Big Grin: An Update on Our Covid-19 Requirements

Masks away!

a bunch of COVID masks midairWe are smiling — and, for the first time in 15 months, you can actually see it.

As of Tuesday, June 15, 2021, Governor Andrew Cuomo lifted requirements for masking and social distancing for those who have been vaccinated. The entire team at A Butler’s Manor has been fully vaccinated, and as such, are thrilled to be able to welcome you with our whole face, not just smiling eyes hidden behind our Covid-mandated masks. (A whole year’s worth of guests don’t know what we even look like.)

Things are changing quickly, as businesses reopen again or are allowed to operate at full capacity. I feel the hope in the air as strangers on Main Street, Southampton, smile and greet each other because hey!– it’s been a long time since someone smiled back at you and you knew it! We are collectively daring to hope that the rainbow is real.

What won’t change here at our bed and breakfast: Our commitment to cleanliness. Individual early-morning coffee service outside your door. Individual tables, both indoor and outdoor… far enough apart for togetherness, close enough to chat with other guests if you wish. And, per guest feedback, we will continue to do room refreshes upon request only. Hand sanitizer? Readily available if you want it. And if, truly, you would feel more comfortable visiting us with a mask and having us interact with you also masked, please ask, and we will be happy to oblige.

So c’mon out, breathe the nice clean air without having to filter it through a mask, and toast a more hopeful time ahead with a glass of wine at our reinstated happy hour. It’s definitely a reason to smile!

(Anyone have any good ideas about how to repurpose cloth masks…?)

Cliffside…now fit for a King! (Bed, that is!)

Estimated Reading Time: 2 minutes

Like children, you’re never supposed to have a favorite when it comes to rooms at your bed and breakfast. But, guilty secret, I do. As a native Californian whose spiritual home is Laguna Beach, I admit to being partial to Cliffside, which we named and decorated for the estate in that town where Chris was butlering when we met.

Cliffside is our middle child, the medium-sized bedroom with the biggest closet and bathroom of its three similarly-sized siblings. While we have a loyal cadre of repeat guests who know Cliffside and love it, most new visitors to A Butler’s Manor tend to gravitate either to the less-expensive shower-only rooms (Oak Knoll, Goose Creek), or the larger spaces of the garden-facing rooms (Eton Court, Villefranche).

So we decided to give Cliffside some extra love. This past week we refurbished it with a big King bed and had California Closets (of course!) build in a nice new unit into its spacious closet, which eliminated the need for a separate dresser. We mounted the TV, brought in a cool coastal chair and floor lamp, all of which added floor space to the room.

New professional photos are coming soon, but in the meantime, here are a few snaps I took to show you what we’ve done.

King bed with grey headboard

Room to spread out — in bed, in the closet, in your updated sunny California-beachy home away from home in the Hamptons. What do you think?

Where you stay in the Hamptons is an important part of your experience. Come try our Goldilocks room, which may prove to be the room that’s not too big, not too small, but “just right!” Click here to check our availability. Hope to see you soon!

Looking into an inviting guest room with a decorative chair, desk, and mirror beyond

 

 

 

Customized closet with drawers

March Madness Bounce Back — Redux!

basketball on empty outdoor court

If March conjures up images of basketball to you, we’ve got a new spin on the ball

Estimated reading time: 1 minute

So…we created this fun promotion last year, got all the materials printed and sealed…and then WHAM! Covid stopped play.

Forget the 2020 date on the card. We’re declaring a rematch in 2021.

MARCH MADNESS BOUNCEBACK! Here’s the game plan: 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 2021. 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 2021 and we’ll open it together to see your prize.

Call us at 631-283-8550 or book online today and join the fun!

P.S. If you visited last March and got a card, GOOD NEWS! Your unopened card will be valid through the end of 2021!

“I gotta get outta here”– Surviving Winter, 2021

Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

Not long ago, we got a call from a woman in Queens looking to get out of the city for a few days.

“I’ve gotta get outta here. Are you–and the restaurants– open right now? Nothing’s open here, and I just want someone to serve me a meal for a change!”

Oh, we get it. The pandemic has been, and continues to be isolating, sobering, and stifling. But we are grateful to say YES, most of the restaurants in Southampton and the greater East End area ARE open for both a dine-in experience and take-out expedience. Some even offer special prix fixe menus. And if you’re up for a little bundling up, one of our faves, Bistro Ete, even has an outdoor “Apres Ski” menu.

