Coronavirus – Not here, and not worried

There is a lot of panic about COVID-19, a.k.a. the Coronavirus, much of it fueled by media hype and fear mentality. Here at A Butler’s Manor, we urge you to please stay safe and take all precautions to minimize the possibility of infection for yourself and those around you. However, please be aware of the facts behind the hype, as detailed in such resources as this article. Take three deep breaths, wash your hands again, and use common sense. And before you book, or before you consider canceling, please note that unless our town is put under some form of quarantine, our current cancellation policy remains in effect.

On the other hand, if the relentless news makes you want to cover your head (and face) and run away, but the thought of getting on a plane (to say nothing of a cruise ship) makes you shudder, may we offer some thoughts for your consideration:

A Butler’s Manor is drivable, and in your car, no one you don’t know is going to sneeze on you.

We are located hours from densely-populated urban environments, with lots of clean, fresh air, trees, and water. In fact, our tap water comes from an underground protected aquafer under the Pine Barrens that form an ecological and physical barrier to creeping development on the East End.

We are a small, immaculately clean bed and breakfast with only five guest rooms. We cook “clean,” sourced locally when possible.

And best of all, you’ll be able to enjoy a respite from it all in a quiet, beautiful area far from the madding (and worrying) crowds.

So skip the ship. Stay at a bed and breakfast. Stay at A Butler’s Manor! Give us a head’s up, and we’ll greet you with a bottle of Corona (the beer)!

 

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!

Where to find those “Stately Home & Garden” Tours in the Hamptons

garden picture with cherry tree in bloom and large maple tree overlooking patio at back of yellow Colonial style house
It always feels like High Spring when the cherry trees are in bloom.  Chris is busy putting in all sorts of vegetables, while Sydney crashes through the bushes on squirrel patrol.They are both sooooo happy to be out in the garden.

 

Happy golden dog looking upI was talking to our guest Karen today who wondered if there were any houses or gardens that were open to the public, like the mansion tours you find in Newport, RI. (Or the Downton Abbey tours of Highclere Castle in Berkshire, England.) Sadly, that’s not a Hamptons thing; all the houses that aren’t historical properties are in private hands, and the only time you’ll find them open to the public is for a charitable cause.
With one exception! THIS FRIDAY, May 12, is National Public Gardens Day, and therefore, three of the most beautiful public gardens in our area are offering a free one-hour guided tour. The participating gardens are Bridge Gardens (Bridgehampton)–10:30 AM, Madoo Conservancy  (Sagaponack)–1:00 PM, and Long House Reserve (East Hampton)–3:00 PM.
As to those tours for charitable causes, there are a few of them coming up:
Saturday, June 3: The Southampton Historical Museum’s “Insider’s Tour” of private homes in Southampton’s finest neighborhoods runs between 1:00-4:00 PM, followed by a champagne reception at the Museum’s Rogers Mansion. Tickets are $95 in advance, $110 on the day of the tour. For info or to purchase tickets, call 631.283.2494 or visit  southamptonhistoricalmuseum.org
 
Saturday and Sunday, June 10 & 11: Parrish Art Museum’s “Landscape Pleasures” weekend kicks off with a Saturday morning symposium, followed by Sunday’s self-guided garden tour of East End gardens and properties. Tickets for the two-day event start at $175 and may be purchased by calling 631-283-2118, ext. 133, or visiting parrishart.org
Saturday, June 17: Animal Rescue Foundation (ARF)’s 31st Annual Garden Tour will feature a self-guided tour of 6+ gardens around East Hampton. Tickets are $85 for the tour, or $175 which includes a pre-tour cocktail party on Friday, June 16, at a private residence. Tickets are available by calling 631-537-0400 or visiting arfhamptons.org
Friday, July 7: Join the annual Friends of John Jermain Library house tour of area home in Sag Harbor between 11:00 AM and 4:00 PM. Tickets are $45 in advance, $50 the day of the tour. More info: 631-725-1396.
Friday, July 14: Westhampton Performing Arts Center’s annual house and garden tour and luncheon at the Westhampton Beach Country Club from 11:00 AM to 4:00 PM features homes in Westhampton, Quogue, and East Quogue. Tickets are $85 (tour only) or $125 (including the luncheon). Call 631-288-2350 for tickets, or visit whbpac.org.
So grab your idea sketchbook and your garden party hat and make your plans now to come visit us at A Butler’s Manor, your Southampton, NY Bed and Breakfast. Take a tour and benefit one of our great causes, then return and spend all the time you like in our English garden, without the crowds…we’ll have the tea ready for you!

