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…?)

Composting: Good for us, good for the planet

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

It’s National Learn to Compost Day! What a perfect opportunity to share a video Chris did for Butlers Brand a few years back, as well as his blog about composting. He’s a passionate believer in the benefits of composting and believe me, we generate a lot of compostables here at A Butler’s Manor. Here he is to tell you all about it:

Composting is an easy, environmentally friendly way to process much of the waste the average household produces.  The end product of this process is an effective and nutrient-rich fertilized soil, great for garden beds or potted plants.

Composting requires two or three bins with a width and depth of roughly three feet each.  The bins must allow good airflow to the compost pile.  To accomplish this, you might construct the bins from boards, allowing a few inches of space between each, or use chicken wire, as we did, below.

 

3 bin composting center

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A successful pile consists of layers of ‘brown stuff’ and ‘green stuff.’  Brown stuff should consist of mostly dry materials such as leaves, dead plants, sawdust, and hay.  This layer acts as the fiber of the compost pile and is also high in carbon.

The active ingredient in a compost pile is the green stuff, which generates heat as it decomposes. Green stuff is rich in nitrogen, which aids the growth of natural bacteria that speeds the decomposition. Green stuff consists of mostly plant-based materials; almost anything that would normally be thrown out food-wise can be green stuff. For example, here at A Butler’s Manor we generally juice over 20 oranges a day and use nearly 5 dozen eggs per week, all great for compost. Eggshells add great nutrients to the mix, as do vegetable and fruit peelings and discarded cut flowers. Other things to add: Fireplace ashes. Coffee grounds. The paper filters you brewed the coffee in. Cardboard egg cartons (rip them into smaller pieces first). Paper towels. What NOT to add: Meat, bones, or waste from an animal that consumes meat, or any form of processed food, as this could introduce dangerous bacteria to the compost (and can attract critters such as raccoons and rats).

But what really starts the decomposition process, and adds a lot of heat to the pile are grass clippings. These layers should be mixed together by turning the pile manually with a pitchfork, allowing air into the mixture.

man using a picthfork to put compost on a vegetable bedDuring the spring, perhaps from the cleanup of the flower beds, or during the late fall you will have an excess of “brown” from all the leaves that are available. If you have space, pile this up next to the compost bins so it can be added as needed. (I rake the leaves onto the lawn and use my recycling mower to bag the chopped leaves, as it aids in the breakdown of these materials. If you don’t chop them up, they can just sit there and not decompose so again, mixing is essential.) Same with grass clippings. Don’t just dump the whole bag from the lawn onto the pile. Add it a little at a time and mix it with the old compost or newer brown materials.

During the summer, when the grass is really taking off, you may have a lot more of this green material. Don’t try to save this in piles unless it is well away from where people congregate, as once an old grass pile starts to decompose without any other brown stuff, it stinks! How to get round this: Do you go to a coffee shop or deli on a regular basis? Ask them to save you the coffee grounds and paper filters and be sure to sprinkle these into the mixture. Does your town or village collect spring cleanup debris in large paper sacks? Ask if you can take a few and keep the sacks next to your bins for your “brown” in the summer.

When putting together a compost pile, try to alternate ‘green and brown layers but mix them well. You never should see too much of one thing in a compost pile as it is the mixture and the mixing that works best.

Maintenance: Turning the pile every week is the best choice. I find it best to turn it every time I add a five-gallon bucket of Green from the kitchen. Once the first bin is full, I turn it into the second bin. The top layer may not be fully decomposed, but don’t worry, it goes to the bottom of the second bin and has additional time to break down. If I have Brown stuff available, I add that at the same time in order to keep a good mix.

Watering is needed only if you are using a lot of dry Brown or dry Green. The pile should stay moist but not saturated. If the mix looks dry or there is an extended period of no rain, add water, leave a hose sprinkler nozzle on it for a while and let it soak in down to the bottom. Don’t cover the pile, leave it open so rain can keep it moist.

