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Check out changes at East End hotels this summer

East End hotels, such as Gurney's Montauk Resort,

East End hotels, such as Gurney's Montauk Resort, have changed how they do business due to the outbreak of the coronavirus. Credit: Barry Sloan

When guests check into the Baker House 1650 in East Hampton this summer, they will be greeted, from a distance, by staff members wearing masks made of the same William Morris fabric that covers the custom furniture throughout the historic hotel. Masks with “fabulous florals that match the chairs,” says representative Michael Snell, allow guests to feel both safe and spoiled while vacationing during the ongoing pandemic.

 Stylish mask-wearing is one of many new policies and procedures that East End hotels have implemented. These are necessary not only to safeguard everyone’s health, says Atit Jariwala, the owner of the new Marram resort in Montauk, but to “help guests to unplug, reconnect, and focus on life’s simple pleasures.” Reassurance often begins before check-in. At Daunt’s Albatross in Montauk, guests are texted a form where they are asked to state that they don’t have any COVID-19 symptoms. Pre-arrival, rooms are thoroughly cleaned and then disinfected with powerful UVC lights. Innkeepers at the South Harbor Inn in Southold (southharborinn.com) consult with every guest before check-in to determine preferences regarding service and interaction levels. Guests can choose to have their rooms cleaned daily with the hospital- grade disinfectant that is used before they arrive, or they can choose to forgo housekeeping altogether if that makes them more comfortable. Housekeepers at the Preston House and Hotel (theprestonhouseandhotel) collect linens, towels, and comforters from each room and place them in a bag to be delivered to the laundry to avoid the spread of germs from one room to another.    

Not only will rooms be spotlessly clean, but some will come with enhanced amenities. At Gurney’s Montauk Resort and its Star Island Resort and Marina, in-room programming now includes streaming workouts, expanded in-room dining menus, curated playlists, and kids’ in-room activities to supplement socially distanced beach activities. The Baker House has packed away hard-to-clean coffee table books and replaced them with a fresh selection of poly-bagged magazines and guidebooks for every guest to enjoy and take away. One-time-use bags for TV remotes ensure virus-free channel surfing. Recognizing that takeout meals will be a part of vacationing this summer, the owners of American Beech in Greenport and its sister hotel Aqua in Aquebogue have installed tables and chairs in all rooms, along with china and cutlery, for comfortable and elegant meals during COVID-19.

Across the region, innkeepers are figuring out safe ways to meet customers’ expectations for fine dining. Guests at the Hampton Maid (hamptonmaid.com) can enjoy the Maid’s legendary breakfast, dropped off at their door with a knock. Gurney’s kitchens will prepare lobster bakes including biscuits, clams, corn, and steamed potatoes to be delivered to the room or eaten elsewhere on the large property. Claude’s, the restaurant at the Southampton Inn (southamptoninn.com), has become “the great American picnic place,” according to owner Dede Gotthelf, with picnic basket takeout that can be carried to outdoor seating areas throughout the expansive property or to a table in the grand ballroom. Recognizing that guests paying upward of $400 a night for a beautiful room might not want to dine on an aluminum tray, White Fences Inn owner Liz Brodar will set a table in one of four private dining areas, and plate your meal for you if you’d like. She is also working with a local chef to provide optional dinners served at the inn four nights a week, to create the experience of restaurant dining without the crowds.

Hand sanitizer dispensers have become part of every hotel’s décor. Gloved, masked, and bootied cleaners scrub high-touch areas every 15 minutes to an hour. And social distancing is obvious everywhere. Hampton Maid co-owner Tara Curry spaces guests apart with empty rooms in between. Twelve acres of gardens surrounding the Hampton Bays compound ensure that there is plenty of room to breathe. In Greenport, the 16-room Menhaden has an expansive private roof deck that easily accommodates all guests with space to spare. Send a text message to the front desk and a gloved staff member will deliver a glass of wine. Lounges have been moved from the pool area of the Southampton Inn and arranged in groups across the grounds. Only 10 people at a time will be permitted in the pool. “We are trying to create a sanctuary of respite for our guests where they can relax and enjoy the summer in an environment that is not only contact-free (yes, you can even access your guest room with your phone) but also, we are now reservations only,” says Erik Warner, owner of Greenport’s Sound View. “Every aspect of the property, from pool chairs to beach loungers need to be reserved so our guests know there will never be crowding or unexpected moments with large groups of people.”

