Bike to the Hamptons

 

You’ve been cooped up for lo, these many weeks and now–finally!–the weather and the COVID restrictions are such that you can dare to venture outside and breathe the air! And you’re considering a trip to the Hamptons. But oh, wouldn’t it be great to combine it with some well-needed exercise?

We’ve got an idea for you.

Gotham Bicycle Tours is a bicycle touring company located in New York City, and they’ve recently developed the Hamptons Bicycle Adventure: They tote your bags, provide the bicycles and the guides, and you pedal out to visit us in Southampton where you arrive feeling virtuous and ready for a dip in our saltwater pool.

Most Manhattan residents will note that if they were to actually ride out from NYC, they’d be facing a 90-mile ride. Probably way too much unless this is your passion. So Gotham has designed its Hamptons Adventure to start on Long Island, somewhere you can easily get to by train or car (and park there) and ride from that point. Are you up for 40 miles from Ronkonkoma train station? Prefer 20 miles from Westhampton? They are quite open to customization. Your bags arrive before you do, the bikes are picked up and you are free to enjoy the remainder of your time away with bicycles you can rent on-site from Pedal Share.

Or maybe you’d rather save the exercise for when you get here and have had a night’s rest: Gotham offers day trip excursions out to Montauk, or Amagansett, or Sag Harbor.

What if I get a flat? Or I just can’t make it that far? Or I got a cramp in my foot and need to stop? No problem: Gotham has drivers spotting you. Your only responsibility is to watch the road and enjoy the ride.

With each mile away from home, the scenery gets better, the air gets fresher, the noise quiets…Riding a bike to the Hamptons may be the perfect way to enjoy the outdoors after what seemed like an endless Spring in quarantine!

 

Hike the Hamptons, and Bounce Back in March!

wooden bridge into woodsIt’s been a mild winter on the East End of Long Island and though, as they say in financial advisor ads, “Past performance is not a guarantee of future returns,” we’re starting to hope that we might make it through March without the dreaded Winter’s Last Hurrah snowstorm.

As the Vernal Equinox (this year: March 19) looms in sight, I start thinking about lacing up the hiking shoes and looking for signs of Spring on the deserted hiking trails that ring the Hamptons. Because what can beat a peaceful walk in Nature with the one you love (and no one else around)?

Off-the-charts good hiking, with designated trails that range from one mile to over eight miles long, is the Mashamuet Preserve, which encompasses one-third (!) of Shelter Island, is especially comprehensive and scenic. Montauk’s Hither Hills and Walking Dunes trails are renowned especially for their contrast of woodland and dune trails that open onto spectacular ocean vistas, but Chris’s and my personal favorites are those in and around Northwest Woods in East Hampton. Want specifics? Check out a list here.

And if March conjures up imabasketball on empty outdoor courtges of basketball to you, we’ve got a new spin on the ball: MARCH MADNESS BOUNCEBACK! Join us anytime during the month of March, and for each night you stay, we’ll give you an envelope with a special prize inside which will be valid on a future visit in 2020.  Prizes include:

  • A bottle of champagne
  • Charcuterie board and wine
  • Set of 2 etched ABM wine glasses
  • ABM bathrobe
  • 20% OFF your stay
  • $100 off your stay
  • $250 off your stay
  • $500 off your stay

You’re guaranteed to win one of the prizes, but the catch is: YOU CAN’T PEEK! Bring back the unopened envelope on your next stay in 2020 and we’ll open it together to see your prize!

And finally, as to Erin Go Brach and the wearin’ of the green…if you want to get your St. Paddy’s Day on in a big way, join us the weekend of March 20-22. The Hampton Bays St. Patrick’s Day Parade steps off in that hamlet on Saturday, March 21, while the venerable Montauk St. Patrick’s Day Parade will celebrate on Sunday, March 22. (Hint: Leave your car at A Butler’s Manor on Sunday after check out and take the train to Montauk for the parade!)

