A new owner has given Martha’s Vineyard’s Harbor View Hotel a $15 million renovation

The Edgartown hotel reopened this month with a completely new look, a brand new penthouse suite, and a noted new chef overseeing its two new restaurants.

The Harbor View Hotel on Martha's Vineyard.
The Harbor View Hotel on Martha's Vineyard. –Alison Shaw

This year, summer at the Harbor View Hotel in Edgartown is not a case of business as usual. A seven-month, $15 million renovation to the 128-year-old Victorian gem means significantly redesigned interiors, including two new restaurants, and an entirely updated building exterior, from shingling to landscaping.  

“There’s not an inch of the landscaping that hasn’t been changed,” said owner Bernard Chiu, the Boston-based chairman of Upland Capital Corporation, who acquired Harbor View Hotel in early 2018.

Chiu and his family are longtime summer residents of Edgartown and were frequent visitors to the hotel.

Working with Boston-based Niemitz Design Group, the hotel has added a palette of rich brown, bold blue, and soft cream to the public spaces. The 40 guest rooms now have cream wainscoting, mahogany furniture, and soft brown carpeting with a white lattice pattern. A native oak tree print was used for the drapes, bed skirts, and upholstered headboards.

A Harbor View Hotel guest room in the main building. —David Welch
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Not everything is new, though: “We worked painstakingly to preserve and restore the original moldings and doors to give an old feel,” Chiu said.

The 49 guest rooms in Harbor View’s separate Governor Mayhew Building not only received a facelift — in an American mid-century modern beach style — but it also has a new name: The Amity, honoring the fictional town in Steven Spielberg’s movie “Jaws,” which was filmed on the island. The cast stayed in the Mayhew while filming in the 1970s.  

Chiu admitted that he is a fan of the movie: “I watched it 10 times,” he recalled. “It made a lasting impression.”

Inside the main building, the Presidential Sky House was created from formerly unused space. The top-floor, four-bedroom, five-bathroom suite has a master bedroom with his and hers bathrooms, a kitchen, and views all the way to Chappaquiddick Island.

“It’s designed to provide an ultra luxurious stay for a family,” Chiu said. “The suite has the most amazing view of the ocean on the entire island.”

Bettini restaurant at Harbor View Hotel. —David Welch

The old Henry’s bar and Lighthouse Grill are now Roxana and Bettini, named for Chiu’s daughters. Roxana is decked out in bottle green tartan and retains Henry’s club feel, but Bettini, which looks to the harbor, is completely transformed by inlaid reclaimed wood and deep red banquettes.

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Both, Chiu said, are informal —  “Bettini is very nice, but you’re on vacation, you don’t feel you have to wear a tuxedo.” — and overseen by new executive chef Patrice Martineau, an alum of London’s Savoy Hotel, Daniel Boulud’s flagship Daniel in New York, Tokyo’s Peninsula Hotel, and Beverly Hills’ Montage.

“We went on a national search for the best qualified chef and found no better candidate,” Chiu said. “His experience with high-end cuisine is what we want here. Our strategy is to elevate the brick and mortar, but it is very important to offer a very special food and beverage experience, too.”

Roxana at Harbor View Hotel. —David Welch

Chiu brought in changes behind the scenes, as well, including switching to more sustainable practices. The restaurants will source much from local farms, including chicken, butter, and cheese, and add a chef’s garden.

The hotel will no longer offer bottled water, plastic straws, or plastic cups. Trash will be compressed, reducing waste by 80%. And there are bikes and a car to borrow.

“It is very important that we find solutions to do things better,” Chiu said. “We will have beautiful bottles for guests to refill, and they can keep it as a souvenir, if they wish. Guests do not need to bring a car onto the island. We have bikes, and if they want to go further, maybe to Menemsha to see the fishermen, we have a brand new Mercedes that is free for them to use. We want to be responsible members of this community and of the earth.”

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Harbor View Hotel, 131 North Water St., Edgartown; rooms start at $450 in the summer season and $270 in the low season; harborviewhotel.com

Correction: A previous version of this article included an incorrect spelling of Bernard Chiu’s name. Boston.com regrets the error.