Where to Go In the Hamptons for Labor Day Weekend and Beyond

Amid the goings on in the Hamptons — summer 2023 edition — Gwyneth Paltrow brought Italy to Amagansett with the first-ever Gucci/Goop collaboration, while Andy Cohen hung everywhere from Ed Sheeran’s performance at Stephen Talkhouse to Jimmy Fallon’s house to the ocean. While Michael Rubin’s Fourth of July white party is undoubtedly the biggest private affair of the summer season, the action along the 37-mile stretch from Southampton to Montauk, beckoning with restaurants, shops, art galleries and museums, rages on long after you’ve retired all the summer whites in your wardrobe.

The Summer That Was …

From Friday, Sept. 1 to Monday, Sept. 4, soak up the final weekend of the 15th anniversary season of the Surf Lodge in Montauk. Think of this like an East Coast version of the legendary Pioneertown, California, saloon Pappy and Harriet’s, where you never know who will pop up and perform. This year, over the 15 weekends from Memorial Day to Labor Day, Mary J. Blige, Joe Jonas (as his DJ alter ego Cup of Joe and accompanied by Nick Jonas), The Kid LAROI, DJ Pee .Wee (Anderson .Paak), Aloe Blacc, Corrine Bailey Rae, Fisher, Zhu and many more all hit the Surf Lodge. Founder Jayma Cardoso works with renowned Las Vegas-based talent curator Zee “Queen of House” Zandi to secure some of the lineup. Others are booked from personal connections.

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Jayma Cardoso - Surf Lodge - Montauk - Portrait
Surf Lodge founder Jayma Cardoso.

In a blowout final bash on Sept. 3, DJ Cassidy, Shaggy and Wyclef team up with Malibu Rum for an “If You Like Pina Coladas” party.

Looking back on the decade and a half milestone, Cardoso, who previously owned New York City nightclubs Cain and GoldBar, and was a partner in Lavo, reminisces on the magic that has brought big-name musicians to perform at the small beach town hotel and bar/lounge, which holds only 200 people.

“My dream was to move here and open a small boutique hotel. I’m from Brazil and I would always go to Montauk—and it was the most similar to the vibe of where I came from,” she says. “The other hamlets, which are super beautiful, didn’t feel as raw,” she says. “We sat down with a bunch of different investors and lots of people thought it was either a terrible idea or super far away and nobody would ever go. We eventually found five people who believed in our crazy idea and the rest is history.”

Since 2008, this beach shack hotel, restaurant and lounge, with white washed walls and sun bleached floors has become quite popular. Cardoso recalls countless memorable moments, such as the time Jimmy Buffett jumped on stage with Willie Nelson; Courtney Love performed and then didn’t leave for a week; John Legend, on his piano, serenaded a crowd which included a pack of kayakers who gathered in the bay; Virgil Abloh rocked a DJ set; Solange Knowles rode a beach cruiser in a white sundress; Jessie J moved her set to the bar during a torrential downpour.

Surf Lodge has also become known as the place for celebrity brand activations and collaborations.

“How do we redesign the beach every season, and continue to make our guest experience amazing,” says Cardoso.

Jaden Smith - Surf Lodge - Musical Performance
Jaden Smith performing at the Surf Lodge in 2018.

This summer, the lodge’s French Riviera-inspired beach lounge Sandbar became a CB2 showroom, showcasing their Summer 2023 Collection by designer Ross Cassidy; Mary J. proffered her Sun Goddess wine, and there are a brigade of Land Rover Defenders for hotel guests to use. Upon check-in guests received a beauty-mini-bar bag with dozens of products from emerging and established brands.

With less than two dozen rooms, bookings at the Surf Lodge go fast and will open for the 2024 summer season in early May.

In the interim, Cardoso will decamp to Aspen for Snow Lodge, a winter-time supper club, lounge, and après ski, which launched at the St. Regis in 2019. There, she continues creating programming around five pillars: music, food, art, fashion and wellness.

“Every season, we tell a different story,” she says. “It’s never a dull moment.”