Spring ahoy!bed of green clover for St. Patrick's Day

Valentine’s Day and Long Island Winterfest

With our house manager Deb McKay at the helm, A Butler’s Manor is open this winter and we’re pleased that guests have been enjoying the quiet beauty of the winter season with us. If you didn’t realize that you could get away to A Butler’s Manor in the offseason, I have two words for you: Valentine’s Day. It falls on a Friday this year and we look forward to helping you show that special someone a wonderfully romantic time! We’ll feature a split of champagne in your room along with a treat of petit fours and special flowers…just bring your true love. We have only a couple of rooms left for Valentine’s Day weekend, so book today!

people drinking wine at restaurant with wine barrelsAnd that’s not the only reason to visit this month. Long Island Winterfest kicks off this weekend — five full weeks of Long Island winery events, brewery tours, art shows, chef’s tasting menus, winter sunsets and live entertainment on the East End, from Greenport to Riverhead to Montauk. Hey, everyone knows the East End is great in the summer, but those on the inside track know how cool it is to enjoy all of the above without the summer crowds. A glass of Clovis Point’s Archeology while listening to the Hoodoo Loungers near the fire? Yes please!

And a taste of what we’ve got planned for March: MARCH MADNESS BOUNCE BACK! Watch this space for more information! (Or, if you can’t stand the suspense, click here to check our website for details!)

Come enjoy our “secret season” in Southampton! See you soon!

Kim, Chris, and Deb

SSHH (second in a series): All Buildings great and small

Sagaponack Village's Establishment sign in front of the office
Settled in 1653, Incorporated in 2005 – in self defense.
No, this isn’t a post about the massive summer “cottages” here in the Hamptons (although that in itself is always a great tour). It’s about a few more of the places to be found on our Selfie Scavenger Hunt of the Hamptons (SSHH) that was the subject of my last blog. SSHH is our tour game highlights some of the cool and interesting places off the beaten path that aren’t going to be found on some gossipy click-bait article titled “10 Top Things To See In The Hamptons (That You Can Then Brag About).”
Today we’re in and around the greater Bridgehampton area.
So to begin, here’s irony for you: The village that contains the largest house in the Hamptons also features the smallest of schools. Tiny Sagaponack  and its neighboring hamlet Wainscott each boast operational one room schoolhouses.
Red, barnlike building that houses Sagaponack School, a one-room schoolhouse
Sagaponack School dates back to 1776, though its current building, housing 14 students in grades K-4 was built in 1885. Sagg School’s earlier structure, constructed in the early 1800s was moved to Wainscott, where it still is in use for its 20 students in grades K-3.
Small shingled buidling that houses Wainscott School, a one-room schoolhouse

 

Probably 90% of the school taxes for Sagaponack School (and a substantial portion of those higher grade schools it feeds into) are paid through the property taxes of this behemoth:

 

An enormous (66,000 square feet) private house behind beach grasses
Yep, that’s one house. The rough unpaved road is intentional.

Sagaponack School’s original 500 square feet building is probably the equivalent of one guest bedroom in this 64,000 square foot mansion owned by junk bond billionaire Ira Rennert. Called Fair Field, it is one of the largest private houses in the country and sits on 68 acres of oceanfront property. In addition to the main house, there are several outbuildings, bringing the total of structures on the acreage to over 110,000 square feet.

A huge hue and cry was raised by neighbors when Rennert began building the complex. Though they were unsuccessful at halting the construction, the lawsuits did result in new, stricter restrictions on house size in Southampton Township…and to the incorporation of tiny Sagaponack as a separate village rather than just a “Hamplet” of Southampton Town.

(Perhaps as poetic justice for those appalled locals, a federal appeals court ordered Rennert to pay a $213 million judgment, upholding a lower court decision that found him guilty of looting money from one of his mining companies in order to fund the construction of Fair Field.)

