How Not to Hate the Hamptons: Insider's Guide to Solving Every Hassle

7:00 AM 6/18/2016

by Beth Landman

The industry's most demanding convene on the best-worst place to summer, duking it out over dinner reservations, seaplanes and SoulCycle.

Courtesy of Douglas Elliman Real Estate; Jason Penney/WORDHAMPTON PUBLIC RELATIONS INC.

(Pictured: Susan Lucci’s 10,622-square-foot Quogue home; Lamb chop and seared sea scallops from new Montauk draw Arbor)

For decades, the East End of Long Island, with its stunning beaches and awe-inspiring light, attracted artists from Jackson Pollock to Andy Warhol before becoming a retreat for Hollywood. Then came the epic traffic and crowding that accompanied industry popularity. In 2015, elite enclaves such as East Hampton decided it'd had enough: After banning Uber and imposing curfews on planes coming in and out of the airport, town authorities put the kibosh on live music at Montauk's hipster-attracting haunts and in May instituted a new law requiring anyone renting a house from Wainscott to Montauk to register the property.

The law gives agents the right to inspect those houses, limits short-term rentals on a home to twice within six months (bye-bye, Airbnb) and forbids anyone who doesn't register from advertising online. "People don't want to end up like the Jersey Shore," says Douglas Elliman CEO Dottie Herman.

That means thumbs-down for rowdies and thumbs-up for regulars like Hugh Jackman, whose family frequents and engages with the community ("not like most kids, who are on their tablets during a meal," says an observer) at establishments like Sag Harbor's kid-friendly LT Burger. Or Sagaponack's Old Stove Pub devotee Jimmy Fallon, who pops in to entertain residents at the piano ("I like the spanakopita," he adds). But even knowing how to blend in can't subvert all of the Hamptons' hassles.

Thirty ways to solve conundrums that even can confound insiders:

  • Getting There

    Courtesy of StndAIR

    (Pictured: A StndAIR seaplane)

    HAMPTONS HASSLE: Word is that efforts to expand the one two-lane highway, 27, that runs through the towns and launch a high-speed train have been thwarted by officials to discourage more visitors.

    THE SOLUTION: Dispatchers keep drivers clear of bottlenecks on, yes, the bus from New York City. Matthew Broderick has taken both The Hamptons Luxury Liner and The Hampton Ambassador, both of which come equipped with films, Wi-Fi and refreshments. Cellphones are verboten, but as you might be seated next to Sarah Jessica Parker or Mel Brooks, you shouldn't be at a loss for conversation. "I like to take the Sunday night bus after a show," says Broderick, who is starring in Shining City at New York City's Irish Repertory Theatre, "because it's pretty quiet, but if you have to head out on a Friday, leave before 11 a.m."

    Flight options, which take from 35 to 45 minutes, include seaplanes, such as Andre Balazs' StndAIR ("I like Andre's seaplanes because they're newer than some of the others," says Russell Simmons). "I live near water, so I can take my shoes off on 23rd Street and land in my backyard," says Balazs. Blade allows clients to book a helicopter or seaplane (flights start at $495) or charter a flight at a nonscheduled time and crowdsource on their own. The service, which has been used by Christie Brinkley, Ryan Seacrest, Nick and Joe Jonas and Republic Records Group president Charlie Walk, includes four lounges around the city, where attendants clad in Alice & Trixie uniforms serve Whispering Angel rosé before takeoff. Incoming flights land in Southampton, Sag Harbor, Montauk or East Hampton, where airport director Jemille Charlton has seen Colin Powell, Jay Z and Beyonce, and Bon Jovi: "Anyone who has the money and doesn't want to sit in traffic, from Spielberg to the Clintons, is flying."

  • Staying There

    HAMPTONS HASSLE: Of course, there are no major hotels on the East End except Montauk's Gurney's, which counts Ralph Lauren and Robert De Niro as neighbors. Currently undergoing a massive renovation, the grand oceanfront resort is unveiling 12 new beachfront condos that run from $4 million to $12 million, four of which have been purchased.

