Insider’s Guide to the Haute Hamptons

By Heather Buchanan and Christina Bohnstengel

The Hamptons have long been considered the stomping grounds for the nation’s elite. For a three-month span each year, the East End of Long Island becomes the most exclusive stretch of land in the U.S., a haven where celebrities intermingle with the extremely wealthy while those who are considered merely rich are relegated to spend their summers observing from the sidelines.

While finding a summer home to rent, or perhaps a permanent address to call home, may be easier than in years past, just because you happen to physically be in the area code doesn’t mean that you are officially in the know. In fact, in the 1950s people often said, “Southampton is for the sporting rich; Bridgehampton is for the nearly rich; East Hampton for the filthy rich.” And while the saying may hold more true than not, there’s more to the Hamptons than just shopping on the main drags, socializing, and sunning on the beach. Some of the smaller, less glitzy communities on the East End have much to offer those seeking a simpler lifestyle. That’s why Haute Living is here to help navigate all of the best locales, from the latest and greatest restaurants and shopping havens to the established outposts that we have come to adore. Whether in the Hamptons for the first time this season or the first time in your lifetime, head to any of these haute spots and experience a glorious piece of the coveted Hamptons lifestyle.

First Things First: Getting There…in Style

One if by Air

Success is a journey, not a destination. This adage clearly was said with regret by someone stuck in traffic trying to get to the Hamptons for a summer weekend. For those who know that time is money and quality time with family is priceless, a 40-minute ride to the East End via helicopter or private jet deposits savings in the enjoyment bank.

For those arriving by air, the East Hampton Airport can accommodate jets up to a G5, as well as helicopters; larger private jets must head for the Francis S. Gabreski Airport in Westhampton Beach. A bit under the radar is the helipad on Meadow Lane in Southampton. Residents on this desirable street were willing to pay prices upwards of $40 million per estate not only because of the stunning ocean and bay views but also thanks to the convenience of being able to travel from Manhattan to Meadow Lane practically door to door.

For those who may not have their own plane or a fractional ownership in NetJets, there are a number of charter services available in the area. Sound Aircraft Services, based at East Hampton Airport, operates a shared charter seaplane service on Cessna Caravans from the E23rd seaport in Manhattan-perfect for weekend travel.

Traveling to the Hamptons in style is an absolute must, and as such, what better way to arrive than in the Rolls-Royce of helicopters, the Sikorski S-76. Associated Aircraft Group (AAG) is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation, the same brand used for the presidential helicopter as well as the royal family of England, and the namesake of the inventor of the modern helicopter. As such, AAG is the largest helicopter charter company that can deliver you from your corporate business meeting in the city to your beachfront island estate. Not only are they the largest, but their experience with high profile fliers, from C-level executives to government leaders to entertainment moguls, means their client list is shrouded in secrecy, as one would expect. They have built their reputation on professionalism and an intricate understanding of their client demographic, which is someone who has everything but time.

Haute Jets, our newly launched private charter service, works with all models of luxury air travel, and has access to an amazing fleet of Citation X’s that fly to the Hamtons. The company offers on-demand charter, with access to more than 5,000 jets leaving from airports around the world with as little as 12 hours notice.  We also provide full concierge service that will arrange catering and ground transportation upon arrival. More information on all of these services can be found on our web site,, where you can explore all of the charter options.

Two if by Sea

How civilized to sail into the Hamptons just in time for the famed sunsets at East Hampton Point Marina and Resort. To extend their playgrounds beyond the deck of yachts, boaters can dock in the full-service marina (complete with lounge and provision store), which accommodates yachts up to 60 feet in the slip and up to 120 feet on a moor on the outer dock. The resort offers a heated pool, as well as a gym and tennis courts to help sailors regain their land legs. Recently renovated private English country manor cottages and suites are also available to rent. The restaurant with floor-to-ceiling windows keeps with the nautical theme, and Chef Craig Attwood incorporates the local bounty from both the sea and farms into his menu. Not to be missed: brunch on the outdoor deck, complete with an expansive raw bar.

Guest service specialists are onsite to help arrange anything from private yoga classes, spa treatments, and babysitting, to visiting award-winning local vineyards. Should one have to jump off the megayacht for a quick jaunt into Manhattan, it will prove to be no problem at this resort, as the owner is also the proprietor of East Hampton Airlines, which is available for guests to charter. The epitome of chic rides, the newest aircraft has an Hermès saddle leather interior.

A famous port for more than 250 years, Sag Harbor’s wharfs have seen everything from whaling boats and British schooners to luxury pleasure yachts. Its secure harbor and charming bayside Victorian village make it a return destination for well-keeled mariners.

