Friday, 25 July 2014

Fogo Part 4: The Fogo Island Inn

2013_NL_F14_0558BThis post, the last in my series about Fogo Island, is about the Fogo Island Inn. The idea of the inn is to attract wealthy tourists to a poor area of the province by providing a 5 star accommodation. Oddly, this 5-star hotel is run by a charity, the Shorefast Foundation. It is hard to miss the inn as you wander around Joe Batt's Arm, the community where the inn is located.

As you drive into Joe Batt's Arm, you might miss the turn-off to the inn due to its very unassuming nature.

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I like the idea of an old-fashioned gravel road leading to the inn. I also like the Todd Saunders design, which is clean and simple.

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There is no landscaping. Other than the gravel road, everything is just as if the inn was lowered into place by a helicopter.

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I think his idea was to combine Scandinavian simplicity with aspects of traditional Newfoundland design, such as stages and flakes.

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Certainly there is nothing fancy on the outside. The walls are very plain and are broken only by windows and doors.

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To go along with the inn are artist studios designed along the same theme. These studios, built to help support a resident artist program, are scattered around Fogo Island in out-of-the-way spots. To get to the Long Studio, you start out on a beach trail.

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In this case, there were stairs to help you over some of the rough spots.

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There were plenty of wild flowers to see along the way.

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In some of the bogs, you can see the provincial plant, the pitcher plant.

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The studio is off-grid, so there are no power lines or poles to distract from the beauty of the scene.

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Certainly the uniqueness of these structures makes for interesting photographs.

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Sunset is especially appealing.

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In a slight digression from my fixation on the inn, I saw what looked like a little island just under the sun. So I put on a long lens and took a few more shots. It looked like the wind was whipping up the water pretty good.

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The inn offers guided tours so you can go see what $800+ per night rooms look like, and get the story of the inn. I found these rooms to be charming. They were a nice balance between old-school outport design (like the wood paneling and the hand-made local quilts)...

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... and euro-fashion, like the floor-to-ceiling windows and the bathroom fixtures.

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The rest of the inn supports the 5-star luxury resort theme, with a lot of empty space.

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There are cozy nooks for having a chat.

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There is a strong connection with the locality, with an old-fashioned chalkboard in the lobby highlighting activities and a reading room with local interest books.

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The inn even boasts a movie theater and a fitness center, both of which are a good thing for anyone staying for a long time, especially in the winter when the weather is miserable.

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As you may have noticed in these photos, throughout the inn the focus is on being able to see the ocean. I have to say, there is something Zen-like in being able to stare into an empty offing.

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There is an excellent bar and restaurant with locally inspired drinks and dishes. The food, not surprisingly, is delicious.

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Where I think the strategy is weak is in failing to take into account how the structure dominates the landscape. The first thing that jumps out at you as you come over the hill on the road from Tilting is the inn.

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The inn pretty much dominates the visual space.

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The inn even dominated the view from the window of the B&B.

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It reminds me a bit of the Hunger Games, where one area is well-to-do, but distinct and separate from the poorer, subservient areas.

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But then, beauty is always in the eye of the beholder. Perhaps I should be thinking of this as our equivalent of the European medieval castle, perched on a hill, with attendant houses clustered around it.

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The idea to put a 5-star inn out on a remote, desolate piece of Newfoundland is audacious, one that Forbes and the Telegraph have taken a shine to. While publicity like that is golden, the hospitality business is a challenging one even in a busy market (which Fogo is not). I have no idea if the inn will be a going concern, but I do wish them well.


As with all of my blog posts, if you want to see any photo in more detail, just click on it and you will be magically transported to my Flickr site and the image will automatically load for you.


Here are the links to all the posts in the Fogo Island series:

Fogo Part 1: Getting There
Fogo Part 2: Walking Around
Fogo Part 3: The Fishery
Fogo Part 4: The Fogo Island Inn


Here is a list of links to all of the blog posts from my 2013 tour around Newfoundland:

Cuckolds Cove to Carbonear
Signal Hill
Boat Tour!
Bird Watching!
Whale Watching!
Fogo Part 1: Getting There
Fogo Part 2: Walking Around
Fogo Part 3: The Fishery
Fogo Part 4: The Fogo Island Inn
Twillingate Part 1: Getting There
Twillingate Part 2: Wine, Music, and Whine
Twillingate Part 3: An Iceberg and a Lighthouse
Twillingate Part 4: Down to the Sea in Boats
Trout River and Gros Morne National Park
St. Anthony: Grenfell House and Big Boats
St. Anthony: A Whale of a Tale!
St. Anthony: Ice, Ice, Baby!
Red Bay: A World Heritage Site
Mary's Harbour



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I recently selected my best photographs of Newfoundland and Labrador and hand-made them as fine art prints, which I sell from my website here.




