Sunday, April 21, 2019

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.

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.

Dina 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.

I can't wait for you to meet them! Join us at our Southampton Bed and Breakfast and see what we mean!

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Our top 6 reasons to visit the Hamptons out of season


Early Spring is an excellent time to come to the Hamptons as a relaxing getaway. Here are our favorite reasons why:

1) If you enjoy seeing beyond the hedges at the big estates in the Hamptons, this is your chance. Most of those privet hedges are deciduous... which means that now they’re bare and won’t leaf in again in full until sometime in May. And chances are you’ll spot a few deer grazing on those estate lawns where no one is around to chase them away.

2)The trendy seasonal restaurants haven’t come to town yet, but our award-winning year-round places such as Plaza Cafe, Bistro Ete, 1770 House and Pierre's are open and won’t be crowded. (Now's your chance to get into Nick & Toni’s.)

3) Nope, there’s not a whole lot of nightlife, though you can catch a set at Steven Talkhouse or a concert at Bay Street Theater on weekends. And while the summer shops are still polishing their pop-up retail spots for the Memorial Day reopening, you can still check out some of our best, such as Hildreth’s, Rumrunner, Topiare and Sylvester’s for great household finds, or D.J Hart, J. McLaughlin, Chico's, Tenet or Jildor for clothing. Or, even better, check out off-season prices on consignment couture at Collette’s.

4) Bundle up and take a long walk on an empty beach, and pick out your fantasy beach house. Picture the parties you're going to have in it in the summer.

5) Oh, and wine! Nearly all of the wineries on both forks are open every day, all year. Without the crowds, it feels like you're having your own private tasting.

6) Most of all, the quiet season is a time to renew, recharge your batteries and most of all, reconnect. Has it been way too long since you've had the chance to look into each other’s eyes and really mean that “I love you?”

Now's your chance! And to sweeten the deal, we're offering a Spring Fling special: Stay for any two nights in April 2019 and we'll take 20% off your room rate! Find the details on our website here!

At A Butler’s Manor, we look forward to being your restorative getaway. Call to make your reservation today!

Saturday, January 26, 2019

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

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!


Monday, May 28, 2018

SSHH (second in a series): All Buildings great and small

Settled in 1653, Incorporated in 2005 - in self defense.
No, this isn't a post about the massive summer "cottages" here in the Hamptons (although that in itself is always a great tour). It's about a few more of the places to be found on our Selfie Scavenger Hunt of the Hamptons (SSHH) that was the subject of my last blog. SSHH is our tour game highlights some of the cool and interesting places off the beaten path that aren't going to be found on some gossipy click-bait article titled "10 Top Things To See In The Hamptons (That You Can Then Brag About)."

Today we're in and around the greater Bridgehampton area. 

So to begin, here's irony for you: The village that contains the largest house in the Hamptons also features the smallest of schools. Tiny Sagaponack  and its neighboring hamlet Wainscott each boast operational one room schoolhouses.
Sagaponack School dates back to 1776, though its current building, housing 14 students in grades K-4 was built in 1885. Sagg School's earlier structure, constructed in the early 1800s was moved to Wainscott, where it still is in use for its 20 students in grades K-3.

Probably 90% of the school taxes for Sagaponack School (and a substantial portion of those higher grade schools it feeds into) are paid through the property taxes of this behemoth:

Yep, that's one house. The rough unpaved road is intentional.
Sagaponack School's original 500 square feet building is probably the equivalent of one guest bedroom in this 64,000 square foot mansion owned by junk bond billionaire Ira Rennert. Called Fair Field, it is one of the largest private houses in the country and sits on 68 acres of oceanfront property. In addition to the main house, there are several outbuildings, bringing the total of structures on the acreage to over 110,000 square feet.

A huge hue and cry was raised by neighbors when Rennert began building the complex. Though they were unsuccessful at halting the construction, the lawsuits did result in new, stricter restrictions on house size in Southampton Township...and to the incorporation of tiny Sagaponack as a separate village rather than just a "Hamplet" of Southampton Town.

(Perhaps as poetic justice for those appalled locals, a federal appeals court ordered Rennert to pay a $213 million judgment, upholding a lower court decision that found him guilty of looting money from one of his mining companies in order to fund the construction of Fair Field.)