The Sag Harbor Yacht Club, which dates to 1899, welcomes all visiting yachtsmen from smaller family vessels to large megayachts. The club is known for its professional staff that offers concierge service to both owners and crews alike. While SHYC’s prime location keeps the club quiet and private, it is still only a short walk into the village and short drive to the pristine Hamptons beaches.

Sag Harbor Cove Yacht Club is tucked quietly away on the side of town, availing 160 slips for power boats up to 75 feet, provided they can clear the 21 ½-foot bridge into the protected cove, which has front row seats to bursting sunsets. A helpful staff can arrange day charters for water skiing, wake boarding, or fishing, and can pick up guests arriving via sea plane, which lands just outside the breakwater in the main harbor. An added bonus is the resident Beacon Restaurant, home to the best waterside dining in the Hamptons.
A Place to Rest Your Head

Montauk Yacht Club Resort & Marina
32 Star Island Rd.

This past year, the 80-year-old Montauk Yacht Club Resort & Marina reopened, unveiling multimillion-dollar renovations that restore its Prohibition-era grandeur as well as a host of modern-day amenities. Part of the international Island Global Yachting network, the historic property comprises 107 rooms and 23 private villa accommodations. The property is a self-contained resort including everything from a full-service spa and fitness center to upscale retail, dining, and nightlife experiences. The resort amenities also include a private beach, tennis, outdoor and indoor pools, golf at the nearby Montauk Downs, as well as the first-class, 232-slip marina. There are four dining facilities: the Gulf Coast Kitchen, Hurricane Alley, Barracuda Bar and Turtle Lounge. The marina was recognized by Yachting magazine as one of the “Top Ten Marina Destinations in North America, Mexico & the Bahamas.” It can accommodate vessels measuring up to 275 feet and features signature IGY services and full resort services dockside. For more information, check out “A Rich History,” a guide to East Coast marinas, in this edition’s “On the Water” chapter.

Sunset Beach
35 Shore Rd.
Shelter Island

For the nouveau Hamptons visitor, reserving a room or renting a house right in the heart of the heyday of summertime fun is too tempting to resist. But for the experienced Hamptons vacationer who is truly seeking an authentic beach retreat, a short trek down the road to Shelter Island always delivers a return on the investment of drive time. This hidden gem of the East End, located in the inlet between the forks of Long Island, is home to a ’60s-style hipster hotel, courtesy of André Balazs of the Standard Hotel and Chateau Marmont fame. The hotel presents simple, beach-chic rooms with bay-view balconies. The staff, hand-picked from 25 different countries, is eager to help with any special requests, even offering guests pointers for the on-site Petanque game. Sunset Beach’s 20 rooms are outfitted according to a decorating theme that could be described as kitschy-chic. Don’t be frightened though, luxury-lovers can still bask in the glory of 400-thread count sheets and private sun decks. Whimsical, relaxing, and super-secluded are the attributes that draw in the guests who are seeking a real weekend getaway.

Haute Newcomers

Activities on the East End abound, but first things first-the commute was horrid and you are starving. Hamptonites and Hampton-goers, famous for under-using their Viking stoves, will be glad to know the restaurant scene will remain alive and well this summer with a new roster of eateries aiming to satisfy the insatiable appetite of the jetset to venture forth to eat, drink, and be merry. These choice locales are poised to be the hautest new dining destinations this year.

Mezzaluna Amg
231 Main St.

Since the venerated Gordon’s Restaurant closed its doors after 30 years, people have wondered who would fill the very big shoes left by the Amagansett eatery. Following a 16-month, top-to-bottom building renovation, Mezzaluna Amg will be opening this June, matching its simple yet sophisticated food to the Hamptons lifestyle. Licensed from Mezzaluna NYC, the Amagansett incarnation features NYC’s former chef Marco Divina, who was flown in from Florence to preside over the menu. Those who can’t live without Mezzaluna’s famed pizza during the summer months will be happy to know they can find the pies here-accompanied by a full bar, a welcome change from the Manhattan flagship.

Owner and operator Jack Luber teamed with architect James D’Auria to give the new restaurant a clean, modern interior. The full-wall glass windows provide diners a glimpse of Main Street to the front and a picturesque garden and patio to the rear. In true Hamptons fashion, Mezzaluna Amg will offer Après Beach from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m., with lighter fare perfect for post-surf, -sand, or -sail. For those who prefer to have a siesta following sun worshipping, dinner is served until 11:30 p.m. nightly. And for those with a spot in their hearts for the past, the East End’s most recognized maître d’ Tasim has continued on with Mezzaluna following the lamented closing of Gordon’s.