Happiest in the Hamptons–Spring!

Backpack with "Happiest in the Hamptons" written on itEarly spring is always such a tough call. The weather may be clear and cool, as it was earlier this week, or it can be drizzly and chilly, as it was today. Or sometimes, we even get a heat wave! In our first year of operation, 2002, we were serving breakfast in the garden this week because temps had spiked to near 80 degrees.
Chair and sofa with sidetable set with whiskey glasses before a fireplace surrounded by white bookshelvesIt was the first day of the Spring Sidewalk Sale in Southampton Village, and the merchants on Main and Job’s Lane gamely battled the periodic drizzle. Thankfully, the weather seems poised to clear tonight, so that tomorrow’s Sidewalk Sale should be a warmer experience! Saw this cute display of merchandise on a recent walk down Main Street, Southampton. Bet this line will sell out fast!
In the meantime, our wood burning fireplace is creating a great place to return to after exploring the area.
Got word of an article just published in Architectural Digest that listed nine of America’s most beautiful golf coursesAt the top of the list, of course, is Augusta National in Georgia, where the annual Master’s Tournament was recently held. But how gratifying is it to learn that THREE of the remaining eight courses are located right here in the HamptonsShinnecock Hills Golf Club and National Golf Links, next door to each other here in Southampton, and The Bridge in Bridgehampton. Pretty impressive! (And no, sadly, we don’t have an in at any of them to get a tee time, alas.)

Door to guestroom with bowler hat hung on it above silver frame with room nameChris and I are busy planting, painting, and rearranging to add new touches to A Butler’s Manor. In the next few weeks, look for some tweaks in our dining room, Goose Creek, and Villefranche. Watch this space for details!

And here’s our new take on the doors to our rooms, playing up our butlering background. Fans of Downton Abbey will recognize the ubiquitous bowler worn by the venerable Mr. Carson. Make sure you take a selfie in the bowler hat when you visit! Extra credit for posting it to Instagram and or Facebook! #abutlersmanor #bowlerized 


couple preparing breakfast in a community demonstrationThis past Wednesday, I had an opportunity to demonstrate some of our signature breakfast dishes at Rogers Memorial Library. The theme I chose was entrees that can be prepared the night before and baked off in the morning. We featured one savory dish and one sweet dish, and our Raisin Bran Muffins. Chris came along to serve out the samples and charm everyone and generally play magician’s assistant. It was a lot of fun!

Speaking of creativity in the kitchen, I’ve been having some fun making some breakfasts I can only really do when the house isn’t full…menus that are just too labor-intensive for a full house. This is what was on the menu this morning: Orange Ebelskivers –a filled pancake–with fresh strawberries and Nutella…looks yummy, no? One of the perks of offseason visits!!

plate with ebelskivers (round filled pancakes) drizzled with Nutella and strawberries
Spring is a great time to explore the Hamptons and the North Fork before the crowds get here, and where you stay is an important part of your Hamptons experience. Come visit us at A Butler’s Manor, your Southampton, NY Bed & BreakfastClick here to check out our available rooms.
Hope to see you soon!

Welcoming Spring 2017!

We opened for the 2017 Season this week. It’s early Spring, and that always makes us excited for the new experiences to come. I’m looking at paint chips and ideas for the guest rooms, while the garden has had its spring cleaning, and Chris is happily planning and planting.  He’s got himself a little temporary greenhouse in which to start his seedlings, which should be an improvement on previous years when flats occupied floor space all over the office until size and weather permitted their replanting outdoors.

vegetable garden, newly planted
Beginnings of the vegetable garden!

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woman with golden dog
Sydney and Kim in Palm Springs, en route back to the Manor
You’ll find a new addition to the staff at A Butler’s Manor: Chris and I adopted a dog over the winter. Her name is Sydney, and she’s four years old, rescued from a shelter in Mexico! She’s probably some mix of breeds, but she’s definitely of the hunter class (perhaps Nova Scotia Duck Toller Retriever?) because she is a sweet, mellow little girl…until she goes outside.And then — if it moves, she chases it. With Sydney on patrol, we should have far fewer squirrels and rabbits in the garden. (Chris figures she earns all her goodies just for that service.)
The first guests of our new season were a lovely couple from the Philly area. John Stango is an artist and he’s out here to transition between galleries. His work is fairly large in scale, so the art dealer met them here in the living room to inspect his canvasses. They are fun, bright pop-art pieces and he joked that we could redecorate the Manor with them. What do you think?
Man displaying large scale comic art canvasses in living room

 

artist John Stango holding the canvass of one of his paintings, an abstract American flag, next to canvas of a Yankee baseball player
In other news, it’s always interesting watching transformations in the village. To that end, we’re scheduled to try out one of the latest restaurant changes tomorrow night: Job’s Lane Gastropub, a completely new endeavor by Billy Oster, who has operated the prime corner of Windmill Lane and Job’s Lane as Tuscan House for the past 13 years.  Gastropub promises to offer the best of the Tuscan House plus “Euro-American pub fare.” Watch this space for the report!

