Renovating a legacy

Harbor View Hotel and two Edgartown inns show off changes big and small.


If you’ve driven through downtown Edgartown in the last month or so, you’ve no doubt noticed the abundance of chirping cranes, buzzing saws, and “hard hat only” signs. That’s because three Island hotels, all within a mile of each other, underwent large-scale renovations over the winter. Teams of local builders, contractors, architects, designers, electricians, and management have doubled up efforts in preparation for the 2019 season — and it’s go-time. The Harbor View Hotel, Harborside Inn, and Clarion Inn caught up with The Local on what Islanders and visitors can expect in the wake of their winter renos.

Harbor View Hotel

The iconic Harbor View Hotel, located on 131 North Water Street, is perhaps the most anticipated renovation of the season. The historic, year-round Island institution was closed this winter for the first time since 2007. The first phase of the $15 million project began in fall 2018, according to Harbor View owner Bernard Chiu.

“I saw an opportunity to elevate a beloved Island icon,” Chiu told The Local. Chiu bought from investors in January 2018. “I looked at the property extensively, and it called for a major renovation. There was no way around it.”

Chiu’s vision introduced fresh elements to enhance the guest experience, while retaining the personality and charm of the original building.

“My ultimate goal is to raise Harbor View’s profile among the premier hotels in the Northeast,” Chiu said. “I have a lot of love for this property.”

From the outside, the hotel retains its original Victorian-era appearance, with the same broad, expansive, and welcoming front porch. The top of the white railings were replaced with a brass rail, offering guests an unobstructed view of the harbor. Cushioned wicker couches and chairs face the water where the blue rocking chairs used to be. Chiu said they’re repurposing a few, and plan to bring some back. The entire exterior of the building was reshingled, giving it a brighter look from all angles. “We’ve also installed very high-end, covered copper gutters, which speaks to the attention to detail displayed throughout the renovation,” Chiu said.

Every detail, small or large, was thoroughly considered in the Harbor View redesign.

“Everything in the building, good or bad, I’m part of,” Chiu said. “It represents my personality and taste.”

Inside the main building, now called the historic building, there’s a brand new lobby that feels more like a summer house. Furniture and area rugs create intimate spaces for guests to gather. There’s a new concierge desk with added seating that fosters a more “personal experience,” Chiu said. Lobby furniture is a rich, high-polish mahogany against a coastal color scheme of blue, white, cream, and chocolate. There’s new artwork and updated lighting throughout the lobby and event rooms, which were also redesigned.

A custom-pattern carpeted hallway leads to the Menemsha room, a function area with new, reclaimed hardwood floors and dark blue textured walls. Framed black and white photographs and black accented light fixtures were installed throughout the space.

Down another freshly furnished hallway is the Edgartown Ballroom, where the same reclaimed wood was installed. Large windows overlook the harbor, and antique mirrors line the back wall.

“It gives it a more expansive, grand appearance,” Chui said. “And to let guests experience the beautiful harbor view through the mirror reflection.” That idea came about after seeing a similar design on a trip to Bermuda. Chiu called it a lightbulb moment.

The Harbor View Hotel has 124 guest rooms total. Upstairs the historic building, there are 41, and they all have a new look.

“We’ve created a design that reflects the Island’s natural beauty, both in the color scheme, and in the materials we selected,” Chiu said.

Custom curtains, bed skirts, and headboards have a native oak tree motif. Wood furnishings are also custom-made, and have a mahogany finish with maritime detail. There are new cobalt blue walk-in showers. Most rooms have a striking view of the harbor.

Peter Niemitz, an architectural designer from Boston, was the interior designer.

“Whether it’s references to the Island’s whaling and sailing heritage, or the vintage surfer vibe … We’ve given a fresh look to all guest rooms and public spaces …” Chiu said.