September on Shelter Island

Whether Shelter Island is actually considered the Hamptons is frequently up for debate, but it’s definitely not the Catskill Mountains. They are about 230 miles away. However, pay no mind to geography: Sept. 8 to 10 is when one of Shelter Island’s landmark hotels, the renovated, historic Pridwin Hotel & Cottages, hosts Dirty Dancing weekend. Eleanor Bergstein, writer and co-producer of the film, will be in attendance for an intimate conversation and movie screening.

Pridwin Hotel Cottages - Shelter Island
The pool at the Pridwin Hotel & Cottages on Shelter Island.

It feels like 1963 all over again (the year depicted in the movie) within Pridwin’s white clapboard main house and camp-cabin-esque private cottages, which give off major Kellerman’s Resort vibes thanks to a vinyl record player spinning the Dirty Dancing soundtrack in your room upon arrival; a Dirty Dancing Happy Hour, featuring a themed “I Carried a Watermelon” cocktail and light bites; a “She’s Like The Wind” Sunset Cruise on The Pridwin’s private boat; “Hungry Eyes” barbecue on The Pridwin’s Great Lawn; and “I’ve Had the Time of My Life” farewell brunch on Sunday morning.

Pridwin Hotel Cottages - Shelter Island
A sitting area at Pridwin Hotel & Cottages, designed by Colleen Bashaw, Brown Hall Design.

Year-Round Wellness Retreats

If you are looking for a turnkey, year-round Hamptons pied-à-terre, the closest thing without plunking down $52 million (like Tom Ford did this summer for Jackie Kennedy’s former East Hampton estate Lasata) is the barefoot beachfront luxury of Marram in Montauk.

Marram - Boutique Hotel - Bedroom - Montauk - New York
A guest room at Marram in Montauk, New York.

A boutique screen-free resort named for indigenous dune grass, it’s designed with Noguchi light sculptures, white oak furniture, rough hewn touareg mats and concrete floors. Much of the action centers around nightly communal wood-burning fire pit experiences, which encompass complimentary s’mores to private beach experiences with your own personal attendant. Wellness programs range from yoga and meditation to tarot card readings and stargazing. Located alongside Shadmoor State Park, it’s the perfect spot to answer the call of nature to hike, surf, explore or walk the beach beneath the “hoodoo” cliffs. Marram’s oceanfront outdoor freshwater pool is heated and open until Oct. 9 and provides a vantage point for whale watching.

Rising above the opulent vanity typically associated with this stretch of Long Island, Shou Sugi Ban House is where to embark on a personal holistic journey. (Shou Sugi Ban is an ancient Japanese technique that preserves wood by charring.) The resort promotes the philosophy: “alchemize life by stoking the fires of transformation.” Spread over five acres in Water Mill just three miles from the ocean, this gated compound is Hamptons’ first destination spa and wellness retreat with guest studios, spa, bed and breakfast and two residences for short-term rentals. In between there are winding pathways and trees, rock water fountains and a dining orchard.

Shou Sugi Ban - Meditation Hall - Water Mill - New York
Shou Sugi Ban’s meditation hall.

The theme “Return to the Simplicity of Self” inspires the wellness program — full of movement, meditation, nutrition, skin care, therapeutic massage and bodywork, hydrotherapy and a culinary program led by Mads Refslund, a co-founder of Noma in Copenhagen. Refslund created the retreat’s plant-forward culinary program upon its debut in 2019. The rotating series of experiences teach energy medicine or invite a new moon celebration.

Museums & Galleries

In July, the East End’s most significant art institution, Parrish Art Museum in Water Mill, was at the center of the protest between climate activists Planet Over Profit (POP) and New York Communities for Change (NYCC) and the museum’s sponsors such as Bank of America and Citigroup, who came under fire for allegedly “fueling the climate crisis” and greenwashing their corporate images by attaching their names to community events.

“All these museums do good work, but these billionaires and banks are greenwashing their images by capitalizing off of the work these institutions do through financial contributions that they’re able to write off as tax deductibles,” POP member Ella Mead-VanCort told Hyperallergic, noting these organizations don’t have issue with the Parrish Art Museum or its staff.