Heading northwest from Sagaponack, past potato farms interspersed with horse properties, polo fields and a golf course, you may happen upon another house on a substantial plot of land that certainly doesn’t look like any other house in the Hamptons. Maybe even the world:

Two odd-shaped houses, one with a red zigzag door, one round with bright blue sides
This is called the Elliptical House, and yes, it is a residence. The house, barn, and dozens of oversized sculptures sit on the grounds of Novas Ark Project, the creation of the late artist Nova Mihai Popa. Situated on 95 acres and fronting an agricultural preserve, the property (though not the house) is often rented for large events and weddings. Chris and I call it “More Input, Stephanie,” because we think it resembles the robot featured in the movie “Short Circuit.” "Short Circuit Need Input" robot from movie "Short Circuit"
Finally, as you enjoy the drive on Scuttlehole Road through the middle of the South Fork, keep your eyes peeled for buildings that may not look as though they belong here, but oh, they do:
potato barn traditionally half-buried in an earthen berm
These are potato barns, and they’re purposely designed partway underground because they act as an enormous root cellar, keeping the potatoes naturally cool until they are shipped. Very occasionally you might spot a house that once began as a potato barn and was converted to a private residence. (Extra SSHH points if you do!) To me, potato barns are wonderful iconic structures, and as much part of the Hamptons charm as the villages that draw our visitors.
So got your cellphone? Ready to explore? Come visit A Butler’s Manor, Southampton’s best boutique inn, and we’ll help you see parts of the Hamptons that most people miss out on!

SSHH…best kept secrets in the Hamptons!

a tranquil duck pond with a bowler hat on a fence in the foreground
Respite from too much shopping in East Hampton Village?

We get two main types of leisure (as opposed to business) visitors here at A Butler’s Manor: those who live within about a 100 mile radius and return, often year after year, for a few days each summer, and those for whom a visit to the Hamptons checks off a bucket list item. Long ago, for these latter guests Chris and I compiled an itinerary to aid first-timers in maximizing their visit to our area. It remains popular and we go through several hundred copies each year.

We were on our winter sabbatical in California and attending a Jaguar car rally where you were tasked with navigating via landmarks (we won, by the way, yay!), when it occurred to me that it would be fun to go beyond the itinerary and offer folks who were so inclined an opportunity to discover some of the fun and funky corners of the Hamptons that make it special to us. And to do it in a way that created a personal photo album of the trip in the process.

So we created A Butler’s Manor Selfie Scavenger Hunt of the Hamptons (hereafter SSHH). The idea is to find as many of the locations as you can, take a picture of yourself at each, hashtag it #abutlersmanor and post it on social media if you desire…but regardless, experience a broader view of the area than just Montauk Highway and our famous beaches.Chris and Sydney were out and about in East Hampton last week, so Chris took one of our bowlers and stopped by some of the SSHH locations. Here’s a small sampling of his trip that I’ll title “Who’s Who Who Was (or is) Here.”

Smiling man wearing a bowler hat in front of the plate glass window of the East Hampton Star newspaper
Chris is here!

I wrote about Jackson Pollock and the Pollock/Krasner House a few years back (read it here). Many people know that Jackson Pollock lived–and was killed in an automobile accident–in the Springs in East Hampton, but you may not know that he is buried here too (as is his wife Lee Krasner). Following his death, Green River Cemetery became famous as an artists and writers cemetery–many of the headstones are works of art in themselves.

Boulder with brass plate that is the headstone for artist Jackson Pollack, with a fluffy orange dog in the foreground
Sydney at Jackson Pollock’s Grave

LongHouse Reserve is a 16-acre sculpture garden founded by textile artist and collector Jack Lenor Larsen. Located in Northwest Woods, there are magnificent lawns and border gardens and a pond, all created with an eye to the display of contemporary sculpture. The Japanese-inspired main house is serene and in harmony with the surrounding gardens. It’s open to the public for a small fee on Wednesday and Saturday afternoons, or by appointment.

concrete sign for LongHouse Gardens, with a bowler hat perched atop it
LongHouse Reserve

Lion Gardiner was an English soldier who established the first English settlement in what would become the state of New York. Predating the 1648 founding of East Hampton, Gardiner purchased in 1639 an island off the coast of what is now the Springs and Montauk from the Montaukett Indian tribe. The King of England granted Lion Gardiner a Royal Patent “to possess the land forever,” and until the end of the American Revolution, it was not connected with either New York or Connecticut but was an entirely separate and independent “plantation.” Nearly 380 years later, Gardiners Island is still owned by his descendants, one of the larger private islands in the USA.