Over in the Amity, formerly known as the Governor Mayhew building, renovations should be ready in a few months. Decor will be casual, Island-chic, and juxtapose simple modern lines with a vintage surfer vibe. Details will include whitewashed deck planking in a high gloss, a blue striped fabric for upholstered headboards, and an understated palette with bright pops of red. The name Amity is a nod to the building’s history —  it’s where the cast of “Jaws” stayed while filming in 1974.

“The real showstopper is the penthouse suite,” Chiu said.

The Presidential Skyhouse is a four-bedroom, five-bathroom penthouse with a galley kitchen and dining room. Construction for the Skyhouse required building out a new corridor and extending the elevator to the fourth floor. This was the space where former Harbor View owner Bob Carroll used to live.

“This will afford visiting celebrities a luxury accommodation with full hotel amenities and service that was not previously available on the Island,” Chiu said. “The size and layout make it ideal for private entertaining and longer stays.”

The back patio and pool area are still under renovation, but will see a number of stunning changes and improvements, according to Chiu. The old bar will be torn out, and moved to a soon-to-be-built patio. Twenty-five-foot-tall London planetrees were installed, and the garden will be completely redesigned. Fire pits are expected to be ready in June. The nearby gym was also modernized with state-of-the art equipment and new rubber flooring for fitness-minded guests.

We can’t talk about the Harbor View without highlighting its two new restaurants: Bettini and Roxana Bar — named after Chiu’s two daughters. “They are both successful entrepreneurs and philanthropists,” Chiu said. “I draw a great deal of inspiration from them.”

Bettini’s focus is on American cuisine, seafood, and organic produce sourced from local farmers, fisheries, and foragers. Roxana Bar will serve international tapas and hand-crafted cocktails, with traditional soups, salads, and sandwiches at lunch. “The vibe is relaxed and sociable in the afternoon, and lively in the evening, with seating in banquettes and at the horseshoe bar,” Chiu said. New executive chef Patrice Martineau is the creative force behind the two culinary visions.

As an Edgartown resident and a longtime Harbor View guest himself, Chiu said it was important that the entire redesign retain elements of the hotel’s legacy.

“I understand the importance of the hotel to the community and to the generations of guests who consider it part of their family,” Chiu said. “Every aspect of the redesign is respectful to Harbor View’s original architecture and history.”

The renovation was a local operation that engaged so many Island construction companies, flooring companies, electricians, plumbers, and landscapers, Chiu hesitated to list them all. “I don’t want to leave anybody out,” he said. “Everyone did an amazing job. I want to thank everyone who was involved.”  

“When you are in the middle of a project like this, you feel like you’re in a battle,” Chiu said. “It’s a lot of work, and a lot of stress, but when you look beyond that at the final product, that’s where you get satisfaction.”


Harborside Inn

A stone’s throw down the road is the Island’s second largest hotel to the Harbor View — the Harborside Inn. Located on 3 South Water Street, the 90-room, seven-building, waterfront resort and timeshare underwent interior renovations of its own over the winter.

“Being a seasonal property, the offseason focus was on upgrades and renovations,” said Greg Mafcher, Harborside general manager and CEO. Common areas were at the center of the redesign. “Our goal is to be more involved and engaged in the community,” Mafcher said.

Renovations started in January, and tore into the lobby, Harbor Room, conference room, and timeshare common area. Colony Construction, a Falmouth-based building company, was critical in the revamp, as was local interior design group Vineyard Decorators.

“The look and feel is classic, elegant, and a bit more modern,” Mafcher said.

White marble surfaces were installed throughout the lobby entrance. Walls were painted white in complementary contrast to the pre-finished dark brown hardwood floors. Cushioned chairs, side tables, and a display case with merchandise were all brought in new by Vineyard Decorators. Interior designer Nina Hitchen added black accents with sconces and hardware on the cabinets and black frames on the art work.

