Introduction: A Journey To One Of The Four Corners Of The Earth

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Introduction: A Journey To One Of The Four Corners Of The Earth
Is It Worth Upgrading To WestJet Plus?
Review: Comfort Inn Gander
How To Get To Fogo Island
Review: Fogo Island Inn
Review: Dining & Activities At Fogo Island Inn
Review: Sheraton St. John’s Newfoundland


For a long time now, the one hotel in North America that has most fascinated me is the Fogo Island Inn. As the name suggests, it’s located on Fogo Island, which is an island off of Newfoundland. Back when people thought the earth was flat, Fogo Island was thought to be one of the four corners of the earth.

Fogo-Island-Inn-2

Before I say too much, I recommend watching this video about the Fogo Island Inn, narrated by Zita Cobb, the founder:

While we’re on the topic of Zita Cobb, she really seems to be an incredible woman. I didn’t know much about her before visiting, but the Fogo Island Inn has a cinema where they show some documentaries, including “Strange & Familiar,” which talks about the history of the island, Zita Cobb, etc. It’s an inspirational story.

She’s from Fogo Island, made tens of millions of dollars in fiber optics, and then decided to travel the world and enjoy life. But beyond that, she wanted to give back to her home, so she built the Fogo Island Inn. According to an article in 2010, she invested $10 million of her own money, then the Canadian government invested $5 million, and the Newfoundland government invested $5 million. All the money stays in the foundation.

Fogo-Island-Inn-1

In addition to the 29 room Fogo Island Inn, there are also four ultra modern houses around the island where artists can take up residency.

Fogo-Island

Booking the Fogo Island Inn

Ford actually planned this for me as a birthday surprise. He booked the Fogo Island Inn around my birthday a while back, but only told me about it a few weeks before our trip. Full disclosure — Ford is a travel advisor, and got a travel advisor rate at the hotel for our three night stay. The stay wasn’t comped, and getting that rate had nothing to do with me, so I feel comfortable reviewing it in spite of that (we paid roughly half of the published rates, for what it’s worth).

The Fogo Island Inn has fixed rates, depending on the season. For example, here’s the pricing through May 1, 2017 (which is now over, but was when we stayed):

Fogo-Island-Inn-1

And here’s the pricing for the summer season, starting May 1, 2017:

Fogo-Island-Inn-Rates

Obviously this hotel is expensive. Do keep in mind that the rates are in CAD, so when we stayed the rate was ~1,200USD per night. However, the hotel includes three meals a day and many activities. When you think of how much you might spend for three meals a day in other places, that adds quite a bit of value.

Fogo-Island-Inn

More importantly, this is a place that’s expensive but you actually feel like you’re getting a special experience. For example, I could never imagine spending $1,000+ per night for a hotel with hundreds of rooms. Meanwhile I’ve spent roughly that much for stays at Aman hotels (like for my mom’s last “round” birthday), and actually considered it to be a very good value.

When we were at the Fogo Island Inn, there only seemed to be at most three or four rooms occupied, at least towards the beginning of our stay. Nearly having the place to ourselves was surreal. Before our stay I had seen many TripAdvisor reviews basically saying “arrive as guests, leave as friends,” and that really does sum up how you feel at Fogo Island Inn.

There are potentially two ways to score a deal on a stay at the Fogo Island Inn:

  • Book through Virtuoso, which will come with a room upgrade subject to availability, a $100 hotel credit (that can be applied towards alcoholic drinks, since most other things are included), and early check-in and late check-out, subject to availability; the rate is the same as the publicly available one, and any Virtuoso advisor should be able to get you those benefits if booking through them (Ford can do so, and can be reached at fordb@travelsociety.com)
  • Book through the Citi Prestige Card to get a fourth night free

Getting to Fogo Island

It isn’t easy to get to Fogo Island. The nearest major airport to Fogo Island is Gander International Airport, which seems to be an airport otherwise primarily used for transatlantic diversions. 😉

From Gander it’s about a 60-75 minute drive to the Farewell ferry stop (which is where the ferry to Fogo Island departs from). From Farewell to Fogo Island is about an hour ferry ride, and sometimes it makes a stop at the Change Islands.

Here’s the ferry schedule:

Fogo-Island-Ferry

Then from the Fogo Island ferry stop it’s about a 30 minute drive to the Fogo Island Inn.

If you don’t want to make the drive and take the ferry, you can also take a helicopter from Gander to the Fogo Island Inn. However, the drive was beautiful, not to mention much cheaper. 😉

When we were visiting, there was only a once daily nonstop flight between Toronto and Gander, so we took that, which had the following schedule:

04/19 WestJet 222 Toronto to Gander departing 9:10PM arriving 1:30AM (+1 day)

Due to the timing of the flight, we had to first spend a night in Gander, and we decided on the Comfort Inn, which seems to be the nicest hotel in Gander.

Comfort-Inn-Gander-Newfoundland - 2

Then on the return we decided to spend a couple of days exploring St. John’s, which is the biggest city in Newfoundland. There’s a Sheraton there, which is where we stayed.