    THE SOLUTION: There are many high-end properties available for two to four weeks, according to Rosehip Partners real estate associate Diane Shifman: "For the more private luxury experience of renting a house, expect to pay from $15,000 to upward of $50,000 per week, but you can get your own pool and tennis court." Jason Alexander just rented a house in East Hampton for July for $45,000, and P. Diddy is making his East Hampton home in Northwest Woods available for $200,000 for the season. Sandcastle Mansion — an 11½-acre Bridgehampton house on Halsey Lane with a bowling alley and rock-climbing wall where Jay Z and Beyonce filmed a video — is available for $1 million for July. Or check out new or tried-and-true well-appointed bed-and-breakfasts known to Hamptons cognoscenti.

    Art House
    Two artists have converted their striking home in the Springs, where Pollock lived, to a retreat with a 66-foot lap pool and hot tub, all 500 feet from Gardiner's Bay; $795 to $1,495,

    Baron's Cove
    Opened last season, this hotel is in central Sag Harbor and has a heated saltwater pool and outdoor bar scene; $699 to $1,149,

    Inn at Windmill Lane
    A half-mile from the beach in Amagansett, the inn includes a four-bedroom estate house. Beds are Duxiana, linens are Matouk; $990 to $2,100,

    Mill House Inn
    Suites are beautifully appointed at this central East Hampton outpost; refrigerators are stocked with homemade dog food. Human breakfasts with brioche French toast and lobster frittatas are worth the visit, and fresh pressed juices are available 24/7; $950 to $1,850,

    White Fences Inn
    Owner Liz Brodar cooks the three-course breakfast at this new five-room charmer with a pool. Morning yoga is offered on the lawn; $695 to $895,


  • Prepping the Estate

    HAMPTONS HASSLE: With no long-term loyalty among seasonal staff, the race is on to lure with cash over the next two months. "People try to steal staff all the time; I've seen them proposition chefs and housekeepers at dinner parties right under a host's nose," says Melissa Psitos of Lily Pond Services, which provides domestic staff for high-net-worth clients in entertainment and finance.

    THE SOLUTION: "You should have hired your summer staff at least a month in advance of your move-in date," says Psitos, "but we are equipped in high season to fill last-minute requests" that come with background checks, a week trial period and a 60-day guarantee (cost is 15 percent of the hires' annual yearly gross salary). John Mahdessian, boyfriend to one of the Real Housewives, owns Madame Paulette, which preps the houses of the rich and famous, including real estate mogul Aby Rosen. Owners and renters enter a spotless house with upholstery treated to spurn red wine spills. "We want to make sure renters get their security deposits back," he says (about $250 per sofa). Linda Rothschild unpacks and sets up everything from phone systems to linen closets and kitchens for such clients as Heidi Klum, Kyle MacLachlan and Christy Turlington.


  • Dining Out

    Francesco Tonelli/Courtesy of Subject

    (Pictured: The just-opened Jean-Georges hotspot occupies the restaurant space at historic Bridgehampton hotel Topping Rose House)

    HAMPTONS HASSLE: At revered go-tos like Nick & Toni's, where the floor show is even more enticing than the fresh veggies (frequent patrons include Spielberg, Uma Thurman and Jack Nicholson, and Lorne Michaels has played host to Mick Jagger), trying to call for a reservation if you're not a die-hard regular is a daunting process.

    THE SOLUTION: Nick & Toni's owner Mark Smith suggests that "you call 10 days ahead or use the app Resy or try for a weeknight. You can probably score a table." But if that doesn't work, try these new, lesser-known, or equally tried-and-true spots:

    Marc Rowan has taken over the former Ciao in Montauk and transformed it into a lush setting with a Mediterranean menu and circular outdoor bar. 240 Fort Pond Road

    Having breakfast at this healthy East Hampton cafe provides red carpet-worthy people watching. Steven Spielberg, Bill Clinton, Alec Baldwin, Hugh Jackman, Brett Ratner and Kate Hudson are regulars (Clinton celebrates his birthday there every August). “If I venture out still in my pajamas, I would hit John Papas [the East Hampton town diner], but if I get dressed, it's Babette’s,’’ says Jason Weinberg. “I work my way through the menu as each meal is better than the last.’’ Insiders know that dinner is just as yummy and the candlelit room is less of a scene at night. 66 Newtown Ln.

    Bay Kitchen Bar
    Situated on Three Mile Harbor, this East Hampton spot that serves acclaimed local fare is co-owned by chef Eric Miller and Richard Silver, husband of M.T. Carney, former president of marketing at Walt Disney Studios Worldwide. 39 Gann Rd.

