What looms large here, literally and figuratively, is the Fogo Island Inn. This is the uber-trendy and very expensive hotel built by Joe Batt’s Arm native Zita Cobb. A night’s stay at the Inn currently starts in the $3,000 to $4,000 range. Needless to say, guests come from around the world. At the time of our visit, all 29 rooms were occupied. Ms Cobb was a senior executive of a major US tech firm and became very wealthy through stock options, but while she was growing up in Joe Barr’s Arm, her family home did not have indoor plumbing or electricity. In early retirement, Ms Cobb returned home, created a foundation called Shorefast to build and run the Inn. That was 10 years ago. The purpose of the foundation is giveback to the local community and to sustain the original Fogo culture.
While waiting in line for a coffee when we first arrived in Fogo, we met Maureen, a chatty local from the Irish outport of Tilting. Maureen is the gatekeeper/security guard for Fogo Island Inn, though there was no hint of a taser or firearm on her. As we later learned, she’s also famous for having the best shed parties on the island. Maureen told us we could visit the Inn’s art gallery that afternoon as non-guests. So we did.
The exhibition was Shorefast’s initiative to rehabilitate a heritage church in the area. Our attentive and very knowledgeable host was Paddy (yes, another Tilting-ite), who began with the Inn as staff photographer. Everyone we met was a perfect ambassador for Shorefast’s mission.