted for full board (it actually wasn't a choice when I originally booked). All three meals and snacks were amazing. Quality was consistently very high. Taste was great, presentation was great, and all dishes were made entirely with local or locally sourced ingredients. The cod dishes in particular were amazing. The wine list is small but adequate and has some great choices on it, and the sommelier was really knowledgeable. They were also willing to make me something off menu for breakfast--I didnt try at any other meal. Two observations: service was a little slow for the late seating when they were busiest. This is a small nit but -- one has high standards at these prices and service levels. The other is that full board is $400 per room per day and I am not sure that we ate that much if we added up the prices on the menu. I would guess that going a la carte is a better value, but I didnt see many prices. The Inn handles billing like Aman--you never see or sign a bill during your stay. Also, no beer or house wine is included with full board. Which I found a bit disappointing. Local musicians play during both evening dinner sittings. Service Was consistently excellent. Everybody is super helpful, and very friendly. Again, the only relevant comparison I can make is to a well run Aman or a great FS property. It was that good. The only possible complaint was the slightly slow service during busy dinner sittings. The service recovery on our room was impeccable and handled without any ask by us--essentially they gave us a huge upgrade just to make us happy with absolutely no fuss, so that was very much appreciated. Overall __________________<br>twitter: @MillionMileGuyEvery stay comes with a tour from a community host. This gives you some real insight into the unique social and economic conditions on the island, and is totally absolutely worth doing. We did a second tour (no charge as well) with a photographer host as Ms. Ridefar wanted to do a photography lesson of sorts. This was also amazing. The locals are exceptionally friendly and great story tellers. And with 300 years of Engiish and Irish fishing history, there are a lot of stories to tell. Like the man who built a house inside a house. No kidding. It happend 90 years ago but they talk about it like it was yesterday. It is a wonderful, charming, beautiful area. I am very glad we went.&nbsp;<br><br>I do think their rates are very high. Certainly, in Canada, only the King Pacific Lodge and the Clayquot tented properties are in the same price league. So although the value was good for us, at our original booking price, I would definitely struggle with saying the value would be good for the room we were in at current prices ($2850/night). If you like to hike, there is enough to keep you busy for 3-4 days. I think 5 nights, which we did, is about the maximum I would recommend. 3 would be the minimum. The locale and scenery is staggeringly beautiful.Truly amazing. And the Inn and the architecture match it. So, this is a great, great property. It does deserve to be mentioned in the same sentence as the best Amans and 4S properties. I would highly recommend staying there to any luxury lover--it is interesting, and lovely and eye opening in many many ways. It may be a bit of a trek to get to, unless you leave on the East coast of the USA, or Toronto or east in Canada, but it is worth it.<br><br>I feel like I have only really scratched the service of the Inn and all it has to offer, but I would absolutely recommend it. Sorry for going on, and I did not include pictures as the website is great (and accurate) in portraying food, the Inn and rooms, and the locale.

Last edited by ridefar; Sep 11, 14 at 8:47 pm
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