In fact, Parrish is known for a socially conscious stance it takes with its acquisitions. Earlier in the summer, Parrish revealed Les Enfants d’Ouranos by French artist JR. The 200-foot-long photographic montage depicts 40 children playfully running in refugee camps, removed from their original context, and transported into an idealized world. The project is based on photographs taken by the artist in camps in Rwanda, Ukraine, Mauritania, Greece, and Colombia. Also, until Feb. 2024, the feature exhibition Artists Choose Parrish, Part II presents major contemporary artists alongside selections from the permanent collection.

JR - Les Enfants d’Ouranos - Parrish Art Museum - Water Mill - New York - Artwork
JR’s Les Enfants d’Ouranos at the Parrish Art Museum in Water Mill, New York.

Max Levai’s horse-farm-turned-art-gallery The Ranch places art in three significant spaces throughout Montauk: West Barn and The Field, located in a pasture at The Ranch; and The Dock at Gosman’s, just a few minutes away.  The Ranch sits on the edge of Andy Warhol’s famous Eothen estate and the land has a historical pedigree of its own as Theodore Roosevelt trained the Rough Riders army there and Carl Fischer, the godfather of Miami Beach, built the barns and operated a polo field on the property in the late 1920s. Billy Joel, Paul Simon, and James Brown used it as a concert arena in the ’80s. Through the end of 2023, Matt Johnson’s exhibition 19 Sculptures is shown within The Field. Inside the West Barn, Land/Time by Trevor Shimizu explores the power of shifting landscapes from city to town life.

Trevor Shimizu - Land/Time - Art Show - The Ranch
Land/Time from L.A. artist Trevor Shimizu explores his transience from the big city to a town along the Hudson River. The image also shows the beautiful architecture of the Carl Fisher Barn.

The Church Sag Harbor is in fact a church but, since 2017, it also has a place to worship great art. Built in 1835, it was deconsecrated in 2007 and a decade later purchased by art denizens Eric Fischl and April Gornik, who began an extensive renovation revealing its architectural glory. On its windows, Fischl created portraits of Sag Harbor luminaries to juxtapose the rotating seasonal contemporary exhibits that fill the multi-story gallery. From Oct. 8 to Dec. 17, 2023, RE:CYCLE The Ubiquitous Bicycle examines the bicycle in a whole new light, presenting examples of bicycle design alongside a selection of fine art photography and video.

Also in Sag, contemporary photography gallery Salthouse features works from celebrity photographer Mark Seliger, fashion photographer Daniella Midenge and documentarian Lori Hawkins.

Food & Fashion

A treasure chest of Hamptons life, Donna Karan’s Urban Zen showcases the designer’s signature body enveloping designs with accents from collections she personally loves like Ukrainian jewelry artist Elena Lyakir’s Armed With Ardor. Lyakir — who works with stones that are indigenous to the places she has visited — has created a unique epoxy compound, which she molds, sculpts, carves and shapes around the material with gold dust, patinas, resin and rare vintage chains.

Next door to Urban Zen, Tutto il Giorno is the Italian restaurant owned by Karan’s daughter, which recently announced it will be opening in Palm Beach. Down the street, the legendary Le Bilboquet brings St. Tropez to Sag Harbor with a decadent late-night scene.

Without a Nobu in sight, celebrities flock to Japanese staple Kissaki in Water Mill and sister restaurant to O by Kissaki in East Hampton, featuring kaiseki and omakase that makes you forget you are far from the big city.

Loulou La Plage - Food and Drinks
Food and drinks at Loulou La Plage, located at The Maidstone Hotel in East Hampton, New York.

Chelsea’s Loulou Petit Bistro, which has fans such as Christopher Meloni, Bridget Moynahan, Benedict Cumberbatch, William Abadie and Richard Quest, made its East Hampton debut this year at the historic Maidstone Hotel. With a secret wellness garden, cocktails and book club and Midnight In Paris Fridays, the East End audience is eating it up. By popular demand, Loulou will be open through the end of the year.

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