Chris and I saw Downton Abbey: The Movie the other week and were immediately catapulted back into the great series we’d enjoyed and missed. We find many visitors are also fans of the program and are interested to know how the story compares to Chris’s real-life experience as a butler and estate manager. How does the story measure up to reality in today’s times? So we thought: Let’s dedicate a weekend to the spirit of Downton Abbey and the reality of personal service, then and now.
Downton Abbey Weekend begins Friday, December 13 with a champagne welcome and continues until Sunday, December 15. On Saturday afternoon, Chris will give a talk about life as a butler and what it takes to serve the rich and run an estate –or several estates — in the latter part of the 20th century and beyond.The presentation will take place over a proper English afternoon tea (yes, scones, finger sandwiches and all) here at A Butler’s Manor.
In other news: We’re continually freshening and updating the house and gardens here at A Butler’s Manor and most of it is, as it should be, pretty unnoticeable. But this past week, we did something that was relatively dramatic, because if you’ve stayed with us before, you can’t miss the difference: We repainted our cranberry dining room walls a warm, creamy mushroom color.
Long Island Restaurant Week is coming up in a couple of weeks, which is always a great time to hit up Nick & Toni’s where a reservation during the summer is nearly impossible to come by. But here’s a secret: You can get similar deals on almost any weekday offseason at dozens of restaurants in the Hamptons–without the hype or the crowds. And chances are, you’ll have better service, more choices of entrees, and a far better experience.
Here are some of Chris’s and my favorites:
Plaza Cafe (Southampton) As much as I love Chef Doug’s signature Seafood Shepherds Pie, I can never finish it. So I love that Plaza is offering Half Portions/Half Price during the week! (Besides, if I’m really hungry, this option allows me to try two different entrees!)
Le Chef (Southampton) Famous for its Prix Fixe option. I never miss the chance to have their housemade Country Pate with toast points.
Bistro Ete (Water Mill) SO glad to see that Chef Arie is doing a prix fixe in this lovely restaurant. Especially love his escargot! AND the fruit-filled square ice cubes that grace the water glasses. A class act!
Bell &Anchor (Noyac/Sag Harbor) This lovely place, off the beaten path on Noyac Road overlooking a marina, is always a wonderful experience. The Duroc Pork Chop on the Prix Fixe menu is exceptional, but I also love their fish.
Fresno (East Hampton) Another restaurant “off the beaten path” behind East Hampton train station, and well worth finding. On a recent visit, Chris and I both had a stellar orecchiette that was so good, it was dinner the next night too. And this was Chris’s yummy wedge salad:
Bobby Van’s (Bridgehampton) Prix Fixe menu with eight entree options offered all night Sunday through Thursday, and Chris orders the 21-oz ribeye Every. Single. Time. It’s a killer deal at $32.
Rumba (Hampton Bays) One of the most fun, laid back, Island Time restaurants on the whole East End. But take note: “Island Time” as it relates to the midweek Prix Fixe ends at 7:30 PM. So, to quote Rumba’s tagline, “Get here fast…then take it slow.”
Sundays on the Bay (Hampton Bays) One word: LOBSTER. Sunday’s “Twins” special, Monday – Thursday all day, is renowned: Two 1-1/4 lb. lobbies, plus a veg, for $32. On the nights we can restrain ourselves from eating everything on our plates, I bring home the leftovers and make my own yummy lobster salad (a far cry from neighbor Loaves and Fishes famous $100/lb. lobster salad).
Caveat: Offseason, few restaurants are open seven days a week. However, they tend to stagger days off so that there’s always a place to eat! Double-check online, or ask us when you arrive, and we can give you the most up to date information on what’s available during your stay.
So score your favorite room at A Butler’s Manor (check out our our FALL20 special) and join us offseason when there are wonderful deals to be had, and meals to enjoy!
We are finishing up our time here as Managing Innkeepers at
A Butler’s Manor. On October 1, beloved owners Chris and Kim will resume
their role of running this magnificent B&B in the Hamptons. They have been
missed by many of their returning guests.