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Fogo Part 3: The Fishery

2013_NL_F14_0436This post, the third in my series on Fogo Island, looks at the goings-on related to fishing.

The history of Newfoundland is tied to fish, specifically codfish. So such so that in Newfoundland, if you say "fish" you mean cod. If you mean to refer to some other species of fish, you have to name it. So you would say "I'm going fishing for salmon", but if you were going for cod, you would just say "I'm going fishing."

Fish were extremely plentiful back in the day, and small fishing communities popped up everywhere. All that was needed was somewhere to shelter the boats.

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Houses were built as close to the water as possible.

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It didn't matter if there was only rock to build on.

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People still build on rock, but they sometimes truck in a bit of soil to grow some grass.

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You can imagine that if people's houses are this close to the water, then the working buildings must be even closer. And you would be right - the stages and sheds associated with the fishery were usually built right on the water.

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While building so close to the water means a very short commute to work, it also means that everything is subject to the pounding of the North Atlantic. I can imagine the sort of waves I would see if I were to stand here during the winter. I am surprised that the buildings actually last any length of time!

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With the collapse of the cod fishery, the economy of much of rural Newfoundland was devastated and there are many signs of the collapse today. All along the shores of Newfoundland, there are small boats settling in to their final resting places, the wood well into the process of returning to the soil.

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In many places, grass is growing unchecked and is attempting to consume man-made artifacts.

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Many fields are untended, and the grasses are growing up to the height of the fence.

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Many of the fences are in poor repair and are collapsing.

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Grave sites are sinking into the ground.

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Many buildings are long abandoned. Oddly, I could easily imagine hearing the laughter of children playing....

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Even in the face of adversity, Newfoundlanders do not lose their sense of humour.

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Like many Newfoundland communities, Fogo has a museum about the fishery. I'm quite bored with these museums, as I find they are all the same. They all seem to have the same exhibits about cod jiggers, nets, stages, and flakes. This one in Fogo, however, had something I had not seen before: pookes.

According to this exhibit, pooks were used to cover cod drying on the flakes when bad weather came in. It was easier to cover them up, then uncover them when the weather was fine again, than it was to pick them all up and then lay them out again.

Growing up, I used the term "pook" to describe something puffed out, such as a shirt. As in "Bonnie, your shirt's all pooked out there on the back." I never knew the origin of the term, but now I could see how the noun transformed into something else, making the visit to this particular museum worthwhile!

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After 20 years of a fishing moratorium, the cod seems to slowly be coming back, and I saw signs of a renewed interest in the fishery, if only the "food" fishery.

There were well-kept boats on shore.

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There were boats in the water.

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There were boats tied up to the wharf.

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There were boats in the water going places.

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There were several punts out on the water as well, as part of the Great Fogo Island Punt race.

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The best indication that fishing traditions are reviving is seeing fishermen cleaning their catch down at the water.

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The cleaning station the boys were using made for a great sunset image, which is what I will use to bring this post to a close.

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As with all of my blog posts, if you want to see any photo in more detail, just click on it and you will be magically transported to my Flickr site and the image will automatically load for you.



Here are the links to all the posts in the Fogo Island series:

Fogo Part 1: Getting There
Fogo Part 2: Walking Around
Fogo Part 3: The Fishery
Fogo Part 4: The Fogo Island Inn


Here is a list of links to all of the blog posts from my 2013 tour around Newfoundland:

Cuckolds Cove to Carbonear
Signal Hill
Boat Tour!
Bird Watching!
Whale Watching!
Twillingate Part 1: Getting There
Twillingate Part 2: Wine, Music, and Whine
Twillingate Part 3: An Iceberg and a Lighthouse


-----
I recently selected my best photographs of Newfoundland and Labrador and hand-made them as fine art prints, which I sell from my website here.




Read more...