Jayma Cardoso Talks The Surf Lodge’s Summer Magic

For many New Yorkers, The Surf Lodge is synonymous with summertime. The hotel boasts rustic-minimalist, beach-hued rooms, local seafood, surf, an art gallery, yoga and concerts on a deck overlooking Fort Pond. Leave it to nightlife impresario Jayma Cardoso, who previously partnered on Manhattan nightclubs Cain, Goldbar and Lavo, to transform Montauk into a destination spot. “The inspiration for The Surf Lodge is really from Montauk itself,” Cardoso said. “Montauk is the quintessential beach town and we just keep adapting to its raw and beautiful surroundings. The art gallery is a self-fulfilling evolution based on the artists we work with, but the rooms, restaurant and outdoor area are always evolving.”

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As a teenager, the Curitiba, Brazil native moved to America and studied biology at Fordham University, but working in restaurants allowed her to perfect the English language and discover her passion for the hospitality industry. “I was working as a waitress for Pangea when it became clear to me that I loved entertaining and creating experiences for people,” said Cardoso, who speaks four languages. “It was my command of languages that helped facilitate it as I could speak with so many guests in their native tongues.”

Along with an eye for art and design, Cardoso also has an ear for music and helps choose artists for The Surf Lodge’s famed Summer Concert Series. Past acts for the free shows include Patti Smith, Willie Nelson, Gary Clark Jr. and The Flaming Lips.

Cardoso has been exploring locations for more Surf Lodges in places like California, Nicaragua, Mexico and her native Brazil, along with possible Snow Lodges in Utah, Montana and Vermont. But like Montauk did, she believes it will happen when it feels right. Until then, the “Queen of Summer,” a title bestowed on her by Travel + Leisure and InStyle, basks in her surroundings. “Each hamlet of the Hamptons has its own unique energy,” said Cardoso, who splits time between Manhattan and Montauk. “I enjoy riding my bike to work, spending as much time on the beach as possible, oohing and ahhing at sunsets and counting the stars.”

What makes a stay at The Surf Lodge such a unique experience?
First time guests are always surprised by the luxury of our rooms: each of our 20 rooms has a beautiful view of Fort Pond and is uniquely curated. We use Frette sheets and Caudalie toiletries. Our new chef, Robert Sieber, just revamped the menu, for which we source most of the fruits, vegetables and fish locally. We are constantly collaborating with artists and galleries—one should check out the art in the lobby, the gallery and in surprising places throughout the property. Weekends we offer wellness classes, including yoga and hardcore aerobics. We also offer the latest designs by hard-to-find clothing brands at [our on-site clothing store] Surf Bazaar. And some of the coolest indie bands perform in our Summer Concert Series. No trip to The Surf Lodge is complete without experiencing the sunset from our deck with a lobster roll and a drink in hand.

The Surf Lodge’s Summer Concert Series has been a huge hit. What acts are taking the stage this season?
Summertime is made for music. The bands we have perform blend with and match the surroundings of nature, sunsets, beach life. I work with C3 Presents in putting together a list of artists we’d love to have. Some bands this summer that I’m really excited about [are] Ben Harper, St. Lucia, Wild Belle, Lukas Graham.

As an art collector, who are some of your favorite artists and which one are you featuring in the gallery this summer?
I love art—it’s the most personal way one can share their story with others. Some of my favorites are Daniel Arsham, Lucien Smith, Dustin Yellin, Jen Stark and Diana Al-Hadid. This summer we are working with [portrait painter] Richard Phillips, who I’m over the moon for. He’s going to weave an incredible story for everyone to experience this season.

Are you interested in designing your own line of clothing as part of your lifestyle brand?
Each year I oversee a new line that is branded The Surf Lodge. We also partner with companies on our staff’s attire. This year, we’re working with Katama and also Rails, which has a great sense of beach chic. I’m involved with the look and feel of the clothes. Ultimately, I’d like to expand into a bigger clothing or home décor line.

What are your summer picks for a weekend at The Surf Lodge?
It’s important for one’s style to reflect their nature and my summer style is beach chic. Start with a good pair of sunglasses. I like Illesteva, which can be worn on the beach or for a night on the town. And it’s always good to have a little beach cover up. Caftans are always chic and practical. I like the Hanna Caftan by Onia. Australian company Fella Swim makes simple yet sophisticated bikinis. I love the Dylan Top with the Jasper Bottoms. It’s great to be in the sun, but be sure to protect your face. I use the Teint Divin & Soleil Divin products by Caudalie. For parties, I think it’s best to stand out from the crowd and MILLY makes a Nautical Abstract Print Daphne Dress that oozes confidence.

What are your tips for hosting an unforgettable summer soirée?
Summer’s the time we get to be free-spirited and let our hair down, I find a more casual feel to your gathering is best. Roberto Pompa, the founder of Italian outdoor furniture company RODA, introduced the concept of the “interior garden,” bringing the interior to exterior settings. RODA’s contemporary furniture design gives you a feeling of bringing your living room outdoors. The best thing for table settings is to explore your garden—there are always great items ready to be clipped and trimmed to bring vibrant nature to the table. For food, take advantage of Long Island’s wonderful farmer’s markets. Ask any chef—the quality of the ingredients is the key to making you shine in the kitchen. Summer is a time for happy music, find something that makes your hips sway. Being Brazilian, I always like samba music for dinner parties or relaxing on a Sunday morning.

lisa heffernan

Lisa Heffernan received a master’s in Communications from Emerson College before moving to New York. She has worked for publications such as: Details, Nylon, Rolling Stone, Time Out, Newport Mercury, American Songwriter and W magazine.