Savvy travelers can tell when a hotel is built for love or money. Obviously, owners need to make a profit, but when passion is mixed in; well, it’s in the air. For 25 years, Bernard Chiu walked by the 128-year old Harbor View Hotel in Edgartown in Martha’s Vineyard. He owned a house nearby, and the grande dame resort always caught his eye. As the owner of Upland Capital, Chiu has built an empire of well-located residential and commercial properties in the Back Bay, Beacon Hill, Cambridge, and other Boston areas and Nantucket, as well as golf clubs in New Hampshire and Massachusetts, among other spaces. He knows a winner when he sees one. But Harbor View was different. His heart skipped a beat whenever he looked at it. This was emotional.
“This hotel is spectacular. It is iconic,” says Chiu, who stayed as a guest dozens of times over the years. “It is irreplaceable.” Actually, not quite true. Chiu snapped up the property when it hit the market two years ago. And he replaced a lot. “The bones were here—it’s a gorgeous structure— but we updated everything, including IT infrastructure and modern mechanical systems.” There’s a new pool garden, an expansive backyard with fire pits, lush gardens (“I like to say at Harbor View, every day is Valentine’s Day”), renovated luxury guest suites, a Presidential Skyhouse four bedroom penthouse, meeting and event rooms, and full-service wedding facilities. There are two new upscale restaurants—an international tapas bar and a modern American farm-to-table restaurant—each named after his daughters, Roxana and Bettina, featuring world-class executive chef Patrice Martineau—and what the island regards as The Veranda. “Families return here every year,” Chiu says. “And one of the things everybody talks about are the great memories they have on the veranda looking at the harbor and the lighthouse.”
Legacy is important to Chiu, who has his own in this country. He grew up in Hong Kong and moved to Boston in part to head up Duracraft, an appliance company that was sold to Honeywell for $300 million. Since then, he’s continued his entrepreneurial streak in the music industry as well as real estate. Family is a priority (his daughters and sons-in-law are involved in his work), and so are vacations. With that in mind, Chiu says he has elevated the Harbor View experience for vacationers with such amenities as complimentary Mercedes vehicles, bikes, a forthcoming spa and a comprehensive concierge service that accommodates just about any request you could imagine. In short, Harbor View is a full-service luxury resort that Chiu managed to concept and construct in 16 months.
Chiu’s mission is about honoring the hotel’s past and loving it enough to ensure another 128 years. “My dream day for a guest is to go for a swim, enjoy a cocktail sitting near the fire pit, have a wonderful meal at Bettini or Roxana and then finishing off the evening overlooking the water on our veranda,” he says. “That is my vision.” 131 North Water St., Edgartown, 844.248.1167, harborviewhotel.com