The Butler, Butlers Brand, and how to peek into one of Those Houses

Just saw that I last blogged in mid June. Whoa. Summer sure has a way of getting away from me (which is probably the opposite of how our guests feel, i.e., getting away for the summer).

But here’s a taste of what the summer sky looked like last week:

colorful sunset over boats in a marina
So under the heading of What’s New and Exciting: In addition to welcoming awesome guests from near and far, Chris has been active in a new venture called Butlers Brand Concentrated Cleaning Solutions.

butler being filmed demonstrating a cleaning product in a large white upscale kitchen
The butler on the set

The company was founded by former butler colleagues who saw the need for a completely scent-free, non-chemical, yet highly effective green cleaning product to be used in the estates of the rich and famous…and in the homes of the hoi polloi (that’s the rest of us). Chris is a spokesperson for the product, helping to launch it at a “soft opening” about a year ago at the DEMA (Domestic Estate Managers Association) conference in Florida, and contributing blog material, tips, and expertise.

Smiling man holding cleaning product for sale at local farmer's market
At the Farmer’s Market last Sunday
We’ve been using Butlers Brand Universal Cleaner at A Butler’s Manor for over a year now. Admittedly, our housekeepers were wary of a product that didn’t have any odor (“how can you tell it’s clean if it doesn’t smell like [bleach, PineSol, Murphy’s Wood Soap, Lysol–name your poison]?”) and so we eased into the change by adding a couple drops on doTerra “On Guard” essential oil. The universal cleaner, which comes with a wonderful, heavy duty aluminum spray cannister, is great on hard surfaces such as granite, marble, tile, wood, and stainless steel.
Due to a recent media request for information and video content, Chris spent much of this past Thursday in front of a video camera, shooting short segments about cleaning and maintaining a well-run, healthy home. While some of the shoot took place here in our gardens, much of it took place at the Hamptons Designer Showhouse, shown above. (Yeah, I WISH I had that kitchen too.)  I’m looking forward to seeing the completed videos, and will post them when they’re up. Exciting!
Butlers Brand has launched its website with online ordering capabilities and has so far debuted the product locally. If you’re visiting, it’s available at Fork & Rosethe Southampton Chamber of Commerce Farmer’s Market, and here at A Butler’s Manor.
picture of high end bathroom at Designer Showhouse featuring freestanding tub
Coastal Living Showhouse, Junior Master Bath
Speaking of showhouses! With all the usual activities that people visit the Hamptons for in the summer, this is one that might get overlooked since it’s an indoor activity. (Perfect for that odd overcast day!) For those of us who would love to take a peek into some of the estates here and see how the other half live, a few hours spent wandering through the rooms of a showhouse is about as close as you can come without an invitation to cocktails behind the hedges. And this year there are two showhouses to drool over, both located around Sag Harbor.
The annual Hamptons Designer Showhouse, which benefits Southampton Hospital, features a cadre of talented designers and decorators who each take a room or a space and transform it. (It is now all the cleaner for having the Butlers Brand crew visit it.)
The second, which we had an opportunity to sneak off and see the other (rainy) day, is sponsored by Coastal Living Magazine. Unlike the Designer Showhouse, Coastal Living Showhouse’s team has coordinated their decorating efforts under one designer to produce a more harmonious finished product that looks all of a piece. (Theme, of course, is beach house.) One of the takeaways? Wallpaper is back in vogue…
Large, bright, pale yellow bedroom with white and yellow furnishings at designer showhouse
Coastal Living Showhouse, Master Bedroom

 

kitchen with large island and teal colored tile throughout at designer showhouse
Coastal Living Showhouse, Kitchen

Meanwhile back at the ranch… Tomatoes, cucumbers, eggplant, Italian peppers and rhubarb are in full swing in the vegetable garden, so I’m making much use of all of them when planning menus. Our neighbor across the street has taken to putting up a small table of his excess produce with a little sign inviting people to take some…free…but take only what you need. Sweet!

Are you ready for a getaway that will leave your soul refreshed? Join us at Southampton’s #1-ranked bed and breakfast and let us pamper you!