    Stars let their hair down at this Sag Harbor playground for frozen yogurt lovers, which has organic and vegan options along with every topping imaginable. Paul McCartney began dancing to a Beatles song as he helped himself to a healthy sundae, and the Kardashians shot several segments here. 125 Main St.

    Cafe de la Musique
    Fresh off The Rolling Stone's South American tour, where he threw the band's after-show parties, restaurateur and nightlife impresario Jeffrey Jah has opened a Brazilian restaurant in East Hampton. 44 Three Mile Harbor Road

    Dopo La Spiaggia
    This Sag Harbor restaurant premiered earlier in June in the space that was Tutto Il Giorno, a favorite of Keith Richards, Calvin Klein and SJP. The chef, Maurizio Marfoglia, and decor are the same, but Marfoglia has split from partner and daughter of Donna Karan, Gabby Karan, and introduced new Northern Italian dishes. 6 Bay St.

    Golden Pear
    The cognoscenti flock to this café, which has branches in almost every town. Stop in for organic oatmeal or burritos in the morning, and homemade soup and salad later in the day. 99 Main St., Southampton; 111 Main St., Sag Harbor; 34 Newtown Ln., East Hampton; 2426 Montauk Hwy., Bridgehampton.

    Zack Erdem, who morphed the once-lackluster 75 Main in Southampton into a buzzy scene, has opened a large Japanese dining room and lounge up the street in the former Nello space. 136 Main St.

    Jean-Georges at Topping Rose
    In the first two weeks, Matt Lauer, Jonathan Tisch, Richard Meier and Eric Ripert were checking out the restaurant first run by Tom Colicchio and giving it a thumbs-up. Jean-Georges Vongerichten is using the property's acre of farmland to grow vegetables and installing a rotisserie on the outdoor veranda. "The food is delicious and inspired, and I love the terrace," says Ripert.

    If you’re hankering for a Mediterranean meal and good people watching, this hopping East Hampton branch of the popular Italian brand is just up the street from Nick and Toni’s and less of a struggle to get into. You may well see regulars Alec Baldwin, Paul McCartney and Katie Holmes. 104 N Main St.

    Service Station
    Shane Dyckman, who taught surfing to Madonna's son Rocco as well as Brooke Shields, has partnered with restaurateur Michael Gluckman in the new casual comfort food spot in East Hampton. The singer already has asked for a quiet table in the back. 100 Montauk Highway

    Sotto Sopra
    A cousin of Linda, Rose Evangelista presides over this Amagansett trattoria with a wood-burning oven, which attracts Leonardo DiCaprio, Scott Rudin and John Slattery. Bill and Hillary Clinton popped in three times in one week. 231 Main St.

  • Working Out

    HAMPTONS HASSLE: Sessions are so in-demand at Barry's Bootcamp, Brownings Fitness, SoulCycle and Flywheel that the latter two charge double ($80) just to reserve a space.

    THE SOLUTION: Last season, SoulCycle converted an old Montauk movie theater to a studio with 67 bikes, so you might get a seat there. Otherwise, book early: Alec Baldwin, Ian Schrager and Equinox CEO (and owner) Harvey Spevak are regular riders at SoulCycle (, and Katie Couric, Jessica Alba and Sean Avery are part of the Flywheel flock ( Where else:

    Elements Fitness Studio
    East Hampton's studio, which draws Kirsten Dunst, has moved into a larger space, adding hybrid barre and high-intensity interval classes.

    Hamptons Hot Yoga
    "Nights can be toxic, so I take the 7:30 a.m. flow class and sometimes the 9:30, too," says Simmons. "When you come out, you feel like heaven, and I can put both feet behind my head."

    Tracy Anderson
    Gwyneth Paltrow partnered with Anderson to open her East Hampton studio in 2015. 903 Montauk Highway

    Balazs likes to hike in Shelter Island's Mashashimuet Park. "It's a spectacular preserve for being contemplative," he notes. SNL's Colin Jost hits Shadmoor State Park near his new Montauk home. "I'm guessing people drive past it without stopping," he says. "You see weird World War II bunkers, but you can walk along the bluffs that look down toward Ditch Plains. It's the rare spectacular view that requires zero athleticism."

  • And the Real Estate Shuffle Goes On...