Tones of light, bright, blues with pops of black continue into the Harbor Room. The large, open-concept space is a lounge area for guests. Hitchen chose durable outdoor wicker furniture for the interior with traditional navy cushions on sunbrella fabric. Indoor/outdoor rugs were also used throughout the interior — utilizing the durability of outdoor performance materials.

“We loved the rope detail on the wicker, and it’s a nod to Harborside’s roots,” said Sophia Brush Warren, chief operations officer at Vineyard Decorators. Vineyard Decorators was mindful in re-branding one of the Island’s oldest hotels. “It was very important to us that as we helped them update, we were true to their heritage and who they are,” Warren said. Old Harborside artwork, signs, harpoons, rudders, and other antique items were part of the design concept.

The room overlooks a striking and often unseen vantage point of Edgartown harbor. There’s a large deck with outdoor seating. “Maybe we’ll do live music out there once a week,” Mafcher said. “That’s the thinking and the strategy behind all of this.”

A private meeting room abuts the Harbor Room, re-imagined with a large conference table and comfortable seating throughout.

“We’re hoping this can be a place where people think about hosting an event,” Mafcher said. “Weddings, corporate retreats, non-profit meetings…”

Downstairs is a common area for the Harborside’s 2,700 timeshare owners and members. There’s a dining space, a kitchen, and recreational area for families to hang and watch TV.

“We had hand-made tables done from our favorite little wood shop in Virginia,” Hitchen said of the dining tables. “We updated their old wicker chairs with new cushions and added vintage propeller coffee tables from our own line of furniture we source in India.”

The property has a fresh feel, inviting look, new attitude — and Mafcher’s the driving force. He came in as general manager and CEO about a year and a half ago, and he’s ready to reintroduce the Harborside to the local and transient Island community.

“We’re trying to let people know, Hey, we’re here,” Mafcher said.


Clarion Inn

Just up the road on 227 Upper Main Street is another freshly shingled cedar building with a new concept, design, and vision. The Clarion Inn is a lodging chain, part of Choice Hotels, with locations all over the world. The Martha’s Vineyard property changed hands last June, and under the new ownership of David Rosenberg and Felice Kreitman, the Clarion Inn and its two adjoining commercial properties (the old Shiretown Meats and the Grill on Main) received $8 million worth of TLC.

So how do you put a local spin on an established brand?

“As a Choice hotel, there are brand standards that have to be met,” Kreitman told The Local. “Throughout the renovation and furnishing selection process, we went above and beyond the standards. Our goal was to exceed our guests’ expectations and provide a comfortable, serene, updated hotel experience.”

The Clarion Inn has 34 rooms, all of which were gutted over the winter. They’re building out six additional guestrooms, two of which are suites, that will occupy the space where Shiretown Meats used to be. This new Clarion addition will be called the Edgar House, and will open in mid-May. Town Bar & Grill is up and running where the Grill on Main was, and the 34 guest rooms in the main building were ready May 1.

The interior design was a partner project between Terrat Design, a Boston-based company, and Vineyard Decorators. Terrat Design did the interior design work on the hotel and restaurant, and Vineyard Decorators provided all the guest room furnishings and window treatments, according to Kreitman.  

The new look reflects new ownership — comfortable, updated, and fresh. Natural blues, tans, whites, and rustic browns bring a light and airy aesthetic to each room. Furniture was custom made based on designs drawn up by Andrew Terrat, owner of Terrat Design. Vineyard Decorators manufactured Terrat’s visions.

Max Gouveia of Miano Construction Corp. did all of the construction for the entire hotel. Gouveia and his family are Vineyard residents.

“We work very hard to utilize as many on-Island contractors and subcontractors as possible,” Kreitman said. “From our architect, to all of the exterior landscaping, electrical, plumbing, and even the furniture moving, we turned first to the Island.”

Rosenberg and Kreitman chose art by local artist Abe Pieciak. Limited edition striped bass prints in reclaimed wood frames are displayed throughout the renovated guest rooms.