So what to expect when you visit? Everywhere you go here in the Hamptons, you’ll find all personnel masked and gloved. Restaurants require reservations, don’t generally serve late, and maintain careful socially-distanced seating. Masks are required by patrons anytime they are not seated at their table, same as they are here at the Manor. (If you’d like to know more about Covid-19 safety practices at A Butler’s Manor, read more here.)

And speaking of a meal worthy of a social media post…banana crepes, avocado toast, bacon and fruit on a plateof course, you’ll be served an exquisite breakfast too! Chris and I are in California until April, but in our absence, manager Debbie Mckay has been earning stellar reviews for her secret recipe coffee cake… apple strudel …cinnamon raisin French Toast muffins, and more! Here’s a recent winner: banana crepes offset with avocado toast and a side of bacon. Beautiful and delicious!

 

So if you’re more than ready for a change of scenery, we’re ready for you! Shake those winter blues with a getaway to where you can be pampered for a change. Click here to check out our available rooms!

FAQ: Do you allow children?

Estimated Read Time: 2 minutes

Two or three times each summer week we get a phone call from someone who has perhaps found us online but has only looked at the pictures. They’re ready to reserve for their whole family and are taken aback when we explain that we can’t make a reservation for them, that we aren’t suitable for families with children underumpled bedsheets with an open bookr 12 years old. It is a policy we enforce firmly. Here’s why.

Reflecting the owners’ diverse backgrounds and interests, no two bed and breakfasts are the same, and we are all different from a hotel. But unlike a hotel, most of us are fortunate to be able to define our properties in ways that complement our offerings. Chris and I have created A Butler’s Manor to be an adult-oriented bed and breakfast. Our food, ambiance, and amenities are geared to adults. Our rooms, with only one exception, sleep only two guests. We promote ourselves as a getaway from the kids, whether it be a romantic weekend or date night, a mother/daughter get together, a golfing trip with the guys, or a girls’ shopping trip.

Yes, we have a beautiful pool, and sure, the kids would love it. But admit it: As much as you love your kids, are you really going to relax around the pool to the soundtrack of “Marco! …Polo!” Nope, and nor will anyone else.

woman relaxing with wine by a pool

Unlike Amazon.com, we know we cannot be all things to all people, so we have chosen to do what we do very well to those who appreciate what we offer. We’ll happily redirect parents to a local property that is set up to welcome children, ensuring that everyone has a great vacation.

We know it isn’t always an option to let Grandma and Grandpa enjoy the kids so that you can get away to recharge your batteries as a couple. But when it is, come see us, and let someone take care of YOU.

The gift of anticipation

Admit it. Ever since the COVID-19 lockdown began, you’ve done so much online shopping that your Amazon Prime delivery guy is now on your holiday gratuity list.

And now it’s the holiday season and you’ve got every possible thing you want, so what is there left to give each other?

Here’s an idea. Give the gift of anticipation: a Gift Certificate to a getaway at A Butler’s Manor.

Let them anticipate the opportunity to escape the confines of everyday life. Anticipate being in the Hamptons, miles away from the busy crowds, breathing fresh clean air. Because with only five immaculate guest rooms, A Butler’s Manor offers a quiet, safe space for you to recharge and relax.

wood burning fire in fireplace with glass of red wine in foregroundAnticipate some contemplative time away. Romantic wood-burning fire, perfect for snuggling with a glass of wine?  Check. Empty offseason beaches for (mask-free!) walks? Check. Early morning coffee in your room, followed by gourmet seasonal breakfast at your own private table in our dining room? Check.

You can feel good not only about your great taste in gifts (!) but that you’re supporting us small business owners, especially during this seriously trying year.

Give the gift that Amazon can’t deliver, but we can…the anticipation of a tranquil, much-needed getaway that creates memories that don’t expire or go out of style. Give a gift certificate to A Butler’s Manor. Call us or click here today and we’ll make it happen!

Stay Safe. Stay Small. Stay Inn.

Join the club

It started out as a joke when a room wasn’t available for the entire span of time that a guest wanted to book, necessitating a change of rooms during their visit.

“You’re joining the Sleep Around Club,” we’d tell them. “The elite club of people who have slept in every guest room at A Butler’s Manor.”

Then it became something we told repeat guests whose previous room wasn’t available for their requested dates. It was quite the inside joke: “You’re part of our Sleep Around Club now!”

Then last October as they said goodbye, lively repeat guests Joanne and Mark commented. “See you next year! It will be our final room for the Sleep Around Club!”