Heading northwest from Sagaponack, past potato farms interspersed with horse properties, polo fields and a golf course, you may happen upon another house on a substantial plot of land that certainly doesn't look like any other house in the Hamptons. Maybe even the world:

This is called the Elliptical House, and yes, it is a residence. The house, barn, and dozens of oversized sculptures sit on the grounds of Novas Ark Project, the creation of the late artist Nova Mihai Popa. Situated on 95 acres and fronting an agricultural preserve, the property (though not the house) is often rented for large events and weddings. Chris and I call it "More Input, Stephanie," because we think it resembles the robot featured in the movie "Short Circuit." Short Circuit Need Input

Finally, as you enjoy the drive on Scuttlehole Road through the middle of the South Fork, keep your eyes peeled for buildings that may not look as though they belong here, but oh, they do:

These are potato barns, and they're purposely designed partway underground because they act as an enormous root cellar, keeping the potatoes naturally cool until they are shipped. Very occasionally you might spot a house that once began as a potato barn and was converted to a private residence. (Extra SSHH points if you do!) To me, potato barns are wonderful iconic structures, and as much part of the Hamptons charm as the villages that draw our visitors. 

So got your cellphone? Ready to explore? Come visit A Butler's Manor, Southampton's best boutique inn, and we'll help you see parts of the Hamptons that most people miss out on!

Thursday, May 24, 2018

SSHH...best kept secrets in the Hamptons!

Respite from too much shopping in East Hampton Village?
We get two main types of leisure (as opposed to business) visitors here at A Butler's Manor: those who live within about a 100 mile radius and return, often year after year, for a few days each summer, and those for whom a visit to the Hamptons checks off a bucket list item. Long ago, for these latter guests Chris and I compiled an itinerary to aid first-timers in maximizing their visit to our area. It remains popular and we go through several hundred copies each year.

We were on our winter sabbatical in California and attending a Jaguar car rally where you were tasked with navigating via landmarks (we won, by the way, yay!), when it occurred to me that it would be fun to go beyond the itinerary and offer folks who were so inclined an opportunity to discover some of the fun and funky corners of the Hamptons that make it special to us. And to do it in a way that created a personal photo album of the trip in the process.

So we created A Butler's Manor Selfie Scavenger Hunt of the Hamptons (hereafter SSHH). The idea is to find as many of the locations as you can, take a picture of yourself at each, hashtag it #abutlersmanor and post it on social media if you desire...but regardless, experience a broader view of the area than just Montauk Highway and our famous beaches.

Chris and Sydney were out and about in East Hampton last week, so Chris took one of our bowlers and stopped by some of the SSHH locations. Here's a small sampling of his trip that I'll title "Who's Who Who Was (or is) Here."

Chris is here!


I wrote about Jackson Pollock and the Pollock/Krasner House a few years back (read it here). Many people know that Jackson Pollock lived--and was killed in an automobile accident--in the Springs in East Hampton, but you may not know that he is buried here too (as is his wife Lee Krasner). Following his death, Green River Cemetery became famous as an artists and writers cemetery--many of the headstones are works of art in themselves.
Sydney at Jackson Pollock's Grave


LongHouse Reserve is a 16-acre sculpture garden founded by textile artist and collector Jack Lenor Larsen. Located in Northwest Woods, there are magnificent lawns and border gardens and a pond, all created with an eye to the display of contemporary sculpture. The Japanese-inspired main house is serene and in harmony with the surrounding gardens. It's open to the public for a small fee on Wednesday and Saturday afternoons, or by appointment.
LongHouse Reserve

Lion Gardiner was an English soldier who established the first English settlement in what would become the state of New York. Predating the 1648 founding of East Hampton, Gardiner purchased in 1639 an island off the coast of what is now the Springs and Montauk from the Montaukett Indian tribe. The King of England granted Lion Gardiner a Royal Patent "to possess the land forever," and until the end of the American Revolution, it was not connected with either New York or Connecticut but was an entirely separate and independent "plantation." Nearly 380 years later, Gardiners Island is still owned by his descendants, one of the larger private islands in the USA.
Lion Gardiner's Crypt, with recumbent effigy

So, does this whet your appetite to find some of the lesser-known corners of East Hampton? Come visit A Butler's Manor, our New York Bed and Breakfast, and we'll set you up with the goods!

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Early September fun!

As I write this, we're in between threatened thunderstorms (nothing compared to the folks anxiously watching Hurricane Irma's path through the Caribbean), but the weather report shows the skies clearing and we're on tap for a glorious weekend. And that's good because there's a lot on tap over this weekend!