Summer “cottages” on Lake Agawam
It’s interesting for Ralph and me to look back on the
experience, remembering how nervous we were in the beginning. After all, Chris
and Kim left us with big shoes to fill. Their 17 years of dedication to their
home, their business and their loyal guests provided us with a solid
foundation, but it was up to us to maintain the high standard of service their
regular clientele had grown to appreciate over the years and their new guests
eagerly anticipated after reading the countless 5-star reviews on-line.
Although everyone seemed genuinely happy to meet us and were happy for Chris
and Kim that they were taking a break, some couldn’t help but express just a
tiny bit of disappointment that they wouldn’t be seeing their old friends this
The good news is that unlike years past, this year all of
you will get the opportunity to experience the Hamptons and the top-notch
service at A Butler’s Manor throughout the entire fall season, as Chris and Kim resume
operations through the December holidays.
The summer months had a unique personality, buzzing with
energy as second homeowners and tourists “summer” in the Hamptons. All of the
villages were bustling, parking could be a challenge and dinner reservations at
some of the Hamptons “hot spots” were not always easy to score, but nobody seemed
to care. It was fast-paced and fascinating and fun as only the Hamptons can be.
And then Labor Day came and went, and the energy shifted to
tranquil and calm. The weather is perfect, the prices have come down, the
crowds diminished, and the restaurants are still open for business, without the
We can’t figure out why people haven’t figured this out, so
we thought we’d remind all of our readers that if summer got away from you,
there’s still time! That lounge chair at our pool is just waiting for you!
One final note: Our heartfelt thanks to all of the guests we
had the pleasure of hosting during our tenure as managers at A Butler’s Manor. We
had a blast. We learned a lot about the Hamptons, the B&B industry, human
nature and each other. And we hope our paths cross again someday.
I’m writing this blog post on the first rainy day we’ve had in a long time. I must admit, it feels good to have a break from the blazing sun and hot and humid days, and the plants and flowers are certainly grateful.
After so many weeks of outdoor dining, it feels unusual to serve breakfast in our formal dining room. Although fine dining certainly has its unique charm and our guests love it, serving their breakfast outside while listening to the birds sing, and watching the rabbits and squirrels frolic has become a favorite part of my day.
What I love most is guests sharing with me their experiences of the night before – some loving the Hamptons nightlife, alive with busyness, star gazing, fancy clothes and late nights. And others enjoying the quieter places, hanging out at a local’s bar or picking up dinner at the gourmet market Citarella which is an easy walk from A Butler’s Manor, and enjoying a beach picnic or a bottle of wine with their take-out at the pool or in the English garden.
From there our conversation typically leads to the plans for the day ahead. Guests exchange ideas that range from taking advantage of PedalShare, a bike-riding share program in Southampton Village (bikes are available in our car park!) to see the sights on two wheels, to asking Ralph for a lift to Coopers Beach in the “Butler Mobile,” a service we offer at A Butler’s Manor to avoid sand in their cars and the steep parking fee.
There are many aspects of my new job as an Innkeeper that I’ve been enjoying, but none as much as the awakening of the garden and how it seems to be in sync with the awakening of the Hamptons.
When we arrived in early April, there wasn’t much visible life in the gardens outside my window. I felt the same way when I went out to explore the villages and hamlets that make up the Hamptons. I was surprised to find quiet streets, shuttered storefronts and farmstands that seemed to be abandoned. Thank goodness most of the wineries were alive and kicking!
Having lived in the Colorado Rockies for the past eight years, part of the reason Ralph and I took this assignment was to spend some time on the East coast again and meet wonderfully
interesting people. We also wanted to experience a change of scenery and have some fun with the Hamptons “scene.”
We didn’t have to wait long before we spotted Alan Alda dining at Bistro Ete, a small, French-inspired dining spot in Water Mill. We’ve marked our calendars to attend the annual Artists and Writers Celebrity Softball Game in East Hampton, hoping to get a glimpse of Alec Baldwin and Bill Clinton while they slug it out to benefit local organizations that provide vital human services to the East End. And there’s nothing stressful that can happen in a day that taking a walk on Cooper’s Beach can’t cure, so the salty air has been a calming balm on our busy days.
