11965 Travel Guide
Want to know what it's like spending Labor Day weekend over on Andre Balazs' $345/night waterfront Hamptons retreat, Sunset Beach Hotel? Just ask UK tabloid darling Pippa Middleton, who spent Saturday night there, dining at the hotel restaurant and playing ping pong with Balazs himself.
Why, yes, it is! La Maison Blanche, that sleepy 8-room inn with big-buck Hamptons star power (remember that pé tanque court last summer? yeah, that was them), is in the midst of installing a new pool in the backyard. The hotel in fact re-opened today for the start of the winter season (with rates as low as $170), and are planning to have the pool finished "well before the season begins."
Well, this is New York, so as long as there's a bit of sun and some 60-degree weather, the short shorts will be coming out.
But the pool's not all. To really make guests feel special, co-owner Alistair MacLean will also be introducing exclusive pool membership cards that will function more like a souvenir than anything else, but will look nice next to the Trump card you obviously carry around at all times in your wallet. Read on to find out what luxuries await in the Hamptons this summer—and whether or not you qualify...
Which of the following sounds more appealing: hours by car on the Long Island Expressway, followed by a $12 ferry ride from North Haven to Shelter Island? Or, as convenience would have it, a chartered seaplane that flies you directly from NYC's Chelsea to Crescent Beach? Sound Aircraft, a Long Island-based airplane and helicopter service company, is currently hoping you choose the latter.
What's that, you're afraid to part with so much money?Come on, it's a seaplane! Didn't you ever watch Raiders Of the Lost Ark?
Next month, a new hotel pops up on Shelter Island, the sleepy eastern Long Island town which, in addition to Andre Balazs' less-publicized resort, Sunset Beach, also happens to be the home of actress Julie Kavner, aka the voice of Marge Simpson. La Maison Blanche, which is French for—you guessed it—'the white house,' is an unpretentious eight-room structure that sits right next to Crescent Beach.
New Yorkers who are considering a weekend getaway might want to look into La Maison Blanche, which offers an on-site bakery, complimentary bicycles, use of the hotel's iPad, and, just to round things off, a Pétanque court. Pétanque, which resembles bocce ball, has become a unique part of Shelter Island's identity since Veuve Clicquot began hosting their annual Pétanque Tournament right on Sunset Beach. It seems guests at La Maison Blanche will now be able to work on their form before the big day, which usually falls around Bastille Day.
Andre Balazs's Sunset Beach on Long Island will open for the season on May 15th. But there are two things you should know before we continue: number one, Andre Balazs has a property on Long Island (Shelter Island, actually). Number two: not many of us are aware of this because, as we like to say, it's kinda his deep, dark secret. Last we checked, we had some outdated rooms, dirty linens, and decidely un-Balazs-y decor.
But who knows: that was two seasons ago in '07, and maybe the place has been spiffed up since then.
Our point here is that the place with its 20 rooms will open up on Friday, and rates are slightly lower than last year's seasonal rates. This year, you can get a room at $220 during the week and $420 on the weekends; last year's were $245 on weeknights and $420 on weekends.
Also, this year the hotel's restaurant is serving boatside from Sunset Beach's very own dingy. And oh, the wine is already on ice for you: Andre's launched his private-label Rose for the season. Yes, really.
[Photo: Lucifer Bumps]
Sure, it was a long weekend, full of hurricanes and scandals and blue skies...and journos checking out the allegedly French-style digs on Shelter Island at Andre Balazs's Sunset Beach.
We're pleased to hear that the hotel's food is to die for -- a rave review of the Sunset Beach menu recommends the bouillabaisse and the moule frites, two classic French dishes, bien sur. The writer notes, "With a little help from the Frenchies at the next table, you could almost make believe you're in St. Tropez admiring the Mediterranean."
Interestingly, the writer failed to mention the hotelier's Reserve Sunset Beach Rose.
The terrific food is a plus, but the rooms apparently leave much to be desired.
Sunset Beach on Shelter Island is what we have called Andre Balazs' dark secret because the rooms and amenities are less than what we are used to when it comes to AB Hotels. Hello, couch stains and early 1990s TVs! Not to mention dingy kitchenettes.
Nevertheless the place is reopening on May 16th (it's a seasonal joint) and rooms start at $245 a night for a midweek stay. The rates jump up to about $420 for a weekend stay.
We haven't made up our minds if this is a good rate or not. On the one hand, you do have a kitchenette plus a private sundeck with a seaview and complimentary wireless. And you are on the beach.
On the other hand, your accommodations may look like this. So you may not be in the same caliber of lodgings as your other tony Hampton friends.
On a sidenote, if you're in need of a summer job, Sunset Beach is hiring some people now.
Looks like asking you folks to join the HotelChatter Flickr Pool yesterday did us some good. We got a bunch of new photos which we plan on posting this week, starting with this set from Flickr member Lucifer Bumps. So c'mon in and get your hotel photos published.
When we think of André Balazs our first thought tends to be uber-successful hotelier (Uma Thurman comes in a close second.) The QT and Mercer in New York, The Standard in Miami, all get high marks from the Hotel Mavens, and Miami's Raleigh Hotel is one of our personal favorites--all these hotels are AB Hotels.
But André has another little-known property out on New York's Shelter Island called Sunset Beach and judging from these pictures, it's clear why Sunset Beach isn't promoted as heavily as the other AB properties, it isn't in their league. We have come to expect a certain level of excellence from AB Hotels, but according to our tipsters, that level is missing at Sunset Beach.
More pictures after the jump.