The smartest New Yorkers winter in the Hamptons



Leyla Marchetto ditched Manhattan for Montauk in 2012. The restaurant owner loves the laid-back lifestye.

Roads are nearly free of cars and the links lay quiet. By the ocean, lone figures walk beautiful stretches of deserted beach. Trendy restaurants have tables ready for patrons without reservations.

This is winter in the Hamptons and, perhaps not surprisingly, it’s starting to grow in popularity.

Many retailers and eateries are now staying open, and an expanding number of high-end condos with attractive off-season amenities are sprouting up to serve as turnkey year-round getaways. Vacation homeowners, and renters scared of summer prices, are also upping the population.

It seems many are rediscovering just how relaxing the Hamptons can be. Start with the drive from Manhattan to the South Fork: an average of two hours. Midday. On Fridays.

“People’s favorite time is October through the spring,” says Cee Scott Brown, a sales director with Corcoran. “When I moved here 22 years ago, winters most things were shut. Now, it’s the best of both worlds.”

Think tranquility coupled with peak-time conveniences.

“It’s like going to a country inn,” says Bruce Bronster, 52, who spends winter weekends at his Sag Harbor home. The partner at NYC law firm Windells Marx, who lives in Midtown, adds, “We relax. My kids don’t have to be monitored when they’re building a snowman.”

Condo developments (with more in the works), include: Southampton’s Bishops Pond, launched in 2013 from The Beechwood Organization (from $1.7 million, two of 79 units left); Montauk’s The Residences at Gurney’s from Gurney’s resort co-owner and developer George Filopoulos, which opened this past Memorial Day (from $4 million, 6 of 12 units left); Bridgehampton’s Barn & Vine from Continental Pinewood Development Partners, launched in 2014 (from $2.95 million; 14 homes and or lots left of 37); and the loft-like units of Sag Harbor’s Watchcase Factory from Cape Advisors (from $2.72 million, 80 percent sold of 63 units).

These relatively affordable options include perks from snow removal to personal chefs to maintenance for things like burst pipes.

And being close to town (take the Watchcase, a block off of Main Street) means socializing and shopping are non-issues.

Full-time Hamptons resident Marilyn Goldberg at Bishops Pond with her dog, Reggie.

“I was a little afraid I’d be lonely,” says Marilyn Goldberg, 70, who bought at Bishops Pond, just outside the Village of Southampton, in November 2015. The art and design entrepreneur, who also owns two summer rental homes and two city apartments, says she and her husband found “people were coming out [here] who were summer people before. … We’ve even been cross-country skiing on the beach! It’s a healthy life.”

“About 10 percent of Bishops Pond is year-round residents,” says Steven Dubb, principal at Beechwood. “They leave, come back and find the house the way they left it.”

Watchcase is also “designed to be year-round,” says Nina Kaminer, president of p.r. firm Nike Communications, who with husband Allen Cohen bought there in 2015. “There’s someone to help carry packages. The lobby fireplace is roaring.”

Kaminer and Cohen, who live in the Financial District, had owned a summer house. “Every weekend we had an issue,” says Kaminer, 56. “There was pool maintenance and landscaping, exterminators. [After] buying here, we never looked back.”

The Watchcase, a formerly abandoned Bulova watch factory, has Dumbo-esque apartments with oversized windows, 13-foot beamed ceilings, high-end appliances and terraces.

Its grand but cozy lobby includes a treat-and-wine room, plus there’s a fitness center and a staff including a concierge and live-in manager. (Summers, soak in the heated pool.)

At the Residences at Gurney’s, a sleek renovation of the Panoramic View motel, condo owners have full access to the resort and spa, as well many other amenities. But the biggest draw? “You can see and smell the waves,” Filopoulos says. “But don’t have the obligations that [come with] buying on the ocean, which generally is an enormous price tag.”

You don’t need to buy a home to enjoy the off-season. “The rental drop is radical,” says Enzo Morabito of Douglas Elliman.

For instance, a house that typically rents for $100,000 a month over the summer can cost $5,000 a month November through May, according to Douglas Elliman data. On the luxe end, a 6,600-square-foot house at 10 Pen Craig in Quogue South that asks $195,000 from Memorial to Labor days asks just $55,000 more for the entire year.

The rise in full-time living actually began post-9/11, brokers say, when families were anxious to get out of the city. Shop and restaurant owners began responding to the demand.

“We have definitely had more clients over the last 10 years walking through the doors in the depths of winter,” says Zoe Hoare-Mead, owner of English Country Antiques in Bridgehampton.

In fact, being there winters can be a sign of insider status. Carol Covell, general manager of The 1770 House Restaurant & Inn, says while she’s seeing more year-round visitors, “locals [know] that best time of year begins after Labor Day.” Hamptonites Alec Baldwin and Jimmy Fallon are among the regulars who dine there during deep freezes.

Others catching on include the married part-owners of popular beachside restaurant Navy Beach in Montauk (closed off-season), Leyla Marchetto and Franklin Ferguson, who bought a house there in 2012.

“We’ve let go of Manhattan,” Marchetto, 37, says. “We can walk to town. We have beautiful sunny days on the beach. It really is awesome.”