Sure enough! So when they booked their annual weekend getaway for October, we added a complimentary Celebration package to mark the occasion, and as usual, thoroughly enjoyed visiting with them during their stay.

“How many of us are there in the club?” Joanne asked, on checkout. “Maybe there should be a plaque!”

What a great idea. While a few repeat guests had laughed upon booking that they were continuing to add credits towards their membership in our Sleep Around Club, I actually hadn’t pulled up the records to ascertain just how many people there were in the club to date.

Now I have: There are seven esteemed members of the club, of which Joanne and Mark are now our most recent members. And there are twelve repeat guests who are one room away from the honor. (Think you’re one of them? Drop me a line and I’ll tell you which room you’re missing!)

To be clear, we are gratified by the return of many other repeat guests, some whom have come far more often than five times (since there are five rooms in the inn). Some have a favorite room. Others have specific requests, such as a tub, or a king-sized bed, or a third person traveling with them (automatically a Villefranche booking). But the members of the Club are largely comprised of those who have actively sought out a room new to them, just to experience A Butler’s Manor from a slightly different perspective. Since we worked hard to give each room its own personality, I appreciate their curiosity and confidence in us.

Yep, I’m going to order a plaque to hang in our upstairs hall to honor the few, the proud, the intrepid…the members of the Sleep Around Club at A Butler’s Manor!

Start (or continue!) your membership today by booking a visit! Join the club!

When music takes you sky high!

If you could fly over A Butler’s Manor — literally fly, it might look like the view over the house and gardens, beautifully captured in our brand new drone video by the talented team of JJ Photo and Dave King. It all started out through music.aerial view over property showing large house, pool, and extensive gardens

We’ve just added this magnificent video to our website. Check it out!

We’re winding up our 2020 high season under the COVID-19 cloud. As you can imagine, it’s been a summer where live entertainment has been difficult to find. By mid-July, when the Hamptons were cleared for Phase 4 Reopening, businesses and attractions around here were getting creative. There have been monthly Friday Night concerts on the patio of the Parrish Art Museum, outdoor concerts at the Southampton Arts Center, drive-in movies at Cooper’s Beach…all socially distanced, but with an understanding of the pent-up demand for entertainment in a form other than via Netflix.

man playing guitar outside surrounded by trees and grassChris and I are lovers of live music, and one of the casualties of COVID this year for us was the summertime Wednesday night Concerts in the Park series, curated by the Southampton Cultural Center. So we were especially excited to meet Dave and Jackie, who first stayed with us early in July. Dave is an accomplished singer/songwriter and gifted us and our other guests in residence with an impromptu open-air concert on one of the nights of their visit…a spark of joy during this somber pandemic year.

Jackie and Dave are a creative pair. Music, videography, photography, horsemanship (!) and more are talents they share between them. And they don’t stop working even when they are on vacation, something Chris and I can relate to. On their second visit, in addition to filming A Butler’s Manor, they shot a music video at the pool and at our favorite beach.

I Got The Sun Shining Down on Me

Usually, as we approach Labor Day, I’d be cueing up  Shotgun Wedding’s Tumbleweed Tuesday (also shot here in the Hamptons), but Life is uncertain these days and we don’t think the usual summer crowd is actually vacating after Labor Day this year. So Dave’s song is my current anthem — let’s keep Summer rolling as long as possible!

We are so grateful for all of our guests who have trusted us to provide them a safe haven during these scary times. As Autumn approaches, we believe our best times are ahead of us. While grounded for now, we will soar again, and in the meantime, may music or whatever makes you happy soothe and energize you. Come visit us and celebrate the change of seasons!

How will you spend your Southampton Summer?

 

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.

 

View of patio seating in a rainy garden

 

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.
Woman on a bike in front of large Colonial house

 

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.
couple in beach wear ready to climb into a station wagon for a free trip to the beach

 

Summer goes by so quickly. I feel the main reason for this is simple. Summer is short! Why not maximize every minute of every day? Wake up to birdsong in our king-bedded junior suite Villefranche, or enjoy Eton Court’s shower from which you can view the garden and pool to jump-start your day. In the Hamptons, it’s possible to enjoy an early morning beach walk, breakfast al fresco at a fine café or here at A Butlers Manor, followed by more fabulous options to spend your days than this page allows! Round out the day with a glass of rose, a scrumptious dinner and the most magnificent sunset you’ve ever seen. 
Sunset view from A Butler's Manor

 

Does life get any better than that?
 
See you at A Butler’s Manor!
–Dina

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!