Fogo Island Inn: a dream worth dreaming

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I have been reading the propaganda and criticisms of Zeta Cobb’s Fogo Island Inn project. More than a few have expressed a pessimistic view on its prospects for success and perhaps a little cynicism as well. The cynicism arises from this particular use of government money and the rather exclusive clientele who can afford to stay there. I must admit those were my initial thoughts. But perhaps I was too quick to judgment, because I’m not so certain anymore.

In order to understand the Baroness of Fogo (no sarcasm intended, just my pet name for her), I think we are obliged to take her at her word and that all of this is a sincere effort to do something for her native island and the province. As she says, “to do nothing is a risk.” More than that, to do nothing is downright shameful.

As I understand it, she has (1) put a  substantial amount of her own money into the project without any expectations of a personal return on investment. (2) There are no shareholders expecting a dividend or financial reward. (3) Should the project be profitable, all the surplus goes to a trust fund to improve the prospects of Fogo Island. (4) The project has created  employment opportunities, however, I have no idea of how potential losses, should they occur, are to be sustained.

If this is all true, I believe we are all obliged to support this project in any way we can. This lady is a dreamer and I was always a sucker for dreamers, for utopias, for places that don’t exist.

Dreaming, which arises from the imagination, is a fundamental element of art in general and of who we are as human beings. It’s part of a process whereby horizons are constantly challenged, constantly tested. It is quite possible that in developing her “impossible dream” the Baroness has managed to amalgamate this kind of thinking in, of all things, the often cold and sometimes petty world of business.

It’s a fascinating prospect when you really think of it. But if she fails it will be an embarrassment of “cucumber” proportions. All the more reason to admire and support the effort.

I remain disappointed that there is no room at the inn for most of us. The Baroness should have found a way to make the place more inclusive, difficult though that may be given her business plan.

For myself, I would consider a cup of tea at Wallace Rowe’s kitchen table in Seldom of inestimable more value than any hotel. This lady may or may not be misguided from a practical perspective, but I do think she is sincere and I wish her all the best of good luck.

I come from Gasker Allan and Julia Annie of Seldom-Come-By, and I know a little of this place.

Robert Rowe

St. John’s

Organizations: Fogo Island Inn

Geographic location: Fogo Island

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Recent comments

  • Anita Armstrong
    October 01, 2013 - 12:33

    I agree that Newfoundland and Labrador needs a few risk takers. We have all kinds of resources here but we seemed to be afraid to take a risk. if we were to look at how many real Newfoundlanders and Labradorians are in the Hospitality Industry, we could cry shame. Owners and Operators come from other parts of the world and purchase property, it leaves one to wonder, what is really wrong with us. Do we know how to use our money wisely. Like the owner of Fogo Island Inn, I commend her for having the insight and appreciation of our province to take on such a venture. It will not be easy but I am sure it will be worthwhile. I am glad she is a Newfoundlander with the ability to see ways of helping others help themselves. That's what we need Leaders and Risk Takers to make our Province more beautiful.

  • Lorraine Mercer
    October 01, 2013 - 07:53

    I visited THE INN in early summer and was so proud to do so. I love this new concept in tourism. There is money to be spent on this out of the box experience......just as there is money to go to Galapagos or on a safari There are many classy places I can stay next time I visit the island....chances are I will not be able to afford THE INNS rates next time...but I will be able to visit THE INN and I am sure I will feel the welcome I was offered on my in house stay. ....

    • Edmund
      October 01, 2013 - 09:21

      After reading all the articles about Ms. Cobb, her Inn and those who have stayed there and those who have been denied admission (maybe she should consider having paid scheduled tours - 1 in the am and 1 in the pm which would create employment and solve the no access problem) it all reeks of aristocratic bullshit to me. Let the rich enjoy their sanctuary and the rest of us can make an effort to disrupt their stay on Fogo Island by other means. What goes around comes around!!