Because East End towns are limiting parking to residents, beach access via hotel is a significant perk. Gurney’s is situated right on the beach. Daunt’s Albatross is a quick stroll to the water. At the Southampton Inn, a polka-dotted shuttle runs daily to and from Cooper’s Beach, one passenger per row, masks required. Gotthelf notes that the beaches have never been less crowded. For a guaranteed crowd-less experience, the 18-room Aqua has a private beach, open only to guests.

While there have been many cancellations and bookings have been slow, hoteliers are optimistic and eager. International visitors are staying away, but that just means more rooms for Long Islanders and tristate area residents eager for a break within driving distance of home. Gotthelf envisions a different Hamptons experience in the coming months. “It’s not about rowdy parties. It’s about the air, the light, the beach, the birds, the families. That’s what we are able to offer beautifully this year.”

Bargains are usually hard to come by on the East End during the summer, but this summer is an unusual one. Spots that are offering deals to entice COVID-shy guests include:

American Beech and Aqua (americanbeech.com) give a 10% discount for stays of three days or longer.

Baker House 1650 (bakerhouse1650.com) is encouraging longer stays by offering a 7th night at 50% off when you stay for six nights. Valid from 6/25-9/7/20.

Gurney’s Montauk Resort and Gurney’s Star Island Resort (gurneysresorts.com) have a 'Stay Longer, Save More' offer. From June 1, 2020 to Sept. 3, 2020, stay four nights and get 15% off. After Sept. 3, 2020 stay three nights, get 20% off.

Marram (marrammontauk.com), a new boutique resort in Montauk, is offering a “Save 4 & Save” package for the summer, where if you stay four or more nights, you save 20% off their 'Most Flexible Rate' for all available dates in 2020.

The Menhaden (themenhaden.com) is offering 20% off midweek room rates. Planners can enjoy 15% off the room rate when booking 60 days in advance. For those looking for a longer stay, book four nights and receive the fifth night free.

Family–friendly Montauk Manor (montaukmanor.com) has two offers: Stay 3 nights and pay for only two, or pay 7 nights and pay for only 6.

Sound View has introduced a new extended stay offer. Guest booking a week or more can save up to 20%.

Until June 30, the South Harbor Inn (southharborinn.com) has a “buy now, stay later” deal. Purchase hotel “bonds” at $100 and use them later at a value of $150. They are also offering discounts for longer stays, with 25% off on reservations of four nights or more.

At the White Fences Inn (whitefenceswatermill.com), Tuesdays are golden. Book a three-night stay that includes a Tuesday night, and Tuesday is 50% off. Offer valid at time of booking. Use code Summer20.

Featured Hotels:

Baker House 1650, 181 Main St., East Hampton, 631-324-4081, bakerhouse1650.com

Marram 21 Oceanview Terrace, Montauk, 631-668-2050, marrammontauk.com

Daunt’s Albatross 44 S. Elmwood Ave., Montauk, 631-668-2729, dauntsalbatross.com

South Harbor Inn 565 S. Harbor Rd., Southold, 646-552-5047, southharborinn.com

Preston House and Hotel 428 E. Main St., 631-775-1500, theprestonhouseandhotel.com

Gurney’s Montauk Resort 290 Old Montauk Hwy., Montauk, 631-668-2345

Gurney’s Star Island Resort 32 Star Island Rd., Montauk, 631-668-3100, (gurneysresorts.com)

American Beech 300 Main St., Greenport, 631-477-5939

Aqua 15 Bay Avenue, Aquabogue, 631-722-3212, americanbeech.com

Hampton Maid 259 E. Montauk Hwy., Hampton Bays, 631-728-4166, hamptonmaid.com

The Menhaden 207 Front St., Greenport, 631-333-2777, themenhaden.com

Southampton Inn, 91 Hill St., Southampton, 631-283-6500, southhamptoninn.com

White Fences Inn, 371 Montauk Hwy., Water Mill, 631-500-9013

Sound View, 58775 County Rd. 48, Greenport, 631-477-1910, soundviewgreenport.com

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