When searching for the ideal spring break, people instinctively look south, toward palm trees and talcum powder beaches. However, two of the most romantic escapes in the Western Hemisphere are actually situated up north and offer a level of gastronomy, pampering, scenery and excitement that surpass anything you’ll find on Worth Avenue, with the added benefit of built-in social distancing. Fogo Island Inn, located off the northern tip of Newfoundland, operates as a nonprofit but offers unparalleled comfort and solitude in one of the most remote, breathtaking corners of the world.
[Editor’s note: As of press time, Atlantic Canada is still closed to foreign visitors due to COVID-19, but a representative of the tourism board hopes that it will open up by late spring.]
Fogo Island Inn in Newfoundland, Canada
Looking like the lovechild of a centipede and a Lego set, Fogo Island Inn is a marvel of modern architecture, cantilevered out over salt-sprayed rocks at the edge of the world. To get there, you’ll need either a private jet or to hopscotch by plane from St. John’s (the capital of Newfoundland) to Gander (the setting for the hit Broadway musical Come From Away), drive north for an hour, and catch a 45-minute ferry to the island. But its isolation is precisely the point. This tiny fleck of land floating in the North Atlantic is considered one of “the four corners of the world” by the flat-earthers, and it’s a place frozen in time. The inn itself is the brainchild of native Zita Cobb, who made a fortune in tech and decided to use it to preserve the island’s unique way of life after the cod fisheries collapsed in the 1990s. (Cod fishing borders on religion in these parts.) In response, Cobb created the Shorefast Foundation, a 501(c)(3) that operates the inn as well as four artist-in-residence studios scattered across the island, all designed by the brilliant Newfoundland-bred, Norway-based architect Todd Saunders.
The effect is that of an extraordinarily luxurious spaceship plopped down in the middle of nowhere. One might expect the locals to resent the intrusion, but 100 percent of the inn’s proceeds go back to the community. Despite its rigorous modernism, the inn pays clear homage to the vernacular architecture of fishing huts built on stilts over the water, and all the furniture, artwork, quilts and handicrafts at the inn are handmade nearby and reflect centuries-old traditions. Once comfortably ensconced in one of the inn’s 24 rooms, even the most finicky traveler will revel in the homey comforts of the common areas and salivate over the superb food of executive chef Jonathan Gushue, who creates magic from local staples like cod, crab, potatoes and berries. The wine list, meanwhile, will impress even the pickiest oenophile. The inn boasts an art gallery, cinema and rooftop sauna and hot tubs, as well as an outbuilding known as the Shed, which is used for activities like parties and cooking demonstrations.
The extremely friendly locals gladly escort guests on outings like foraging, stargazing, hiking and snowmobiling expeditions, and the island’s “seven seasons”—which include Pack Ice Season in the Spring and Berry Season in the Fall—offer a dizzying array of activities, from the relatively sedentary (art workshops) to the rigorous (ocean swimming). However, few places call out more emphatically for visitors to simply take it all in—whether it’s watching a humpback whale and her calf cavorting in the icy waters while an iceberg drifts lazily by or contemplating a herd of caribou picking its way across the mossy inland landscape. The island itself is a sub-arctic playground with near limitless ways to rest, relax and recharge, and Fogo Island Inn provides a gem of a place, with unsurpassed hospitality, in which to do it. And just think: If you hike up to Brimstone Head for a glimpse of the magnificent view, you’ll have bragging rights to say that you stood at the edge of the world.