In the meantime, like the area itself, the garden has sprung into full bloom. The roses made their appearance last week, following several weeks of multicolored iris, alliums, azaleas, and peonies! And our vegetable garden is producing much that we’re using in our healthy breakfasts, including asparagus, swiss chard, and lots of herbs. Bliss!
When we’re not watching others engage in playing sports, Ralph and I are fiercely competitive with each other playing ping pong. So when we learned that the 324 Lounge in East Hampton was hosting ping pong parties every Friday night, we got really excited. We’re used to playing in our cold and damp garage in Colorado, so upgrading to a chic, hip, hot spot in the Hamptons is an exciting night out for us! Loser buys lobster rolls at Bostwick’s on the Harbor!
Between hosting guests from around the world and exploring our new surroundings, the time is flying and it’s hard to believe we’re almost halfway through our season with A Butler’s Manor.
Looking forward to meeting and sharing our Hamptons fun and experiences with you at A Butler’s Manor, our Southampton bed and breakfast…and your home in the Hamptons!
Six weeks into our new experience as Innkeepers at A
Butler’s Manor and Ralph and I are finally feeling as though we’re getting in
our groove. We arrived on April 1st enthusiastic, energized, a
little nervous and oh, so naïve!
Kim and Chris were handing their “baby” over to us. Their
pride and joy – the spectacular English gardens that Chris is deeply devoted
to, their immaculate home which they have lovingly opened to guests for the
past 17 years and just as precious, the guests themselves (brand new and
frequent fliers) who we planned to take care of as though they were our own family.
First, a bit of history about how we wound up as Innkeepers
for 6 months…it’s something I’ve always wanted to do (hasn’t everybody?). Ralph wasn’t quite as eager as I was, at
first. An introvert by nature, he wasn’t sure how he’d fare with the
constant flow of people in and out of the house and daily meet and greets, but
we agreed that I’d take on the lion’s share of cooking and hosting and he’d be
back of the house, managing the administrative part of our new responsibility
and tinkering in the garden, keeping the grounds immaculate.
Now I often find him chatting it up with guests in front of
the fire, telling stories about what it’s like to own restaurants in New York
and curiously asking guests to share a bit about their lives in England,
Australia, Germany, New Jersey or wherever they’re from. I notice him wandering
out into the dining room offering to refill coffees, just to have an excuse to
ask them about their dinner the night before. He’s a natural.
Together we agreed that we’ve always wanted our lives to be
a series of adventures. We’ve lived up to that promise to each other, sometimes
going out on a limb to help the other follow a dream. In the end, it wasn’t
hard to convince him that living in the Hamptons for 6 months, hosting interesting
people and being part of their Hampton’s vacation experience was going to be
fun and would satisfy our craving for something new.
Living in a ski town in Colorado enticed many of our friends
and family to come visit often, so we are natural hosts and enjoy the
experience. This adventure is a genuine extension of who we are and Kim and
Chris have masterfully equipped us with all of the tools we need to succeed.
As they handed over “the baby” and headed west, we felt like
new parents slowly learning to rely on our own instincts and putting
procedures in place that helped us function as real Innkeepers. Once a guest
asked me if I felt like I was “playing house.” I smiled and replied, “Yes,
that’s exactly how it feels!” And I don’t mind one bit foraging the garden in
the pouring rain for flowers to decorate my breakfast plates . . .
It’s early May and still off-season, quiet and calm, but not
for long. The calm before the storm as they say. Because we’re still new at
this, the Manor has felt busy, but we know better. Very soon, the Hamptons will
be in full swing as tourists flock to enjoy the pristine beaches, charming
villages and renowned art galleries. They’ll spend their afternoons enjoying
the scenery at the festive wineries or at the Montauk Music Festival.
They’ll spend their evenings reveling in the top-notch restaurants and the
brand new “pop-ups” shops and eateries that make cameo appearances during the
busiest summer months.
