Posts made in May, 2013

Fogo Island Inn now open

Posted on May 31, 2013 | Comments Off on Fogo Island Inn now open

The Canadian Press

On a gorgeous rocky shoreline where slabs of granite meet the moody North Atlantic, one of the most intriguing gambles in Canadian tourism will soon play out on Fogo Island off Newfoundland.

The new Fogo Island Inn looms over the brightly painted salt box homes and fishermen’s sheds in Barr’d Islands, one of 10 distinct communities that are home to about 2,400 people.

The Fogo Island Inn is the culmination of a major community revitalization project. The building’s rugged minimalist architecture balances traditional influences with a contemporary sensibility, which architect Todd Saunders has made and built just for Fogo.

A cultural destination in its own right where visitors and locals meet, the Inn includes an art gallery, heritage library, cinema and rooftop sauna. Each of the 29 guest rooms is unique, with every detail chosen with purpose and handcrafted by locals. A new artist’s studio on Fogo Island called Squish (meaning off-kilter). It’s one of four new studios built to host artists from Canada and around the world.

A three-year building project expected to cost more than $25 million.

The inn won’t be just any place for weary travellers to lay their heads. Its 29 rooms with panoramic ocean views, hand-crafted furniture and quilts, locally inspired cuisine, rooftop hot tubs, saunas, conference space, and a publicly accessible art gallery, library, and cinema are meant to please discerning tastes.

Multimillionaire Zita Cobb, a native Fogo Islander who is the driving force behind the new inn, says there’s a niche of well-to-do tourists who will pay for a unique, world-class travel and cultural experience, she said there’s no reason why Fogo Island’s natural beauty should not draw big money as successfully as other exotic, albeit warmer, destinations.

The ebbs and flows of a troubled fishery have threatened Fogo Island’s survival in the past, and its future is by no means secure.

Cobb is investing more than $10 million of her own money in the inn as the provincial and federal governments add $5 million each.

“There’s risk, no question,” she said in an interview. “I mean, to do nothing is a gamble.”

Marketing Fogo
One of Cobb’s biggest marketing challenges is the widespread notion that her beloved home is on a freezing rock in the Far North. In fact, it boasts what she describes as seven seasons including hot summers, snowy winters, the ice season around March and April when mammoth icebergs drift south from Greenland, fog, rain and sun in May and June, and spectacular berry picking in the fall.

It’s a place where caribou roam, seals frolic, and people go out of their way to share directions or a good story.

A slender woman who all but hums with energy, Cobb was the only girl among seven siblings raised on Fogo Island in Joe Batt’s Arm – an inlet community named for a popular early settler, as legend has it.

Cobb moved back to the island six years ago after making her fortune as a high-tech executive and ending a long run in the corporate fast lane. Now 54, she helped create the Shorefast Foundation, a federally registered charity that aims to use business as a tool to rejuvenate the local economy in ways that work for people, not against them, she said.

“Business is not unethical. It has just been practised that way too often and for too long.”

Cobb stressed that any profits from the inn, which has already created dozens of construction jobs and is expected to employ up to about 50 people when it opens next spring, belong to the people of Fogo Island and the nearby Change Islands.

But the inn will not be Fogo Island’s saving grace, Cobb said.

“Fogo Islanders are pretty darned good at saving themselves, which they’ve done for centuries,” she said. “I’m just another Fogo Islander trying to do my bit.”

Keeping it undisturbed
Wherever possible, renewable features were incorporated into construction of the inn such as a wood-burning heating system and rainwater cisterns for laundry and toilets.

If you go: Fly to Gander, rent a car and drive about 30 minutes to catch the ferry in Farewell, which takes about an hour to Fogo Island. It’s about a four-hour drive to Farewell from St. John’s.

“We’re trying absolutely to not disturb a single lichen we don’t have to destroy,” Cobb said of the land around the 44,000-square-foot building on four levels.

Three small white crosses still standing between the new inn and the sea are testament to her respect for what she calls “sacred” surroundings. They mark a decades-old pet cemetery that’s believed to be the final resting place for at least one horse, a dog and a cat, Cobb said. They will stay.

The asymmetrical X-shape of the structure is a metaphorical intersection of old and new partially supported on stilts, recalling the fishing stages where generations of Fogo Islanders cleaned, salted, and dried their cod.

Minimal outdoor lighting will create a “dark-sky” effect for star gazing. And guests will be escorted down a foot path from the nearest parking lot by two Newfoundland dogs named Make and Break, after the old-style engines, who will live at the inn.

Artists welcome
Four smaller buildings around the island are studios for artists, filmmakers, and writers invited from Canada and around the world to spend a few months.

Author Lyn Hughes arrived earlier this summer from Sydney, Australia to work on a new novel. As she settled into her dramatic new work space perched on a seaside rock, she expressed no doubt that Zita Cobb is on to something big.

“This is a very, very rare place on our planet, a very special place,” she said. “The only place I can even compare it to that I’ve been is the Azores Islands of Portugal.”

Nicole Decker-Torraville, owner of Nicole’s Cafe, said many Fogo Islanders have great hopes for the new inn, mixed with some fear and skepticism about whether it will succeed. She is part of a small wave of 20- and 30-somethings that have moved back and want their own children to have the chance to stay.

“They can travel, but they’ll know this is their home.”

Frank Lane of Tilting, an Irish settlement on the island’s east coast, is a traditional small boat builder who hopes the inn will create new jobs but help preserve old ways.

“It’s going to be a wonderful building. I don’t know if it’s going to be for me,” he said with a smile.