Sag Harbor's Harborfest begins Saturday morning, September 9 and runs through Sunday. Described as the largest block party extending out over the water, Harborfest celebrates Sag Harbor's maritime and especially whaling history and incorporates an arts and crafts fair, games, food, history, and fun for the whole family. 

Further east, Montauk's Seafood Festival also begins on Saturday and runs through the weekend. Featuring local fish and shellfish, local wines and craft beer and live entertainment, it's billed as a great family friendly event.

And, closer to A Butler's Manor, Saturday also is the grand opening of Hank's Pumpkintown, which grows larger and larger each year with more attractions on the farm for the kids. (And for those of us who want to avoid the traffic that this spectacle entails, just ask--we've got a map that will get you around it.)


In spite of the pumpkins, it ain't fall quite yet! At a forecasted 72 degrees this weekend, after checking out the festivals above, the beach is looking mighty appealing...at A Butler's Manor, we've got your beach chair and beach bag ready to go. Book your visit to Southampton's top-rated boutique inn and spend some down time in the Hamptons!

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Holding onto history...and losing it

If you've been to our Southampton bed and breakfast before, chances are you've noticed the large meadow-like vacant lot to the north of us, on the other side of our car park. Perhaps we've told you, as part of the history of our house, that the lot, and the house standing on it, was owned by the last direct descendant of the Jagger family, who settled in Southampton in the mid-1600s. Originally tanners, the family eventually became farmers and at one point owned all the property in about a one mile radius of us. The house at 244 North Main that we call A Butler's Manor, built in 1860 by William Jagger, and it's our understanding that the house north of us at 276 North Main was built by his son. It appears on an 1894 Village Survey map that hangs in our upstairs hallway as belonging to J.M. Jagger.

When we moved here, we met and became friends with Glena Jagger, and Chris in particular spent quite a bit of time with her. One of my favorite memories is the time she stayed the night with us. She'd had surgery and the hospital wouldn't let her go home because no one lived with her, so she called us and asked to book a room. She refused to let us comp her, but she did permit us to drive her back up to her doctor in Riverhead the following day for post-op follow up. I thought it appropriate to offer her Goose Creek, our most historical room with its original wooden ceiling. Over breakfast the next morning, she told me that her grandparents had lived in the house until she was in high school. When she was small, she'd had scarlet fever (highly contagious) and her beloved older sister Elizabeth had moved to their grandparent's house for several weeks while Glena was quarantened at home. This had been the first time she had ever stayed a night in our house.
Goose Creek

Glena was a feisty little lady who had a degree in chemistry and had never married, who had been born in the house she lived in and intended to die in it. She had artifacts dating back to the early 1700's including ledgers from her tanner ancestors that documented the trade of goods and services between neighbors, in English pounds sterling that was the currency at the time--all of which was destined for the Southampton Historical Society. Her will stated her desire to divide up the proceeds of her estate between a number of beloved charitable organizations. I don't think she liked it, but did recognize that after her death her property would be sold and likely subdivided. That's just the way it works.

Glena died five years ago, and after a couple of acrimonious court cases (one brought by Chris) and planning board roadblocks, the three+ acre lot is to be subdivided into three one-acre parcels called the Jagger Estates, with a 6,000+/- square foot house to be built upon each. This week, the builder received approval to demolish Glena's house and begin clearing the property for development.

We watched on Wednesday as a house that had likely been many, many months in the building, that had withstood the Great Hurricane of 1938 without the slightest flooding, that had housed a woman from cradle to grave came down under the jaws of a bulldozer's claw in less than three hours.



Was it historical? Not historical enough. Was it architecturally significant? Only as it related to one woman's, and one family's long history in the village of Southampton. Was it worth salvaging? In practical terms, no. Too much remedial work involved even if the layout was desirable.

Still.

So today, as I look out my kitchen window at the blank where once I saw the brown siding of our neighbor's house, I think wistfully of Glena and her long life and rich family history. And wish the use of her family name as a development was more of a tribute to the longevity of that family line. And hope the new houses, when they are built, are in fact traditional in architecture, as proposed.

Though much updated and upgraded to meet the needs of our many guests, the Jagger family house of yesteryear still can be found in the bones of A Butler's Manor. and we take great pride in maintaining it. 

Come experience the melding of the modern and the historical at A Butler's Manor, Southampton's best boutique inn.