Whether you travel by Hampton Jitney or in your best friend's Sikorsky helicopter, it's time for that summertime pilgrimage to the Hamptons.
From year to year, you never quite know what to expect. Perhaps your favorite nightclub will be gone, or maybe your favorite restaurant will resurface as a fancy new outpost from Jeffrey Chodorow.
Hamptons social circles are equally fickle, as ever-changing dinner tables replace and upgrade that friend who lost his or her fortune and the man who got the newer, prettier wife just in time for the summer season.
Hampton Hotel Scene
For many years, the local hotel scene has catered to two demographics, namely, the 65-year-old couple and the 22-year-old, binge-drinking, trust-fund baby. The couples would usually inn-it at local weekend retreats like
that combines wicker furnishings, brass beds and hallucinogenic floral prints bad for Sunday hangovers.
Younger Hampton-hoppers prefer the simplistic comfort of hotels like
. Those three boutique hotels were better suited for party weekends than chic weekend retreats, but until this year were the only overnight option for nightlife-minded singles.
New to the Hamptons scene, although a bit of a drive out to Montauk, is the
. A sexy surf theme converts this former highway inn into a cozy beach cottage with top-notch eatery and super-cool deck lounge with sultry cocktail scene that's on of the summer's breakout hits.
The Food Scene
By day, the chicest place to eat is either at the beach or poolside soirée cooked-up by personal sushi or macrobiotic chefs. Afternoons meander from one Rosé-induced mixer to the next as the evening in and around East Hampton comes to life with a collection of be-seen eateries and restaurants.
prove an enduring summertime tradition for 2008. This legend of Main Street features a romantic white dining room of glowing candlelight, manipulated by star diners like Billy Joel, Denise Rich and Howard Stern. A wood-burning oven turns out gourmet American staples such as pork chops, rack of lamb and pasta dishes with delightful summer twists.
New to the Sag Harbor scene is
on Bay Street, adjacent to Donna Karan's Urban Zen Boutique.
Karan's daughter and son-in-law, Gaby and Gianpaolo DeFelice, are co-owners of the restaurant, and also had a hand in redecorating and design. A manicured garden separates the Italian eatery from Karan's signature summer shop.
Fans of Alison Becker will likely do a double take at her former space in Bridgehampton, which she vacated after last summer in lieu of a swankier address in East Hampton. Known as
, the restaurant is located in the uber-traditional hotel that's an equal mix of Martha Washington and Martha Stewart.
Those looking for more of a supper club vibe will need to start iPhone-stalking the new outpost of
by Jeffrey Chodorow. While we normally balk at hitting China Beach or even Asia de Cuba-chain eateries, this beach outpost is a much-needed elixir to the local dining scene.
The first walk of the season through East Hampton always yields new shop sightings. A fixture on Newton Lane for years,
chooses a neighboring paneled storefront à la Kensington High Street for his new Rugby label, a sexy spin of collegiate sportswear targeted for the Abercrombie and Fitch generation minus the half-naked guys.
Newton Lane is also home to two other men's-targeted clothing outlets, including a new outpost of
and designer James Perse.
Ladies need look no further than Main Street to see boutique changes since the 2007 season. Visitors will discover an expanded presence by
, with its generic-spin of haute couture and labels from Dior to Comme des Garcons.
Donna Karan returns to her
, nature-minded boutique and lifestyle brand offering island-chic Balinese furnishings, home décor, and women's accessories made of sustainable, recycled fabrics in a massive garden-theme space adjacent to her daughter's new Italian eatery.
I LOVE the Nightlife
Hampton nightlife is a bit 'now-you-see-them-now-you-don't' from year to year. Last year three nightclubs, all beach spin-offs of already-successful New York nightclubs, dominated the town.
This year, all-new
occupies the nightclub space formerly home to Stereo by the Shore and Tavern.
The new space goes more upscale than before as owner David Sarner of
creates a VIP den for beach residents that alternate between St. Tropez, Capri and the Hamptons.
While Star Room is now a part of history,
remains at the Capri-space known for it outdoor dance parties that virtually make the hotel uninhabitable to anyone willing to sleep.
The outdoor area got a much-need facelift over the winter season, as well as an updated bar and all-new private events area looking to draw swanky gift bag-minded parties throughout high season.
Loyal patrons of Stereo, who have a lot to mourn with the New York club's closing in mid-2008, need have no fear as Mike Satsky debuts the all-new
, located in East Hampton's former Resort.
The club, co-owned by promoter Unik Ernest, spins international lounge anthems in an indoor/outdoor space of sprawling bed-style lounges and private cabanas.
But the hottest nightclub so far for summer 2008 has been
, located for its second year in the nautical-chic club sprawl once home to Cain. The owners, who also run 1Oak and Marquee, have attracted the biggest celebrities for its weekend parties and primo guest list.
Michael Martin is the managing editor of JetSetReport.com -- a luxury travel and lifestyle guide based in Los Angeles and London. His work has appeared in In Style, Blackbook, Elle, U.K.'s Red magazine, ITV and BBC.