“You know, I might not have the money to stay there.”

 Fogo Island Inn

Behind the Scenes

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Flying from Mt. Everest – The Mission – World Record BASE Jump

Posted on May 31, 2013 | Comments Off on Flying from Mt. Everest – The Mission – World Record BASE Jump

Flying from Mt. Everest.  When Edmund Hilary and Tenzing Norgay summited 60 years ago, they didn’t have the equipment to fly off and why would you?

To celebrate the diamond jubilee of the first summit, Russian BASE jumper Valery Rozov threw himself off the north face in China 23,688 feet above sea level. It wasn’t the top, but it’s at least the highest BASE jump ever completed.

In the thinner air and colder temperatures of high altitude, Rozov had far less control of his wingsuit, and the flight was a little touch and go. After a minute of flying along the north face of the mountain, he landed safely in the snow on the Rongbuk Glacier at about 19,521 feet of altitude.

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Travel Gear – Walk this way to the Top of the World

Posted on May 30, 2013 | Comments Off on Travel Gear – Walk this way to the Top of the World

Bally Everest

Until May 29, 1953, conquering Everest had remained an unachievable dream for mankind.
It was eventually down to two members of a British team to achieve the impossible – New Zealand bee-keeper and mountaineer, Sir Edmund Hillary, and a Nepali Sherpa, Tenzing Norgay.
The pair reached the summit at 11:30 am local time on 29 May 1953. Both acknowledged it as a team effort by the whole expedition, but Tenzing revealed a few years later that Hillary had put his foot on the summit first.
When Sherpa Tenzing Norgay took his final steps to the top of the world, he made that journey in a pair of Bally Reindeer-Himalaya boots, forever linking the Swiss brand to this momentous achievement.

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Travel Tech: New Smartphone plans for Cruise Travellers

Posted on May 30, 2013 | Comments Off on Travel Tech: New Smartphone plans for Cruise Travellers

SMARTPHONES

AT &T has launched new Smartphone plans for Cruise Travellers to help you keep in touch with family and friends while you’re on a cruise with a wireless service that’s now offered on many cruise ships worldwide. The joint venture with Wireless Maritime Services provides voice and data roaming services on select cruise ships, so you can use your wireless device (with compatible frequency) while roaming internationally at reasonable rates.

This service is automatically available on most cruise ships, so you don’t need an International Roaming feature on your account to use your device while on board the ship. A Wireless Travel Guide tool to verify that the service is available on your cruise ship, check your device for compatibility, and get the International Roaming Pay-Per-Use voice/data/messaging rates is available


AT&T announced three different Cruise Ship Package plans with cruise travelers in mind:

  • AT&T Cruise Ship Calling: Includes 50 minutes for $30 per month
  • AT&T Cruise Ship Calling and Messaging: Offers 50 minutes of talk and 100 text/picture/video messages sent for $60 per month
  • AT&T Cruise Ship Calling, Messaging and Data: Includes 50 minutes, 100 messages sent and 100MB of data for $120 per month

A minimum one-month trial is required, which works well with the idea of “turn it on before you sail, turn it off after you’re done.” The new plan is currently limited to the ships of Royal Caribbean International, Azamara Club Cruises and select Celebrity Cruises ships. See att.com/cruiseships for list of ships and details.

On-ship networks operate only while in international waters. Docked at a pier, anyone with a smart phone can turn it on and access any available signal. Right about then would be a good time to have Boingo installed to pick among available signals and log in on one that works with your device at no additional charge.AT&T Cruise Ship package kicks in when users see “Cellular at Sea” displayed on your device.
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Glamping Travel Tech – FieldCandy Tents

Posted on May 27, 2013 | Comments Off on Glamping Travel Tech – FieldCandy Tents

Field Candy Tents

 

If you feel like a bit of Hipster Glamping check out FieldCandy.   An exciting new design-led brand of tents. They inject colour, creativity and fun into the camping space by offering a range of totally unexpected designs.

FieldCandy tents are fun, but they’re serious too. They keep you as dry in the rain and as snug in a gale as any conventional high performance tent. They use good old-fashioned cotton inner tent, you don’t get the condensation that comes as standard with most modern tents.

These classic  ‘A’ frame storm high performance tents are made in the UK. Based on the hardiest expedition tents on the market today, to stand up to extreme weather conditions.

If you want to blend in our stand out from the crowd there are plenty of designs to suit your mood. We picked this model for our next New Zealand holiday :-)

FieldCandy

 

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The ultimate travel umbrella

Posted on May 26, 2013 | Comments Off on The ultimate travel umbrella

Screen Shot 2013-05-26 at 9.17.01 AM

One of the essential things to pack on any trip is a travel umbrella.

It’s about size, weight, coverage, durability, a reliable auto-open mechanism and easy close.

The ultimate travel umbrella may have arrived with the new Blunt XS Metro umbrella, armed with a tough radial tensioning system that keeps the 33-inch-diameter canopy from collapsing or flipping inside-out when challenged.

Reinforced patching at the tips keeps them from poking through at pressure points, the nice big auto-on button is handily flush against the shaft, and the two-stage collapse system is smooth and friendly.  And, the XS Metro is cute to boot — with wavy curves along the edge, instead of sharp points.

It comes in seven colors, from gumdrop blue, yellow or pink, to bold red, and if you must black.

At a thickish 14 inches long when collapsed, and weighing 13 ounces, this isn’t the sveltest model around, but it wasn’t built for drizzles, and may more than earn its keep when the going gets wet.

Blunt XS Metro umbrella is $49 at www.bluntusa.com.

 

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