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

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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

 

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!

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.

How We’re Keeping You Safe (updated 2/21)

Here at A Butler’s Manor, we have always taken our cleaning and guest comfort very seriously, and through the Coronavirus pandemic, we have been researching best practices to ensure that our guests and our staff stay healthy. Therefore, in compliance with CDC and American Hotel & Lodging Association’s “Safe Stay” practices and health professionals’ guidelines, we have implemented the following practices to our already stringent cleaning requirements in order to reduce the possibility of transmission:

  • We will take your temperature on arrival.
  • At all times, both A Butler’s Manor staff and guests are expected to maintain a social distance of at least six feet and avoid direct contact as much as possible.
  • We’ll greet you, cook, and serve your breakfast wearing masks. As per NY state requirements, we ask that you wear a mask in the common areas. Masks are not required once you are seated at your breakfast table.
  • You’ll see us using disinfectant wipes to wipe down common surfaces before and after each check-in, especially door handles, stairway banisters, counters, guest refrigerator, ice maker, and guest bathroom.
  • Décor has been streamlined to allow for sanitizing between guests. Items that are difficult to sanitize, such as decorative pillows, throws, and spreads from the beds have been removed.
  • Soft furnishings in the rooms will be washed or sprayed with disinfectant between guest bookings
  • Though we’re small, at only five guest rooms, if we are fully booked we will ask guests to commit to a preferred breakfast time so that we can ensure adequate social distance at our tables.
  • Breakfast service is available in the garden (when weather permits) or in the dining room; both areas are set with single-party tables for safe social distancing between guests.
  • Should you prefer a takeout continental breakfast, please arrange it with us in person or by text prior to 7 PM the night before and let us know when you would like it left outside your door.

For the safety of our guests and our staff, we have discontinued the following:

  • Daily room refreshes. For long stays (greater than 7 days), we will consult with you about a mid-stay sheet change and deep clean.
  • While we encourage the reuse of towels, if you elect to have yours changed, there will be a laundry bag provided in your room which you can use to leave them outside your door to be picked up, and we’ll leave you fresh towels. Similarly, leave trash cans outside your door for us to change out. We encourage texting to alert us to your needs.
  • Community self-serve afternoon tea service with “endless cookie jar” (you’ll still have them prepackaged in your room) and five o’clock happy hour. (Need an afternoon pick me up? Text us, and we’ll make you a cuppa.)
  • Community self-serve morning coffee service. Instead, coffee and/or tea will be delivered to your door at whatever time you specify between 7:00 AM – 9:30 AM.

We will be happy to provide some of our signature amenities by request, such as:

  • Morning coffee or tea delivered to your door at a time you specify
  • Sherry decanter and glasses
  • Wine glasses and openers for your use
  • A second robe (one is provided in the room)

This is how you can help:

1) First, and most obviously, if you are not feeling well, PLEASE STAY HOME. If we suspect that you may be getting ill while staying with us, we will have to cancel the remainder of your stay and ask you to leave. Please remember that while you may be able to survive COVID-19, another guest might not be.

2) You will see hand sanitizer containers all over. Please use them when you return from your travels off the property.

3) Please be patient if some of our enhanced cleaning procedures mean that some things may take a little longer than usual (for example, we’ll need to wipe down the doors and seats in the “Butler Beach Mobile” between beach runs, and will only be able to transport one party at a time).

It’s been a difficult time for the whole world, and we hope that your stay at A Butler’s Manor will help to ease the stress you’ve endured over the past several months. We look forward to a better, safer future ahead!

And, just to lighten the mood a bit, here’s a classic scene from “Cheers” that’s particularly apropos today!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ncc77oxnx5A

We look forward to welcoming you to A Butler’s Manor!

 

 

Welcome home, Chris and Kim!

Hi, Dina here!

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.
large houses on agawam lake
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 year.
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.
view of lush summer garden bed next to a sparkling poolAnd 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 frenzy.
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.
Smiling couple enjoying a picnic on the beach with wine
And to Chris and Kim – Welcome Home!

 

Taking the reins!

Hi, Dina here!

Plate with an egg on avocado toast, with fresh fruit and a flower

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.
Gulp.
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.
Smiling group of people in garden with cherry tree in bloomNow 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.
close up of bleeding hearts flowers in garden
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 . . .

Woman in a rain slicker cutting flowers from the garden
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.
stone steps to a sparkling pool, cherry blossoms in the foregroundOur 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
summer.
We look forward to meeting you when you visit our Southampton bed and breakfast!
–Dina Ferrante, Manager

Expanding our team and your experience!

A Butler’s Manor opened for the season on April 1, and the following day we toasted Dina and Ralph, ABM’s new managers, who will take the helm here for the 2019 spring and summer season.

Smiling couple enjoying wine near the fireplace

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.

Woman holding plates of breakfast for displayDina 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.
couple in front of front door, wavingI can’t wait for you to meet them! Join us at our Southampton Bed and Breakfast and see what we mean!

A New Year and New Faces at A Butler’s Manor!

Smiling couple on a sailboat
Ralph and Dina, on one of their many adventures!

Chris and I are excited to announce that we are expanding our team at A Butler’s Manor!

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.

We all look forward to your visit!

Sprucing up for the season’s start!

Noon, Friday of Memorial Day Weekend, and the town is hopping. There’s excitement and a touch of panic in the air as everyone does their last-minute spit and polish before the Grand Opening of the Summer Season. In some cases, this is literally true, as a couple of our newest merchants in Southampton Village are putting the finishing touches on their summer pop up shops — Sydney and I passed one merchant who was installing their sign! Our funny weather (overcast but warm) means that clothing on the shoppers runs the gamut between jeans, boots, and scarves to shorts and flip flops. No one knows what the weekend will bring, but everyone’s hopeful for some sunshine!

Chris and I have been putting our own spit-shine on A Butler’s Manor, with some exciting changes of our own. First: Goose Creek has gotten a makeover…and now features a KING bed! A little creative work with the wardrobe has allowed us to add a little seating area to the room. What do you think?

bedroom picture featuring two armchairs, a small table and lamp, and flat screen TV

 

view of soothing sage green bedroom with king bed, wardrobe, and windows

 

Secondly: Check out the new layout of our dining room!

dining room with red walls, and four tables with ivory tablecloths set beneath bright windows
door of bedroom with a bowler hat and a silver frame with room name
And a fun little change: We’ve updated the nameplates on the doors to reflect bit more of a “butler” feel (think Downton Abbey). When you visit, take a picture in the hat and post it to Instagram and hashtag us! #abutlersmanor #bowlerized
So that’s the news as we begin the Summer of 2017! Watch this space for some other changes to come — or better yet, book now at Southampton’s #1-ranked Bed & Breakfast Inn and experience them in person!