Jayma Cardoso — the Brazil-born businesswoman who runs the destination hotel, restaurant and party spot Surf Lodge in the Hamptons — talks about her company and the brand attached to it with real, unfiltered energy. She waves her hands around while she speaks, laughs loudly and widely, and stops herself mid-sentence to give directions to groundskeepers and waiters at the Montauk, N.Y., establishment. “There are plastic cups and trash all around the property, can you send someone to pick them up? That chair is completely broken, take it away, please,” she says. In spite of all the action, Cardoso was able to take a beat, sit and recap some of the highlights this summer at the Surf Lodge, which, now 10 years in, continues to be Manhattan’s go-to party destination when out east.
WWD: What were some of the changes at Surf Lodge this summer?
Jayma Cardoso: Surf Lodge is 10 years old, and really, it’s a shack. No matter which way we put it — everything is kind of makeshift and falling apart. Because it’s a seasonal place, we don’t have a crazy budget to redo everything. We paint once a year. So we ask, how do we maintain and evolve the program? How do we make it a little more exciting than the year before? We decided to turn the staff quarters, which is upstairs, into an artist’s quarters. The whole idea is different artists come in, stay with us, do some work, retreat from the city and there’s no money exchange. Instead, you exchange whatever you’re good at. We had a meeting with ABC Kitchen and ABC Carpet and Home. We first were talking about doing a collaboration with the chef that became, oh, what about giving us some rugs? What about a couple of crystals here and there? This year, we are also doing a lot of different guest chefs from ABCV and we just had last week Daniela Soto-Innes from Cosme. Chloe Wise did a dinner with us, and a plate series. She took over all the rooms with her friends.
WWD: Malia Obama, Tiffany Trump and Naomi Biden, Joe Biden’s granddaughter, were all spotted at Surf Lodge this summer. Why did so many politicians’ kids come out this summer in particular?
J.C.: For some reason, this summer’s been very politician kid-friendly. It’s like, what? Are we on the political radar? One of our guests was Malia Obama, I met her. She’s awesome. It’s her second year doing her birthday week with us. Patrick Schwarzenegger comes to Surf Lodge, and Tiffany Trump comes often, too.
WWD: Was the Secret Service here when Malia visited?
J.C.: Yes. I have to say, I knew the Secret Service was here, but one of them was a woman and she was young and blended in really well. I’m like, is that a friend — but a friend with an earpiece? Still, what an amazing, well-mannered, normal human being Malia is. Considering your dad was the president, I think it would affect most people. But she’s very chill.
WWD: What was the funniest thing that happened here this summer?
J.C.: Memorial Day weekend, we always have Sunday as the biggest band, and it was Jessie J this year. It was pouring rain. It was raining so hard that even if we had a tent, we’d still be flooded. She comes out of her tour bus and Vice was shooting this whole thing for their web site and I’m like “Oh no. This is not gonna be good.” Jon Bon Jovi was also planning on jumping in and singing with her during her set. The manager’s like, “What’s the rain plan?” And I’m like, “The bar…?” She goes “No, no, like, seriously.” Then I’m like, s–t, what are we gonna do? But meanwhile, I go to Jessie J’s room to break any weird mood. I’m like, “Hi, I’m such a big fan, I’m so sorry about the weather.” She’s like, “Girl, did you do it? Listen, I’ve played little dive bars before. I can do it. We’re gonna make the best of it. I’m gonna rock the s–t out of your little dive bar. I just need my little space to do my thing.” So I’m over here putting up red tape, yellow tape, saying, “Everybody respect the tape!” But it ended up working out.
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