The ethos of The Surf Lodge hasn’t wavered much since Jayma Cardoso opened the Montauk hotel and music venue in 2008: From the start, the Brazilian-born nightlife veteran set out to channel the beauty and spirit of the remote hamlet on the South Shore of Long Island.
But in the decade since Cardoso has opened the 20-room motel-style property, which also includes a restaurant, the interests of The Surf Lodge have snowballed immensely.
The number of musicians who have taken the stage has tallied itself beyond count (including Willie Nelson, Patti Smith, Courtney Love, and Jimmy Buffett); a space once used for storage has been converted into a gallery featuring artists like Richard Phillips and Daniel Arsham; and a rotating batch of wellness initiatives are added each year (this summer, that includes Saturday morning workout classes with Bari Studio, and amenities like Gwyneth Paltrow’s GoopGlow Morning Skin Superpowder for guests).
It seemed about time then, with this in mind, that Cardoso looked to the future of not only the programming of the venue, but its space as well. After the 2017 summer season, which continued for the hotel and restaurant through the end of September, she began work on a renovation and “reinvention” of The Surf Lodge that included 11 new guest rooms primarily for artists in residence as well as a new outdoor stage.
Instead of expanding the property which overlooks Fort Pond, Cardoso, whose late father was an architect, chose to renovate the staff quarters and rooms used for her office on the second floor. As we look toward Memorial Day weekend and the impending summer season, Cardoso gives us an exclusive look into the final results as well as her design ideology.
Architectural Digest: Let’s talk about The Surf Lodge’s expansion. How are they divided, and what did you do to the property specifically?
Jayma Cardoso: It’s not really an expansion, but more so a renovation and reinvention. I always wanted to create a richer experience for guests and to be able to house the artisans that help create the overall experience and feel at The Surf Lodge. We used to have staff quarters upstairs in the main building, along with an office. But as we continued to develop, I realized I needed this space to complement the overall experience. Now we have 11 new rooms for our artists who can’t afford to stay in Montauk but give so much inspiration to us! I like having artists we work with in residence. I want to be able to house the fine artists, the writers, the poets, the musicians, the culinary talent, what have you. They really help create the overall vibe and experience that I strive for – of us creating a shared story. I think it makes for such a richer experience.
For Memorial Day weekend, fashion designer Maxwell Osborne and the Public School crew will take the three-bedroom suite upstairs in the new space, and artist Richard Phillips will inaugurate the second floor. Artist and nightlife impresario Andre Saravia is taking over the space the week after Memorial Day weekend with his artist friends.
AD: You house a lot of your well-known musical guests, friends, and project collaborators when they come visit. Was providing them accommodations a reason you wanted to expand further, since limited space is always a consideration?
JC: Yes, it was one of the driving factors for several reasons. But one of them is for them to be in Montauk. Montauk is such an inspirational place. It holds so much beauty. I want the people there that can capture this spirit and essence via their work and be able to share it with others. Montauk and The Surf Lodge are blessed by artisans both past and present. I feel it’s my responsibility to continue this legacy. We have incorporated several of our former artists into the new spaces. Artists Michael Bevilacqua, Morgan Blair, and Jen Stark all have pieces hanging.
AD: Jen Stark is doing the art design for the new stage. How did you two meet?
JC: We met through East Hampton gallerist Eric Firestone and I really just connected to her work. We had so much to talk about that it just became a necessity that we do something together. Our first collaboration was the iconic rainbow artwork on our exterior façade. The stage is our second.
AD: What else has expanded at The Surf Lodge in terms of space, or what has changed during this renovation?
JC: We partnered with ABC Carpet Home to breathe new life into the existing space. So beyond helping us create rooms for our artists in residence, they helped us in creating a cocoon of wellness for our guests. I wanted something much more spiritual that really gets guests in the right mind-set to help them accomplish their individual wellness goals. I believe in energy: that we create it, share it. And whether it’s crystals, or lighting or what we rest upon, I want the renovated upstairs to be an area to help guests get off on the right step for this journey. ABC really understood and shared in my vision. I had so much fun working with Amy Ilias, the EVP of Art and Design at ABC, running around and picking out rugs and furniture and accessories. She wanted me to share my vision and helped me accomplish it. I loved everything in the store so much she had to help edit me! I feel the end result feels almost like an extension of my own house in Montauk.
AD: What is your design ethos? What kind of pieces do you gravitate toward? And how do you keep the aesthetic of the guest rooms symbiotic with that of the public areas, like the restaurant?
JC: Bohemian chic. But, really, I believe design should be a good dance partner to the natural environment of where your design lives. In this case, it’s Montauk: a beautiful, sleepy, fishing, beach town. So bohemian chic just naturally fits. I think the most important thing is to stay true to your surroundings. In our case it was Montauk and really letting the natural beauty that encompasses the hotel shine. But I’ve always envisioned the hotel being a reflection of the beauty of Montauk and not straying away from the magic that lives here. So, I think just being true to your surroundings is the key.