HOW DID FISHERS' LOFT INN COME ABOUT?
In 1989 we bought a small saltbox in Port Rexton as a summer home for our family. We were living in Ontario. We spent an idyllic first summer fishing in an open wooden boat with a local fisherman, whale watching and hiking coastal trails. Within a year we had moved our family to the Port Rexton summer home. In September of 1990 Luke, age 10, and Gabe, age 8, started at the local school. John ran a consulting firm with clients across Canada. It didn't matter where we lived provided an airport was within reach.
Fishers' Loft Inn began as a four room B&B in 1997 located in an extension of our home. Within two years we were unable to keep up with demand for rooms, turning away more people than we accommodated.
In 1999 we built two additional buildings with eight suites and rooms along with the dining room, kitchen, bar, living room and library, complemented by a kitchen garden and greenhouse. These continue as the centre of the inn.
Each time we added new rooms to meet growing demand we just as quickly fell behind and so we built more. Fishers' Loft inn is now made up of thirty three rooms and suites, an executive conference centre, dining room, bar, library/sitting room. That's pretty much it. It's sad and frustrating that we just don't have room for everyone that calls. However, we are concerned that we'll lose the all-important contact with our guests if we grow any bigger.
WHY A COLLECTION OF INDIVIDUAL BUILDINGS?
Large institutional buildings really don't belong in an Newfoundland outport. To reflect vernacular architecture of the area we engaged one of Newfoundland's leading artists and coincidentally house designer Frank Lapointe to help us. Frank has an encyclopedic knowledge of the history of Newfoundland folk house forms.
Three structures of the inn reflect second generation salt boxes constructed around Trinity Bay in the 1865-1920 period. One is a Mansard design.
The inn is a collection of traditional houses scattered randomly yet closely over a hillside where forest meets meadow with expansive views of Trinity Bay and the North Atlantic.
Coincidentally in addition to designing some of our houses Frank was born in our once summer house that is now part of the Inn.
WHAT IS DISTINCTIVE ABOUT FISHERS' LOFT INN AND THE SURROUNDING AREA?
The inn is situated on a hillside, part forest and part meadow crowned by a ridge some 300 ft above sea level. Toward the east we overlook Ship Cove, the vast expanse of Trinity Bay and approaches to the North Atlantic. In the west our guests experience golden sunsets over Trinity Harbour.
Blueberry bushes border the web of footpaths connecting our six buildings on the inn's 14 acre hillside property. Chairs are strategically located for quiet moments to contemplate the panorama of seascapes. With luck and in season you'll see whales, icebergs, rainbows and at night stars.
The inn's buildings reflect traditional architecture in this rural region Our rooms and suites have views of forest and ocean through the mullions and muntins of locally made traditional wooden windows.
Furniture in rooms, suites and public areas is handcrafted by a local prize winning artisan, Mike Paterson.
Our buildings and interiors reflect the tangible and aesthetic heritage of Newfoundland. This differs from a slavish replication of the past. The interior of the inn is full of light, minimalist and uncluttered. It is a warm and inviting environment.
While our buildings reflect the past they were constructed beginning 1997 with the most recent being 2011.
In 2010 Fishers' Loft Inn was recognized by the National Geographic Traveller Magazine as one of fifteen places to stay in Canada recognizing our commitment to protect, enhance and interpret the culture of this place. Geotourism promotes the pursuit of sustainable tourism to protect both the physical and intangible environment.
The inn has a modest library of books, journals, studies, periodicals intended to illuminate both history and current affairs of the province. Also there's a "Give and Take " book exchange, seeded with books published in or about the province. A magazine rack has the best of the world's periodicals covering international affairs, fashion, the arts, economics, travel and more.
The 5.3 km Skerwink Coastal loop Trail is rated by Travel and Leisure as one of the best in North America. The trail connects to the Inn. We provide maps to this and other coastal trails in the area. The inn is surrounded by many attractions (more than in any other region of rural Newfoundland) including whale watching, professional theatre, movie sets, boat tour of deserted communities, craft shops, art galleries, historic sites, small fishing communities, friendly people and panoramic seascapes at every turn in the road.
Many Newfoundlanders stay at the inn, a chance for our guests to mingle with the people who live here.
Port Rexton is one of ten communities that make up the Trinity Bight. Our closest neighbour is Trinity. Since 2000, movies and TV series with combined budgets of over $50 million have been shot in the Bight. It began with Random Passage a TV series starring Colm Meaney about the early days of the fishery. Then came The Shipping News starring Dame Judi Dench and Kevin Spacey (they stayed at the inn). The Grand Seduction in 2013 starring Brendon Gleason and Taylor Kitsch is the most recent film to be made in the area.
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR APPROACH TO TOURISM?
In hospitality parlance Fishers' Loft Inn is a "character accommodation," the opposite of an urban chain hotel.
We are an Inn, a first cousin to both a hotel and a B&B, but neither. We have many of the services of a hotel including a bar and nightly dining. To this we add the personal touch of a B&B.
Tourism works best when it's culturally, not economically driven. Economically driven tourism is an industry where "place" becomes "brand," "experience" becomes "product" and so on. Economically driven tourism can easily smother the uniqueness of place using high density development and "same look" buildings to optimize economic returns.
The structures of Fishers' Loft Inn and our interiors reflect the history of Newfoundland. However we are equally enthusiastic about the present. Newfoundland is undergoing an economic and cultural renaissance that interests our guests.