Phao Thai Kitchen
29 Main Street
Sag Harbor

Like a favorite old boyfriend who moves back to town, after a seven-year sabbatical Phao Restaurant is back. Moving in next to its sister sushi restaurant Sen in the former Sen Spice Lounge space, Phao Thai Kitchen is heating up Main Street in Sag Harbor. If your palate is set to mild, traditional favorites like chicken satay and pad thai are crowd pleasers, or should you prefer to sizzle, go for the tongue-tingling drunken noodles. Chef Deena Chafetz capitalizes on her local seafood connections to headline her creations. Cool down arrives in the form of signature exotic cocktails perfect for summer, like the cucumber mojito, or a choice from the extensive beer and sake list. The space is dark and intimate with an Asian feel that is a welcome ethnic counterpoint for the Hamptons. Co-owner Jeff Resnick likens it to a small club one might find in St. Barths. As the moon rises and the mid-summer Saturday night partygoers get ready for dreams, the tables clear and the restaurant transforms into a chill dance lounge with DJ.

Georgica Restaurant and Lounge
108 Wainscott Stone Rd.

There is hallowed ground, and in the Hamptons there is also hallowed water. Georgica Pond has been graced by many a mogul resident, and now Georgica Restaurant and Lounge is setting its own stylish lily pad on this pond, launching in the space formerly occupied by Saracen. The classic Tudor exterior opens to an updated, spacious, bright interior with bar, restaurant including a covered porch with a view of the pond, and chill-out lounge upstairs with a private chef’s table. Fresh off of the hit Gordon Ramsay show Hell’s Kitchen, Chefs Robert Hesse of Q Restaurant in Quogue and Seth Levine, who trained at the Lorenzo de Medici Culinary School in Florence, combine skills to offer Modern American comfort food like truffle lobster mac ‘n’ cheese, and local watermelon and heirloom tomato salad. Georgica also offers a killer weekend brunch and late night menu with fresh brick-oven pizzas, served alongside signature sangria and specialty drinks made from fresh juice mixers. Matt Levine (of the Eldridge and Levant East), who is overseeing the evening’s late night entertainment, sets the space’s lively tone.

Sunset Beach
35 Shore Rd.
Shelter Island

While we recommend Sunset Beach as a relaxing resort to escape the typical Hamptons madness, if you can’t resist the urge to stay in the heart of the action, you must at least spend an afternoon, which rolls into the evening, enjoying the restaurant at Andre Balazs’ Shelter Island hotel. Preferring the island’s low-key nature to more thriving East End enclaves, international high profilers have quietly been buying on the island for years, and frequenting this beachside hot spot where no less than three languages are often heard over espresso and Limoncello. Bathing beauties who had to swim from the yacht and lunch with a wet bikini in years past will be glad to know that this season a launch will shuttle them to shore, also accommodating hotel guests arriving via seaplane.

The al fresco French restaurant skips the heavy in favor of crisp flavors. A crostini served with a fava, mint, basil purée; shaved local asparagus salad; and whole roasted Branzino with white wine and thyme are menu favorites. Inspired by Provence, the light, fragrant Andre Balazs Reserve Sunset Beach Rosé wine perfectly complements many menu items, and serves a second purpose beyond libation: filtering the setting sun through the chilled glass to bathe diners in a flattering pink hue. Serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner until midnight, the restaurant hosts everyone from beach-goers in sarongs to black-tie revelers post-benefit. Patou, described as the soul of Sunset Beach, brings his favorite music from around the tropical world to set the vibe, turning it up after dinner for those looking to dance under the stars. Just make sure you don’t miss the last ferry to the mainland.

c/o The Maidstone
207 Main St.
East Hampton

Hip arrives in the Hamptons via Stockholm. The eco-friendly Scandinavian lifestyle c/o Hotels have expanded to the historic Maidstone Arms in East Hampton Village, respecting the grande dame’s traditional façade while transforming the interior into a mix of vibrant colors and contemporary comforts. Proud owner Jenny Ljungberg collaborated with designer Nadia Tolstoy to create “Scandinavian cozy,” a curated mix of antiques and modern pieces, taking the lead from colorful vintage Josef Frank fabrics and furniture design.

