Fogo Island Inn didn’t roll out the welcome mat

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Fogo Island Inn

It was just coincidence that I found myself in Fogo holidaying with cousins from England just days after after reading John Crosbie’s interesting columns on the island and its increasingly famous inn.

The inn is easily noticed from many points in and around Joe Batt’s Arm and we took a number of pleasing pictures, but upon wanting to get closer, we were greeted by a guard in a small cabin at the start of a 500 or so metre road from highway to inn.

The guard was pleasant enough, but made it quite clear that without some sort of reservation, even for lunch, we weren’t going down the road. Evidently, the gentry don’t want retired Memorial University professors wandering through the lobby of the hotel.

To be fair, not all us felt the same, but I personally felt miffed and insulted. I have wandered around the grounds and interior of hotels far more posh than the inn on Fogo, most recently the incredible Hotel del Coronado off the coast of San Diego (a favourite of Ronald Reagan’s, for instance), and have never ever been made to feel unwelcome.

If the foolish rich wish to waste their money in a very isolated hotel in full confidence that they won’t have to rub shoulders with the common folk, let them do so. I have lost all interest in the place.


Edgar G. Goodaire

St. John’s

Organizations: Fogo Island Inn

Geographic location: England, San Diego

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Recent comments

  • gerard
    April 23, 2014 - 09:34

    look for The Ego Island Inn on Vimeo

  • Len Clarke
    November 22, 2013 - 21:59

    I have wandered through the Hotel del Coronado off the coast of San Diego but I am not quite sure I could handle strolling through the Fogo Island Inn knowing that AT LEAST $10 million taxpayer dollars have gone into it so far. I doubt the Auditor General of Canada could find out the total government "participation". If it were private? Well I was told I was told I could not wander through the Mar-a-Lago Club. I wasn't looking for the Donald either!!!!

  • C.F. Gauss
    October 03, 2013 - 09:20

    Edgar, When you return from sabbatical a few hundred friends and I would like to sit in on your Math 2051 class. No, we don't want to pay to attended the class that would just be a foolish waste of money. I'm sure your students who have paid won't mind rubbing shoulders with a few hundred cynical observers. If you don't let us attend we might lose interest in math. Gauss

  • Sean
    October 02, 2013 - 15:35

    I'm from Fogo Island but live in Marystown. This summer when I was home I wanted to tour the inn. One Sunday morning out of the blue I sprang the idea on my wife and we jumped in our truck and drove up there. We didn't have a reservation and didn't realize we needed one. There were other people parking their vehicles when we arrived. Rex, the chauffeur arrived on the scene and loaded us into his SUV, a friendlier man you'd never meet. As it turned out we needed a reservation for a tour but the receptionist fit us in on the next one that was being conducted in an hour. While we waited we drank free coffee and the staff went out of their way to make us welcome. We did the tour, loved the place, the tour guide was a real sweetheart. Everyone I encountered that day were good as gold. I cannot see how anyone would refer to Rex as a guard. Lol. C'mon, some people need to brighten up and see the positives.

  • Killickgirl
    October 02, 2013 - 07:57

    Hans Christian Anderson knew human nature so very well. Paraphrasing the children’s tale of The Emperor’s New Clothes, here is the classic example of the proud folk of Fogo, and of all Newfoundland in general, being hoodwinked by this monstrosity, The Fogo Island Inn. After millions of taxpayers dollars have been put into this project and with heavy media coverage extolling its beauty and virtues, people are loathe to criticize, for fear of appearing unpatriotic or disloyal or blind or stupid. Where is the little boy who doesn’t know about all the hype and refuses to keep up the pretense and cries out that the place is just plain ugly? Hello, Edgar! And, Yes! The Emperor is not wearing any clothes, and it’s time we all started laughing at the ugliness!

  • dan
    October 01, 2013 - 22:45

    I bet Edgar G. Goodaire is one of those people you see sitting in economy on an airline but goes to the executive class washroom just to stog the toilet .......