The present then is as important and compelling as our past.
We partner with artists and artisans across the province to introduce visitors to the creativity, artistry and optimism that abounds here. The works of painters, writers, carvers, knitters and other artisans are visible throughout the inn and in our shop. Artists' studios and galleries are scattered around the Bonavista Peninsula.
Guests at Fishers' Loft experience paintings and photographs in all our rooms, suites and public areas; creations from our visiting artist program (check out Christina Nicks sculptured moose and north America's only "racing labyrinth"), a fall reading series featuring the best of our writers, locally made award winning furniture, design and structures of the inn itself.
WILD FOWERS, BERRIES, AND A DARK SITE
Wild Flowers and Berries
In the Newfoundland summer there's a profusion of wild flowers including Blue Flag Iris, Lady's Slipper Orchid, Harebells, Lupins, Fireweed, and Pitcher Plants.
In late summer and autumn wild berries are everywhere including Partridge Berry (Lingonberry), Blue Berry, Bake Apple (Cloud Berry) , Cranberry, Wild Raspberry, and more.
Many of these species grow on the inn's acreage and in the surrounding woods.
The night sky at Fishers' Loft is a wonder to behold. It's as if the universe is a canopy hovering above the inn. To protect the sight of this delightful natural occurrence we have minimized outside artificial lighting wherever possible.
In every room we have flashlights (torches). Paths to and from our dining room are marked by moon-glow solar lights. However, as a precaution flash lights ensure you have perfect night vision.
DINING AT THE INN
Local people preparing and cooking locally sourced ingredients is the way we do things. A chef (our niece, Laura Duchow with a professional background working in leading Montreal restaurants including Bronte and now Bouillon Bilk) flies in twice during our seven month season to provide ongoing development and upgrading of culinary skills and recipes for all our kitchen staff. Our emphasis is on skill transfer. Empowerment of local people would be an elaborate way to put it. It's local all the way from food sources to the people who prepare and serve it. We're all about freshly prepared food, attractive plating, producing ingredients in our kitchen garden and sourcing food as much as possible from the area. We aim to keep the culinary experience grounded at the same time meeting diners expectations.
The dining room looks out over Trinity Bay and the kitchen garden. We describe the dining experience as "casually elegant."
We have a carefully selected not too lengthy yet useful wine list.
Where To Eat in Canada rates our dining room as one the best in rural Newfoundland.
Left to Right: Tracey Randell, Magan Hiscock, Sharon Hiscock, Florence Monks, Tracey Bailey, Patricia Walsh, Roxane Rex, Kathy Norman, Barbara Ayles, Ann Philpott, Karen Philpott, Colette Churchill-White
Our staff are descended from fishing families who first came from England's West Country settling this region of rural Newfoundland beginning in the mid 1700's.
Many are from large families and recall a time before paved roads, electricity and "distant shrinking" communications existed when community life revolved around the fishery.
Staff have contributed much to the development of the inn. Most have been with us for ten years and more. They are, in so many ways, our "partners" in the inn. You'll see.
Our staff are among the best in the province. They are gifted natural interpreters of the culture and history of this place.
BACKGROUNDS OF PEGGY AND JOHN FISHER
Peggy has an art history degree, and art gallery and project management background.
John, social planning, professional theatre management, documentary film production. He is the author of a best selling management book which became the genesis of consulting firm specializing in strategic planning.
They met in 1977 launching a ground breaking initiative... the adaptive reuse of an 1852 court house into a bilingual, two playing stages, home for three theatre companies, a restaurant, and an art gallery. Adelaide Court/Cour Adelaide was located at Church and Adelaide Streets in downtown Toronto.
Left to Right: Gabriel Fisher, Rhiannon Morgan, Molly Sexton, Luke Fisher, Maia Fisher, Peggy Fisher, Charlie Fisher and John Fisher
We are very fortunate that our boys Luke and Gabriel and their partners Molly and Rhiannon have come home from the world to work at the inn. You will find them in the garden, reception, serving, and everywhere else keeping the inn working smoothly. Molly and Luke's children Maia and Charlie are around helping out as well!
Finally there's the hard working cats, Spit and Fog, who keep us free of rodents, and dogs; Carlow (Black Labrador), Trigger (Golden Retriever), Aggie (Setter/Spaniel/Labrador cross).
We invest in community.
Each year we provide gift certificates to a wide range of community organizations. These are auctioned and raise some $300 to $400 each.
We seed funded and helped organize the start up of Riddle Fence, the province's literary journal.
We founded Business and Arts Newfoundland and Labrador to build a robust mutually beneficial relationship between the business and arts communities.
Just Before Dinner is a four part reading series, founded in 2004, that takes place in the inn's library. It is a partnership of The Writers Alliance of Newfoundland and Labrador and Fishers' Loft Inn.
We sponsor an annual Opera Brunch to bring a professional,opera production to Bonavista each year. Also we sponsor the music series at the Garrick Theatre in Bonavista and workshops at the English Harbour Arts Association.
We participate on community boards (tourism and heritage associations) and our town council.
Our proudest accomplishment? Probably creating 20 jobs.
APPROACH TO MANAGEMENT
We subscribe to the triple bottom line management philosophy comprising;
People • Planet • Profit
Management and staff engage the Kaizen Management System of continuous improvement.