Sheraton-St-Johns-Newfoundland - 21

So we booked the following flight from Gander to St. John’s (though in retrospect we could have driven that, as it’s a 3-4 hour drive from Gander to St. John’s):

04/23 AC7786 Gander to St. John’s departing 4:05PM arriving 4:50PM

Then after a couple of nights I needed to get to New York, so booked the following itinerary:

04/25 Air Canada 669 St. John’s to Toronto departing 8:00PM arriving 10:00PM
04/26 Air Canada 702 Toronto to New York departing 8:15AM arriving 9:41AM

Gander-Airport

Bottom line

Fogo Island is one of the most special places I’ve ever visited. Going in I wasn’t sure what to expect, but Zita Cobb’s words in the above video really sum up the spirit of the place beautifully. I’m not someone who likes to celebrate birthdays in any way, but being able to spend it in Fogo Island with Ford made it one of my most memorable ones yet.

I won’t be writing about all aspects of the trip, but plan on sharing my opinions on WestJet’s Plus cabin, the Comfort Inn Gander, the Fogo Island Inn (including getting there), and the Sheraton St. John’s.

This is certainly a different trip report than usual, and I hope you guys enjoy it.

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Comments

  1. This was on my bucket list but waiting for a lot more leisure time to devote to getting there 😉

  2. For those with access, worth checking out BBC’s programme Amazing Hotels which features Fogo Island Inn very recently – http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b08nx7hd.

    We spent 10 days traveling around Newfoundland last summer but didn’t manage to get to Fogo Island due to time constraints. However, it’s a stunning island and the gorgeous coastline and little villages reminds me very much of Scotland.

  3. Can’t wait for that Comfort Inn review;). In all seriousness–what a pleasant Birthday gift!! Looks like an amazing little trip.

  4. I was able to get the St Johns Airport Holiday Inn and Suites on IHG Points Break for this quarter. Looking forward to my Newfoundland road trip in July! (And St Pierre and Miquelon, France).

  5. How can Lucky travel to a corner of the Earth… of it’s a spherical object

    Lucky confirmed flat Earther!

  6. That sounds amazing – can’t wait to hear more about it. The BBC are doing a series about luxury hotels across the world and the latest episode was about the Fogo Island Inn – I don’t know if it would give you any more information having been there but it was certainly good to watch and learn about from afar.

  7. What an amazing trip, Lucky. I can’t wait to read more. I’ve only been to Newfoundland once (St. John’s), and from what I recall it was unlike anywhere else in North America.

    But the real question many of your readers have: will we see a Comfort Inn review, and are you now Gold at Choice Hotels? 🙂

  8. Looks amazing.

    Funnily enough I saw the BBC programme that Euan referred to above last week (I’m in the UK). I’d never heard of it before, and now this comes along too.

    Must be fate, i’ll have to go there.

  9. @Alvin – Why would the AC flights make good reviews? It’s just a short hop in economy.

  10. Sounds like a fabulous trip. Really enjoying the coverage of some of the more unusual destinations.

  11. I saw the. BBC programme and I could not stop thinking how overpriced the place was.

    I could be pushed to pay.that much for a few other hotels (Ie Royal Mansour at Marrakesh or some overwater villa in the Maldives) or some hotels in Seychelles.

    Also and I acknowledge it is down to personal taste but the landscape is very barren and the interiors are just not classy enough. It does look a lot like some isolated part os Scotland or Ireland/NI – none of which are that appealing to me.

    In another episode of the same BBC show, the showed the Mashpi lodge in Equator where I could totally see me paying the 1000 rate.

  12. @ Lucky – you really, really need to see the (just!) Tony Award nominated musical about Gander on 9/11 called COME FROM AWAY. It’s every aviation buff’s perfect show.

  13. Amazing!!!! Glad you had the chance to visit this place. Regarding the trip report, I would prefer to learn more about your experience in the island rather than a review of the Comfort Inn which I guess we all know what to expect from that.

  14. “Fogo Island was thought to be one of the four corners of the earth.” Where does this whopper come from? Is this something locals tell visitors? Sounds like one of those things locals tell tourists the world over that are patently false but make for a fun story to those who don’t bother thinking about it. The four corners is a biblical reference, written long before the authors knew the Americas even existed.

  15. Hi,
    Loved the article about FOGO Island. Would love to go – and you just provided some good incentive.

    On a different note, love your blog, but, please (just as a foot note) tell us Canadians which credit cards
    Canadians can actually apply for. A number of cards are only for Americans. (When the postal code , and state refuses to accept anything but US zip codes and states, you know what is up). Just saves a lot of time to start with.

    FYI Canadians love points as well as Americans.

    John U

  16. Please include the hotel organised activities in your review! Sounds a bit like the Al Maha setup! Can’t wait to read the rest of the trip report

  17. Please, I second the idea that you review Canadian credit cards too!

    I promise I’ll apply for all of them via the links through here. I plan on adding at least 4 cards a year for me, 4 for my wife, and 2 for my business.

  18. “Do keep in mind that the rates are in CAD”

    i hope this is standard for all your post in any country…. Why would anyone expect a Canadian Hotel to not be charged in Canadian dollars?

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