Our phone is ringing off the hook as people secure their
accommodation at this sweet spot, using it as a haven to return to after their full
and fun days of driving out to Montauk or the North Fork or using this
cool article as a guide to fill their days, Memorial Day weekend and well
into the summer.
We’re grateful to Kim and Chris for their trust and for this
unique opportunity. We’re eager to make new friends, explore this fabulous area
and make A Butler’s Manor a home for ourselves as well as our guests for the
We look forward to meeting you when you visit our Southampton bed and breakfast!
It’s been a jam-packed, intense couple of weeks as we’ve been training them in all aspects of running ABM. But it has truly also been a lot of fun. We find the four of us are very simpatico and training flows from early morning coffee service into shared dinner preparations, underscored by continual conversation. We joke that we’ve been living a communal life these past two weeks (“Wait! Whose apron is this?”…”I think that was my coffee cup…”) but amazingly, despite the close quarters and the level of detail, I think I can speak for us all that it has really been a fun, enjoyable experience.
Dina has lots of fresh ideas for yummy, healthy breakfasts. Ralph is all about making things run smoothly and efficiently. Both are interested, engaged and on point…and both have the passion for creating awesome guest experiences.
Which is why we are so pleased to hand over the reins to Dina and Ralph for the next six months, absolutely confident that our guests will have every bit the same careful, personalized experience during the spring and summer of 2019 as they have had throughout our previous seventeen (!!) seasons.
I can’t wait for you to meet them! Join us at our Southampton Bed and Breakfast and see what we mean!
Early Spring is an excellent time to come to the Hamptons as a relaxing getaway. Here are our favorite reasons why:
1) If you enjoy seeing beyond the hedges at the big estates in the Hamptons, this is your chance. Most of those privet hedges are deciduous… which means that now they’re bare and won’t leaf in again in full until sometime in May. And chances are you’ll spot a few deer grazing on those estate lawns where no one is around to chase them away.
3) Nope, there’s not a whole lot of nightlife, though you can catch a set at Steven Talkhouse or a concert at Bay Street Theater on weekends. And while the summer shops are still polishing their pop-up retail spots for the Memorial Day reopening, you can still check out some of our best, such as Hildreth’s, Rumrunner, Topiare and Sylvester’s for great household finds, or D.J Hart, J. McLaughlin, Chico’s, Tenet or Jildor for clothing. Or, even better, check out off-season prices on consignment couture at Collette’s.
4) Bundle up and take a long walk on an empty beach, and pick out your fantasy beach house. Picture the parties you’re going to have in it in the summer.
5) Oh, and wine! Nearly all of the wineries on both forks are open every day, all year. Without the crowds, it feels like you’re having your own private tasting.
6) Most of all, the quiet season is a time to renew, recharge your batteries and most of all, reconnect. Has it been way too long since you’ve had the chance to look into each other’s eyes and really mean that “I love you?”
Now’s your chance! And to sweeten the deal, we’re offering a Spring Fling special: Stay for any two nights in April 2019 and we’ll take 20% off your room rate!
At A Butler’s Manor, we look forward to being your restorative getaway. Call to make your reservation today!
Meet our new Innkeeper Managers Ralph Landi and Dina Ferrante. This dynamic couple has had a long and varied background in restaurant ownership and management, construction management, life coaching, and more.
Dina has owned her own yoga studio and still does worldwide retreats. Ralph is an accomplished restauranteur, currently a partner in two restaurants, one of which is in NYC. They have spent much of the past eight years in Colorado raising their now college-age son, and as you can imagine from living in such a locale are avid outdoor enthusiasts. They love to travel, love new experiences (ask them about running a treehouse inn in Costa Rica!) and love providing a nourishing experience, not just culinarily, but for the heart as well. Spend a little time talking to them and you are going to want their life!
Just to be clear, Chris and I still own and operate A Butler’s Manor and will be in and out, but we are stepping away from full-time hands-on management. But should your visit dovetail with Dina and Ralph’s tenure, we are certain you will experience the same welcoming and relaxing experience that has been Chris’s and my mission to provide since 2002.