  • Scott Young
    October 01, 2013 - 21:02

    I am very happy to see that many people have weighed in, in defence of the Fogo Island Inn. I've stayed there and anyone who has stayed there would realize that these comments from a "passerby" are ludicrous! For a University Professor to not understand why, in this situation, a boutique hotel would not allow tourists to walk inside with no reservation for a room or dinner, disturbing the tranquility of the guests, is difficult to understand. I would hope the Telegram will post some letters that will defend the position of the Fogo Island Inn. It is actually an awesome place to stay!

  • Heather
    October 01, 2013 - 19:56

    It would be no different then if you were to pay good money to go to a resort down south. This is why you pay the money, to have priority over other people. If you were in a high class resort, and any body at all could come and go as they please, how would you feel? You would feel "why am I paying all this money and I feel no different then anybody else?" That's why we have rules and regulations in society, to keep order. I am from Fogo Island myself, born and raised, and I haven't even had a look at the inn....I didn't make a reservation so I don't expect to just walk up to the front door and stroll in. I am no different then any one else.

  • Sue
    October 01, 2013 - 14:30

    Mr. Goodaire, Can you imagine what it would be like if any person at all would be able to just roam the Fogo Island Inn as they see fit? Yes, maybe in a couple years when the novelty of the hotel dies down they will be less strict on the reservation policy. This hotel has had extreme advertisement all over the world. If they let just anyone in to nose around then the people that spend the money to take in it's full value would be the ones that are "miffed". Sir, how would you feel to be a paying patron of that hotel, only to be bombarded by sightseers like yourself? Make a reservation next time when you wish to tour the beautiful hotel and it's surroundings. I think they are doing an excellent thing for Fogo island and it's residents. No, I do not live there. No, I do not have any affiliation with the people that own or work at the hotel, but I'm upset at the fact that you took it upon yourself to deem yourself as a person of entitlement. Why the hotel would prefer yourself to wander the lobby of the hotel over a retired fisherman or any other profession? Was it that necessary to write the telegram to give your small opinion of the matter? Why not make the reservation, take in the overall experience the place has to offer, then make an opinion. You, sir, may be a "retired MUN professor", but you left your intelligence on campus when you left your career. You may refer to their customers as "the foolish rich...waste their money", but you too desired to take in a piece of the hotel. You just weren't willing to pay the price. Keep your eyes open though, sir, for there are many commercials, ads, websites, magazines, etc. that will allow you to view what the "foolish rich" are viewing first hand. I can not wait until the day comes when I can take my family down to visit the Inn that is preserving the rich history of Newfoundland and re-introducing our old way of living to those who never had the chance to experience it before. Until then, the pictures will have to do.

  • lisa
    October 01, 2013 - 13:51

    you would think they would roll out the red carpet for a MUN professor.

  • Ed Fry
    October 01, 2013 - 11:51

    Imagine that. An overpaid, underworked MUN Prof (originally from Toronto) being miffed that he was not getting treated as he felt he was entitled to be treated. Perhaps he shold return to Toronto, where he is free to wander the halls of many posh hotels.

  • Scott Strong
    October 01, 2013 - 11:30

    I am guessing that Mr. Goodaire was driving. I also know that parking at the Inn is limited. And I would suggest that when he "...wandered around the grounds and interior of hotels far more posh than the inn on Fogo..." he was not provided with a parking space.

  • Bob
    October 01, 2013 - 11:13

    We'll Mr. Goodaire, you're a MUN professor so everyone had to bed over backwards for YOU!? What a joke. It must have been hard on your ego to get shut down and teal rated like a normal person. Your days of intimidating students at a university are over my friend. Welcome to the real world.

  • david
    October 01, 2013 - 10:44

    A very similar policy and attitude towards locals was adopted by the Humber Valley Resort.....and when that equally foolhardy venture turned to the local market to help extricate itself from economic ruin, they got their just desserts. If the Fogo Inn thinks that the "Oprah" crowd need to be protected and isolated from the "great unwashed", my response: 1) that is a tacit admission that the proponents of this Inn are nothing short of elitists with dismissive, negative opinions of Newfoundlanders, and 2) they certainly should not have accepted any financial contribution from such an unwlecome, undesireable element. The only thing worse than a blatant hypocrite 'entrepreneur' is one that thrives on the very social welfare it so resents.