Highly detailed stone crypt with a carved knight in armor laid to rest within; the grave of Lion Gardiner
Lion Gardiner’s Crypt, with recumbent effigy

 

So, does this whet your appetite to find some of the lesser-known corners of East Hampton? Come visit A Butler’s Manor, our New York Bed and Breakfast, and we’ll set you up with the goods!

Early September fun!

As I write this, we’re in between threatened thunderstorms (nothing compared to the folks anxiously watching Hurricane Irma’s path through the Caribbean), but the weather report shows the skies clearing and we’re on tap for a glorious weekend. And that’s good because there’s a lot on tap over this weekend!

Busy streets of Sag Harbor village, many people walking on sidewalks
Sag Harbor’s Harborfest begins Saturday morning, September 9 and runs through Sunday. Described as the largest block party extending out over the water, Harborfest celebrates Sag Harbor’s maritime and especially whaling history and incorporates an arts and crafts fair, games, food, history, and fun for the whole family.
Further east, Montauk’s Seafood Festival also begins on Saturday and runs through the weekend. Featuring local fish and shellfish, local wines and craft beer and live entertainment, it’s billed as a great family friendly event.
And, closer to A Butler’s Manor, Saturday also is the grand opening of Hank’s Pumpkintown, which grows larger and larger each year with more attractions on the farm for the kids. (And for those of us who want to avoid the traffic that this spectacle entails, just ask–we’ve got a map that will get you around it.)
A large field of pumpkins
In spite of the pumpkins, it ain’t fall quite yet! At a forecasted 72 degrees this weekend, after checking out the festivals above, the beach is looking mighty appealing…at A Butler’s Manor, we’ve got your beach chair and beach bag ready to go. Book your visit to Southampton’s top-rated boutique inn and spend some down time in the Hamptons!

Seeing the Hamptons like a local!

 

windmill on village greenAt A Butler’s Manor, the Fourth of July holiday generally brings out a fairly “local” crowd for us — meaning most of our guests are from the tri-state area of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. Most have been to the Hamptons before and are out here to enjoy the beach, shopping, and parties, so chances are they won’t be sampling our latest endeavor to help new visitors explore and appreciate “our” Hamptons.
water mill, Water Mill, NYMany years ago, Chris and I developed an itinerary to help new visitors find their way around the villages that comprise the collective “Hamptons.”  With today’s propensity for cell phones, tablets, and social media, we decided to take it a step further, and make it even more fun. So we created the Selfie Scavenger Hunt of the Hamptons–a tour of the area that takes in some of the iconic sights and adds many more whimsical ones, those little corners of the area that make it special. Know this: There is far more to the Hamptons than the beaches and Montauk Highway!
The idea behind the Selfie Scavenger Hunt is that you follow the clues, find these locations and take a selfie of yourself there. (Double points for those posted on Instagram or Facebook and hashtagged #abutlersmanor!) Find as many locations as time and interest permit, and you’ll return with not only a much greater understanding of this beautiful area, but you’ll have an exemplary photo journal to look back on!
A sample of the clues:

 

  • There are two one-room schoolhouses in the area, both still operational. Find one of them
  • Find the enormous house off Daniel’s Lane that looks like a hotel complex (hint: best seen driving west)
  • Find the historical marker on South Sagg Road with an arachnoid reference
  • Take a pic of the price of lobster salad at Loaves & Fishes Stand and post it to our Facebook page with a comment!

 

 

 

  • Near the corner of Madison and Henry, find a very large sculpture that’s perhaps making strides in the art world
  • Road sign that might indicate a depressing place to live?
  • Find the sign “Wino Way” at Wolffer Estates Vineyard

 

 

Here are some of the visuals of the locations on the tour!
Roy Lichtenstein sculpture at Parrish Art Museum

 

Two odd shaped houses, one with a red zigzag door, the other round with bright blue cladding

 

bench swing overlooking Long Island Sound, Montauk Point, NY

 

winding wooden bridge through covering trees

 

Two story white building with a large winking emoji painted on the side
Are you intrigued yet? Doesn’t that sound like fun? Come join us at A Butler’s Manor, Southampton’s #1-ranked Bed & Breakfast, and make sure you ask for a copy of the Selfie Scavenger Hunt for a chance to see the Hamptons the way we locals do!