In the 1990s, Fogo inhabitant Zita Cobb witnessed how her father and other local fisherman were finally forced to drag their wooden fishing boats onto dry land, when they could no longer compete with the enormous trawlers taking all the cod (as well as everything else) out of this part of the Atlantic Ocean. The days of the small-scale fishing industry were over. The island could no longer offer any kind of future and with heavy hearts many of the young people left, leaving the older generation behind. Zita, an idealist, had resolved to return someday and give back to her beloved island home. And after a successful career in Silicon Valley the time was ripe. She began by setting up a foundation to keep the local crafts and traditions of Fogo Island alive, inviting artists, crafts people and designers from other countries to visit this remote island. The economic driving force behind the project is the Fogo Island Inn, a hotel in the form of an architectural bastion. Cleverly designed, it is erected out of light wood and run on the principals of entrepreneurial philanthropy meaning all the income the hotel generates goes back to the Fogo Island community.
Zetaâ€™s choice of architect, Todd Saunders, who now lives in Norway but is originally from Newfoundland, demonstrates perfectly the strict but simple philosophy of the Fogo Island Inn: as far as possible use local crafts people and materials. If it canâ€™t be sourced in Newfoundland then preferably in Canada, and if that is not possible, it must be ethically manufactured whatever its place of origin â€“ no made in China or made in Bangladesh on Fogo Island! Often designed by international designers and artists, almost everything used, including the furniture in the hotel, references the island in some way: from the wooden rocking chairs made in a workshop by local carpenters in Joe Battâ€™s Arm, and the patchwork quilts made by the women of the local quilters guild, to the bronze keys.
All the suites at the Inn have a view â€“ through floor-to-ceiling windows â€“ over the Labrador Current. Though the design is minimalist with clean lines, the interiors are kept warm with Norwegian-style fireplaces and cosy patchwork bedspreads, perfect for during stormy and ice cold nights.