The temperature of the pile is important and serves to gauge how well the elements are working to decompose the materials.  A compost pile should always have a temperature between the range of 140º F and 160º F.  A high temperature would indicate that the pile needs more Brown and needs to be turned, while a low temperature would indicate the pile needs more Green. As long as there is a good mixture of brown and green the compost will keep decomposing. If you have too much of one type, it will stop.

Your secret workforce: Worms work to consume and process much of the Green and convert it into nutrient-rich soil. You don’t have to add worms as they will find your pile, but you will help them by regularly turning the mix. If you don’t crush eggshells when you put them into the pile, wet compost will form in the shells, and very often these areas are where the worms congregate.

I hope this inspires you to try composting at home. The gardens at A Butler’s Manor love the compost that we generate!

–Chris

 

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!

Dreaming of summer at the pool in the dead of winter

 

Estimated read time: 2 minutes
Winter is traditionally the time that Chris and I reflect and plan for the future, initiate projects, and in general, recharge for next summer season. We’re very excited about some of the projects we’ve finished in the last few months, and those we have planned for the months ahead!
View across pool to a summer garden

Before

 

We’re upping our game — and your space — around our saltwater pool. Check out our new decking — now a full deck on both sides of the pool.

grey and red concrete paving around a sparkling pool with garden in the background

After!

We finished this at the beginning of October last year, just as the pool was shut down for the season, so we are excited to see everything put together when the pool opens May 1. Can you imagine how great it will feel to relax in the sun around the sparkling saltwater pool this year?

And since Gerry and his crew at Summit Pavers were onboard, we repurposed the original brick decking to create a new space near the pool for a gas fire pit! Surrounded by landscaping, we expect it will soon become a favorite place to gather. 

Here’s a picture of the fire pit deck prior to its installation (the fire pit vessel arrived in January, with the snow — it was installed where the table is in the picture). I’ll have better pictures to share once we finalize the seating around it. But just think how great it will be to enjoy a drink in the firelight in the cool evening air…

Oh boy, is it Spring yet????

Ready to reserve your seat by the pool this summer? Call or click here to make a reservation today!

Helping you get the most out of your visit to the Hamptons

Estimated Read Time: 2 minutes

The Hamptons are known world-wide as a playground for NYC’s wealthiest, and it’s true that the area gets a lot of Manhattan traffic. But just as many of our guests come to the Hamptons as a bucket-list item. Chris, Debbie, and I take seriously our commitment to be ambassadors to the area in order to help our guests who are not (yet!) frequent flyers get the most out of their visit.

water mill on a pondTo this end, many years ago we drafted an informal South Fork itinerary that can be done in one day if necessary or two if exploring further. We also provide a detailed map that has every dirt road on the East End (a far cry from the sad map provided by the rental car agencies!). For guests staying longer, or those who would especially enjoy exploring Long Island’s burgeoning Wine Country, we created an itinerary that focuses on the North Fork of Long Island. (One thing we admit we can never do with this latter itinerary is keep up to date on new winery recommendations, as the number of wineries on the North Fork have gone from about 15 when we first opened to well over 50 today!)

winking happy face painted on the side of a white motelAnd, for those who really want to get down into the cracks and see the East End that those of us who live here know about, we created an expanded itinerary in the form of a game called the Selfie Scavenger Hunt. The Selfie Scavenger Hunt goes further off the beaten path to show off some of the historic, quirky, charming, or just plain gorgeous aspects of the South Fork that are never found by those who think the Hamptons are all about beaches, shopping, and celebrity sightings.

Because where you stay is an important part of your experience, click here to check out our available rooms, and plan a trip today. Check out our itineraries to whet your appetite – all are accessible on our website under the Things To Do tab. Ask for a paper copy on your arrival if you prefer, or access any of our itineraries on your tablet while you’re exploring our area.

Maximizing your time in Southampton and beyond — just another way we can provide our special blend of silver service! We look forward to seeing you!

Stay Safe. Stay Small. Stay Inn.

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!