    Courtesy of Douglas Elliman Real Estate

    (Pictured: Seen in the film Joy, Susan Lucci’s 10,622-square-foot Quogue home is on the market for $19.99 million.)

    As prices escalate from $1,000 per square foot to $1,500 because of new FEMA laws forcing oceanfront construction to be built at a higher elevation (Malibu averages $2,300 PSF, but the lots are much smaller), even well-heeled buyers like Hugh Jackman are getting pushed out to more remote areas of East Hampton, says Saunders broker Edward Buehl: "Everything is trading higher, but the Northwest Woods still has a lot of value. It's quiet and peaceful, and for an extra 10-minute drive, you get more land." Higher prices are tempting sellers to add churn to the turnover:

    WHO JUST BOUGHT: In April, David Geffen bought a house on 2 acres for $70 million at 199 Lily Pond Lane (same street as Martha Stewart and Allen Grubman) that was owned by designer Josephine Chaus. Colin Jost acquired a $2.1 million 2,600-square-foot fixer-upper with ocean views and a pool at 26 Beach St. in Montauk. And there is scuttlebutt that Jennifer Lawrence, who was in the Hamptons water-skiing with Amy Schumer last summer, is looking for a house.

    WHO'S SELLING: Richard Gere is asking $36.5 million — down from an overestimated $65 million — for Strongheart Manor, his 6.3-acre North Haven estate with a basketball court. John McEnroe's house with 2 waterfront acres at 11 Squabble Lane in Southampton (Howard Stern, Calvin Klein and Brooke Shields are neighbors) is up for sale via Sotheby's for $14.5 million. McEnroe and his wife, singer Patty Smyth, own several homes, and reportedly this is the only one that has a tennis court. Susan Lucci's 10,622-square-foot Quogue home, Four Winds, which was seen in Joy, hit the market with listings broker Enzo Morabito for $19.99 million. George Stephanopoulos and Ali Wentworth put their 4,800-square-foot shingled farmhouse in Southampton up for sale at Sotheby's for $6.995 million, while Bay Street Theater board member Joy Behar is selling her 4,000-square-foot East Hampton house on Roberts Lane for $3.8 million. She's shopping for another.

  • Hollywood's Little Black Book

    Uber may be banned, but without Main Street Drivers, "getting from East Hampton to Bridgehampton in the summer can ruin your life," says Matthew Broderick.

    For sable lashes you can swim with, go with Southampton's Karina Freedman, who tends to the eyes of Bette Midler and Susan Sarandon.

    New York hair guru Paul Labrecque has an outcall service in the Hamptons, offering hair styling, color, massages and body scrubs made with organic ingredients, all in the privacy of your home or hotel.

    John Priest has whipped plenty of models into shape, but his focus on alignment and mobility also is ideal for people with injuries.

    P. Diddy, Beyonce and Vera Wang all are clients of The Dog Store in Wainscott, where grooming is done on tables in the sunlight. 631-527-5757

    This agency offers Michelin-starred cooks who do vegetarian to Sri Lankan.

    From high-tech beauty to bodywork, A Studio in East Hampton counts Rihanna and Gwyneth Paltrow among its clientele.

    Dr. Cindy Bressler, who tends to Donna Karan's pets, among others, and has dealt with a dog scarfing down pot brownies, makes house calls.

  • Foodie-Event Fight!

    Hamptons foodies are in a tizzy because the summer's two biggest culinary events are colliding. The James Beard Foundation's Chefs & Champagne, which is celebrating its 26th anniversary, is held at Wolffer Estate Vineyards in Sagaponack (tickets from $200). This year, it honors chef John Besh and features such stellar chefs as Matthew Kenney and Anita Lo.

    A Taste of Two Forks launched six years ago and has been encroaching on the Beard affair's turf. This summer, it will be hosted by Iron Chef Alex Guarnaschelli and held at the 30-acre oceanfront Fairview Farm in Bridgehampton. More than 40 chefs will be cooking (tickets from $185). Originally scheduled for July 9, the event, which expects to draw 1,500 people, suddenly was moved to go head-to-head with Chefs & Champagne on July 23. Host Guarnaschelli, who has her restaurant Butter at Chefs & Champagne, will have to run back and forth: "These are two of the most anticipated events of the summer in the Hamptons. The events are close to each other, which makes it easy to be at both. It's a win-win!"