Any time of day, the lounge welcomes guests to relax and enjoy an antioxidant smoothie or a glass of organic Champagne. “I made a personal choice to value how I live,” says Jenny, “and I plan to live a long time.” That motto is reflected in the onsite yoga classes, meditation garden, organic linens, and aromatherapy found in each room. The new Living Room restaurant, open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, is a partnership of slow food pioneer Executive Chef James Carpenter and Swedish Sous Chef Bjorn Eriksson. The menu features local organic produce, meat, and seafood prepared with a Scandinavian twist. Take, for example, Toast Pelle Janzon, a grass-fed beef carpaccio named after a Swedish opera star; or Toast Skagen, baby shrimp mixed with chopped dill dressing on a toasted brioche. The wine list mirrors the menu with the best local wines as well as international vintages. Wine club members have the added benefit of keeping their own stash on site to be served when they visit. A world traveler, Jenny aims to spread “the art of appreciation,” introducing her guests to the best of the Hamptons, Sweden, and the rest of the globe.

Day & Night Restaurant and Beach Club
281 County Rd. 39A

Dynamic duo Derek and Daniel Koch of Merkato 55 have turned back the clock to start the daytime vibe at the newly opened Day & Night Restaurant and Beach Club next to the Pink Elephant Nightclub in Southampton. Poolside at the Capri Hotel, local and international DJ’s spin tunes in this super sexy sandbox where everyone wants to play. Guests lounge in private cabanas or gather at tables on the deck to enjoy a menu that morphs from light summer salads to twin grass-fed Day & Night burgers to an extensive raw bar. Signature summer cocktails are infused with fresh peach, cucumber, and wild Hamptons strawberries, and the energy, like the Champagne, is brimming over the top. At this new sunny hot spot, 2 p.m. is the new 2.a.m. where revelers can have brunch then stretch out on a day bed or stand up and samba. The handsome double-D team of Derek and Daniel lend their personal touch, raising the bar on summer Hamptons’ fun.
A Day of Diversion…Hamptons Style

Mercedes-Benz Polo Challenge
Bridgehampton Polo
849 Hayground Rd.

British Cavalry Captain John Watson, who created the first written rules for polo in 1870, could hardly have imagined the sport’s current incarnation. The pinnacle of the Hamptons summer season is the Mercedes-Benz Polo Challenge at Blue Star Jets Field, hosted by the Bridgehampton Polo Club. For six summer Saturdays starting on July 18, the world’s finest polo players and their superior steeds battle for the trophy. The thrill of excitement is a full sensory experience as these incredible equestrians gallop down the field full tilt while wielding a mallet to hit the ball that can travel to speeds of 110 m.p.h. This is the stomping ground of celebrities and jetsetters who join to stomp the divots on the field at half time of the six-chucker play. The door fee benefits the South Fork Breast Health Coalition, and spectators have the option of bringing a gourmet picnic to enjoy at a field-side tailgate. For sponsors and their invited guests, the VIP tent presents a first class experience with as much excitement under the tent as in the field, including fine food, drinks, luxury shopping, and the only place where drinking Champagne from a straw is correct etiquette. Guests also get to check out the newest Mercedes on display, showing its own impressive horsepower.

All American Picnic and Fireworks
Friday, July 3, 7 p.m.
Rain date:  Sunday, July 5
1030 Meadow Lane

When it’s time to celebrate the red, white, and blue, best to do it in true Hamptons fashion, which means, ensure your entry to one of the biggest fundraising events of the summer. This year will mark the Southampton Fresh Air Home’s 22nd annual American Picnic, complete with the renowned Grucci fireworks over Shinnecock Bay. Every year close to 800 guests descend upon a private Meadow Lane estate to enjoy everything great about our country’s heritage, including hot dogs, barbeque, potato salad, and ice cream, served picnic buffet style. Balloons, clowns, and carnival games are not the only reason to show up for the fun though. The Hamptons’ who’s who are staples at the event, which means come dressed to impress. We did say this was for charity, right? In addition to serving as one of the social events of the season, the American Picnic raises more than 40 percent of the annual operating expenses for the Southampton Fresh Air Home, which, for more than a century, has served as a residential summer camp for physically challenged youth.

Retail Therapy

63 Main Street
East Hampton

No one forgets their first time, and the summer of 2009 will be forever etched in our memories as the glorious year that Hermès of Paris opened its first seasonal store ever, right here in East Hampton. To mark such a momentous occasion, the ultimate name in luxury labels will be stocking exclusive merchandise in its 2,000-square-foot boutique (the first dedicated solely to resort and summer collections) that will only be available to our lucky East End residents and visitors through September 20. A limited edition East Hampton towel and a one-of-a-kind, white “Essentielle” saddle crafted from togo leather, based on the French brand’s most popular hunting and jumping saddle models, are available as some of the “hautest” souvenirs you can buy to commemorate your 2009 summer escapes in the Hamptons. Because of the uniqueness of this exclusive saddle, the Parisian craftsmen also designed all the necessary accessories to match it, including white bridle, reins, stirrups leather, and girth.

