The winner of our inaugural Best Sustainable Hotel (Rest of World) award is Newfoundland’s Fogo Island Inn, a resilient island gem where nature, culture, and luxury converge

ByAndrea Thompson

March 26, 2024

If writing the opening of a novel the opening line would be: “Where whispers of the sea beckon, where waves kiss the sky, and secrets are carried by the wind, there stands the beacon of defiance—one foot grounded, the other ethereal”

Perched on the rugged northern shore of Fogo Island in Newfoundland you will find this 29 one-of-a-kind suites Inn.  Founded in 2013 by “Shorefast”, a Canadian charity, the head of which is Zita Cobb together with Alan and Anthony Cobb.  It was her vision to revitalize her home community.

The architecture of the Inn was designed by Todd Saunders, who was born in New Foundland but now based in Norway.  Saunders is renowned  for his contemptuous aesthetics mixing modern with tradition.  This white façade structure rises like an iceberg.  Using floor to ceiling windows in it frame, gives breath taking views over the Atlantic.  A collective of interior designers all having specialties were guided by Ilse Crawford, a British interior and furniture designer.  The Inn features stilt-like pillars designed to have a gentle footprint on the landscape, and they are also reminiscent of the ‘shores’ found on traditional wooden buildings of Newfoundland & Labrador that are still prominent throughout the province’s outports today.

The Inn is sustainable to its core.  From solar thermal panels collecting rainwater which is filtered and stored to heat the water and rooms.  The Inn’s waste treatment is self-sufficient. It’s 100% social business model and commitment to the community is very clear.  It is where any surplus is reinvested into the community including repairing, restoring and repurposing of all furniture and textiles to minimize waste.   This incentive shows exactly “where the money goes” and how the cost of one stay contributes to the local and global economy and  strict sourcing policies which ensures local suppliers are favoured for food and amenities.

The design and operating systems are of the highest levels for  energy efficiency and conservation, from the highly insulated steel frames  to the windows which are the equivalent of triple pane glazing. Rainwater is collected into two cisterns in the basement and filtered for use in toilets, laundry, and kitchen appliances. The outbuildings used as offices have wood-fire boilers, solar panels and used for under floor heating, laundry and kitchen equipment.

The dining room serves seafood and fish harvested from around Fogo Island including handline caught cod.  The kitchen has a “80/20” rule, 80% of ingredients used are, fished, farmed, hunted or harvested locally.  The other 20% of which includes spices and chocolates are sourced as close as possible.  They offer seven seasons in their culinary quest and executive Chef Tim Charles and his team pride themselves on representing Fogo Island’s cuisine.  The Inn has added a multi-purpose venue “The Shed” to the property for small groups in a very simple basic style.

Guests are offered the option of carbon neutrality through Carbonzero.  Including sustainable linen for the bed and restaurant.  Steel bottles are provided as no plastic will be found at the Inn.  All toiletries are produced locally and are environmentally friendly.

Amenities include rooftop hot tubs,  Scandinavian wood fires, fitness and yoga centre, cinema and a gathering hall with a Grand Piano.  There is also a tea room, art gallery featuring artwork from local artists, heritage library, bar and lounge.

The rooms and suites are each unique from offering 3 glass sides with views of the sunrise and sunsets to a Sunrise suite which is cantilevered over the Inn with a sitting area, bathtub and walk in shower. All have handmade quilts.

The best suite being the Flat Earth Suite, facing east, a two storey corner suite with floor to ceiling windows where you can watch the ever changing landscape.  Its not just a room but an experience!

Fogo Island Inn is not a place just to rest, it is a place to embrace the elements.