    • Go-ForwardBasis
      October 01, 2013 - 13:24

      How stunned can you be? Where are you getting this idea that the inn operators are somehow unwelcoming the "great unwashed" (as you put it) in favour of shacking up with the "rich"?? ANSWER: you're only going on what this guy had to report of his personal story, and you can't be even remotely aware of what it is really like at the inn. I mean COME ON, this image of the rich shacked up in their hotel and the poor peasants grovelling below is just RIDICULOUS. Opinions like yours do more harm than good. Just another negative bandwagoner.

  • Kate W
    October 01, 2013 - 10:30

    I had completely the opposite experience when I visited Fogo in August. My family (including 2 small children) were curious about the inn and I'd heard there were public tours. Unfortunately the tours were all booked, but we stopped by to see if we could still go in to see the building. The "guard" (or greeter) was very welcoming, and we were asked to park our car in the parking lot provided away from the structure. Car traffic would certainly interfere with the beauty of the building in the landscape. We were even offered a shuttle ride up the road but we walked as it was a gorgeous day. At the inn, we visited the public art gallery - where there was a lovely contemporary installation about the island - and my son perused the books in the very well stocked library. We then spent an hour exploring the site around the inn. The experience was one of the highlights of our trip to Fogo. I truly had the sense that this inn is a community resource - not an exclusive resort for the rich.

  • C Shannon
    October 01, 2013 - 09:16

    Considering that the taxpayers paid for the majority of the costs for construction, $14 million of the $25 million total) maybe The Inn should reconsider guarding it from The Taxpayers. Here is the quote on the costs from John Crosbie's article about the Fogo Inn: "There has also been assistance from the provincial government — approximately $9 million — and from the federal government through the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency — approximately $7 million."

    • Go-ForwardBasis
      October 01, 2013 - 10:10

      I disagree with that argument, although I understand the principle. While the inn may be partially funded by tax dollars -- yours and mine -- it nevertheless must be operated like the BUSINESS that it is in order to be a successful venture. It would not be smart to grant the owners funding, only to have an added agenda/influence and partial management granted to government. If it is going to be an INN, then let it be an INN (and not a sightseeing attraction). I am sure the decision was made to fund the inn based on it functioning as such, and (as far as I can gather) under competent management to boot. They've attracted positive media from around the world.

  • Foghorn Leghorn
    October 01, 2013 - 09:10

    I would almost agree with the private property analogy other than the fact that as taxpayers we have 5 million dollars invested into this high risk adventure.

  • Go-ForwardBasis
    October 01, 2013 - 08:53

    I think your opinion on this matter is foolish, Professor. If you're so interested in staying at the inn, pony up and book a room for the night. This hotel is unique from the others you reference in one very important way. It is NOT located in a populated, public area. If there was no security in place, the paying guests would have gawkers putting to shore in their personal crafts all around the island and wandering up for a gander. Personally, if I decided to pay in full for a night at this inn, while I wouldn't mind the gawkers, I would certainly rather NOT have them there. The inn owners recognize this. They are offering their (PAYING) customers a specific experience and those customers have a right to receive that product. The inn owners have full jurisdiction and every right to maintain guests' privacy and prevent unpaid visitors from wandering around on their property. I am sure if your position was inside the gate, you would feel the same way. Regards.

    • Edgar Goodaire
      October 01, 2013 - 12:12

      That was the alternative argument put up within our group, and I certainly understand the point.

  • Fred Penner
    October 01, 2013 - 06:37

    It is private property, not a public viewing gallery. If you want "inn" then buy a ticket.

    • Don II
      October 01, 2013 - 18:11

      It sounds like the tax paying public has already bought about $16 million tickets to enter that place! Personally, I want my money back.

  • Eli
    October 01, 2013 - 05:56

    A rather narrow minded view in my opinion. Pip-pip tally ho!

    • Susan
      October 01, 2013 - 09:28

      Sounds like a pompous retired Memorial University professor!!