Having been undergoing major renovations after its 2020 sale to Boston-based company Blue Flag Partners, Edgartown’s historic Kelley House Hotel is set to reopen by Memorial Day, with a new name and a whole new vibe.
The buildings were brought all the way down to their studs, and the renovation has consisted of a significant amount of rewiring and structural work, much of it unnoticeable, completely behind the scenes. The expansion is set to include new retail shops and a public pathway through the campus, with a relocated hotel pool and updated grounds.
The original Kelley House building is one of the oldest buildings on Martha’s Vineyard, and has been a downtown Edgartown mainstay for nearly 300 years, predating the Boston Tea Party.
Its colonial pub, Newes from America, which sits below the original hotel, has been a consistent favorite for many year-round residents.
Faraway’s 58 rooms and suites throughout the campus’ garden building and captain’s houses — Wheel House, Carriage House, Chappy House, and Mlzentop — have also been updated.
Blue Flag managing partners Jason Brown and Brad Guidi told The Times that although the Edgartown hotel will share its Faraway namesake with that of Nantucket, the Vineyard location aims to be one of a kind.
Earlier this month, Brown and Guidi, through hotel publicist Zoey Gulmi, agreed to answer a few questions asked by The Times.
How would you describe the planned aesthetic of Faraway M.V.? What Vineyard elements do you plan on incorporating into the hotel?
Guidi: We knew the Edgartown campus had so much untapped potential, and we spent months working on uncovering its true soul. There was a balance that had to be achieved between the historic 1742 building and the Garden House building that was built much more recently — not to mention the other captain’s houses and retail buildings spread across the campus.
We were immediately drawn to Martha’s Vineyard’s inseparable association with flowers and gardens on the Island, and the free spirits that attend to them.
It was from these influences that we created a muse that was our design inspiration for Faraway M.V. Martha’s Vineyard, a location rich with soil and native history, seemed the perfect place to plant our muse’s feet. We dreamed up a woman who grew up on the Island in the 1960s, tending to her gardens all the while learning the healing powers plants possess. In the evening, she would entertain guests who were in awe of her enchanted singing, magical intuition, and artistic know-how. As the years carried on, murmurings of her music, floral sculptures, oils, paintings, and curated nightly gatherings caught in the wind like a heavy fragrance. She documents the potent, powerful sense of calm, tangled root systems, and healing power of plants throughout the property. Every drawer, wall, cup, and corner is filled with artist experimentation. The air, pungent with a scent to breathe in. Works of art — floral sculptures, botanical elixirs, scientific sketches, and beakers of blossoms — all evidence the art in science.
Artists were commissioned to create custom pieces for the lobby, including paintings that draw on botany and florals, as well as floral arrangements that spill from the lobby bookshelves. We have scoured antique markets finding mid-century treasures that will adorn our rooms and common spaces. Each room will be complete with a record player that draws on MV’s musical influences, as well.
When we set out to rediscover the soul of these buildings, we were definitely inspired by the up-Island vibe that resonates throughout Martha’s Vineyard. By looking at the property through this free-spirited lens, we were able to start collecting vintage furniture that also reflects around the time period from which the Garden House was built. Additionally, we have commissioned artists to design everything from the hotel’s lobby artwork and logo to botanical sculptures that will pour out of the lobby’s bookcases. Beyond the custom furniture that is being made for the property, we continuously shop markets throughout the world hunting for authentic lighting, tables, furniture, and accessories that evoke this period of time, and will create a true sense of authenticity in the design.
How will the hotel’s operation differ from the past?
Brown: It will bring a three-star hotel up to a four-star boutique, lifestyle property, with upgrades across the operations.
Do you expect to retain former Kelley House employees?
Brown: Yes, we plan on bringing back as many employees as we can. Our same general manager, MarcAnthony Crimi, is overseeing the hotel in his new role as our regional general manager, where he is responsible for all our hotels across MV and ACK.
What are the benefits of being part of the Faraway company, and how will it stand out among other Faraway hotels?
Guidi: As a part of Blue Flag’s growing hospitality portfolio, the property will benefit from acute attention to detail — from the physical product to scent programs, sound, and operational touches. Like the other Faraway, Faraway M.V. is grounded in story-driven design. As the second in the Faraway collection, the M.V. hotel will stand out in many ways. It has a more integrated campus experience than Nantucket, as it has a pool, spa, gym, and multiple restaurants (whereas Nantucket just has Sister Ship). It also has its own logo unique to Martha’s Vineyard, a music program and aesthetic that’s entirely its own, although it fits within the maximalist design that Faraway is known for.
What changes are expected regarding the Newes From America pub? What about the Pelican Club?
Brown: Longtime guests of Kelley House will be happy to return to their beloved Newes From America pub. The Newes From America Pub will continue to pay homage to all the memories that we love about Edgartown — from bringing back the drink tokens to making sure the next generation has the same chance to add their name to the restaurant’s Declarations as in the past. That said, we also had the opportunity to expand the Pelican Club, which started as a pop-up in 2021. It will return to Faraway as a sushi restaurant and cocktail bar, and offer a completely different, upbeat, summertime greenery vibe, set along Dock Street.
What do you want Islanders to know about the new hotel? Is Faraway M.V. expected to fit in with the character of downtown Edgartown?
Brown: As our first property on Martha’s Vineyard, we truly understood the challenge of being the next stewards for the Kelley House, a historic and beloved property. We didn’t just strive to create an updated, beautiful campus in the heart of town, but rather we really wanted to lean into the next phase of Edgartown, while respecting its history. Because of this, we have been very thoughtful in every move we’ve made, always with the goal of breathing new life back into the property. The campus’ design is rooted in the historic backdrop of Edgartown, with mid-century styling, while remaining true to the laid-back island vibe and beautiful botanicals that Martha’s Vineyard is known for.
We also really wanted to finally present the property as one truly cohesive campus, something that we have always thought it deserved long before we had the opportunity to become owners. The idea of being at the forefront of adding our vision to such a key part of town is truly humbling. We did our best to use our attention to detail and focus on storytelling to balance design, hospitality, and access across the site, from both a pedestrian and guest experience perspective.
Ultimately, we want to create a new place on the Vineyard to inspire people well past checkout. After all, the best boutique hotels in the world grasp and give shape to the community in which they are built. We aspire to do just that.
Corrected to clarify attributions to Brown and Guidi.