London Jewelers
2046 Northern Blvd

Just as you wouldn’t show up to a gala event in last season’s Blahniks, no decent Hamptonite would attend a summer soiree without the appropriate jewels. Fortunately, members of the Udell family understand the importance of this concept and have been bejeweling the Hamptons’ ladies who lunch since 1926. Founding father Charles London opened the first branch of London Jewelers in Glen Cove, teaching his family the ropes of the business in such a successful way that more than 80 years later, London Jewelers enjoys five outposts on the island, making them the exclusive jeweler for those in the know. True treasures await at any of the locales, but we are particular fans of the boutique in Manhasset due to the 96-square-foot walk-in humidor filled with an extensive supply of cigars and cigar storage units. While this is impressive, so too is the third floor of the East Hampton store where an audiovisual room serves as the venue for a private rendezvous with the jewelers. Want a sneak peek of what they have to offer? Don’t miss their famous trunk shows and jewelry fairs where pieces from names like Cartier, H. Stern, Baccarat, and Bulgari make us drool.
The Hamptons Power Players

With so many remarkable places to see and be seen, it leaves one to wonder, who will be frequenting these Hamptons haute spots this summer season. Whether in-season or off, there is an ultra-elite group of power players who make the island tick. These Hamptonites are part of what makes the East End so alluring to the rest of us. Their aura of greatness possesses a magnetic force that pulls us in and makes us want to know what they know and go where they go. Though their industries carry over seemingly unrelated categories, from entertainment to investing, their specific areas of expertise are not as important as their impact on the East End, which at the end of the summer, or the end of the year, is undeniable.

Ralph Lauren

The Philanthropic Designer

It’s no secret that some of Manhattan’s most famous mugs are spotted at the various fundraising events on the charity circuit scene, including Kelly Ripa, Martha Stewart, and Sarah Jessica Parker, but for the second year in a row, one famous designer is not just showing up for the parties, he is designing for his favorite philanthropic venture. Once again, Ralph Lauren is lending his artistic hand to support the East Hampton Historical Society by designing EHHS-logoed apparel for the new summer collection. In addition to offering up 100 percent of the proceeds from the sales of the waffle tees, hoodies, ball caps, and beach totes, the demigod designer is also underwriting several renovation projects for the nonprofit, which maintains historic East Hampton buildings as well as hosts exhibitions, tours, and workshops on the social and natural history of the area. In 2008 Polo Ralph Lauren announced plans to fund the restoration of the barns and landscape of Mulford Farm, an English Colonial farmstead listed on the National Register of Historic Places. With boutique venues all across the region, including the East Hampton Country Store, the Children’s store, and the RRL store, Lauren’s presence as a Hamptons power player cannot be questioned.

Donna Karan
The Stylista of Serenity

However prevalent Lauren may be, he does not have sole designer claim on the exclusive island. Donna Karan has been called the hardest-working hostess in the Hamptons as she has her hands in a plethora of projects, many of which are centered around the Sag Harbor locale of Urban Zen. The retail boutique carries women’s apparel designed by Karan, a collection for children and men, as well as accessories, books and lifestyle products for the home. But Urban Zen is not just a store that instills serenity in name alone. It is a concept with which Karan is hoping to inspire a paradigm shift of social change by merging philanthropy with fashion. A portion of the proceeds from the store’s sales support her Urban Zen Foundation, Karan’s nonprofit dedicated to the wellbeing and empowerment of children worldwide, as well as the preservation of the heritage and cultures of the globe. Her East Hampton home is a favorite retreat for such respected divas as Barbara Streisand, perhaps due to the tranquil decorating philosophy that Karan employed, complete with a spa and yoga studio in her garden.

Billy Joel
The Resident Musician

No mention of the famous faces of the Hamptons would be complete without the inclusion of America’s favorite piano man. Billy Joel started showing up on the Hamptons scene decades ago and loved it so much he never left. After spending a month earlier this year touring the great wide countryside and hamming it up on the harmonica alongside Elton John, Joel recently returned to his Sag Harbor home with great elation, calling the East End village his favorite town. So what does a hard working crooner do to settle down after a month-long tour? Launch an exhibition at Christy’s Building Art Centre on Main Street in Sag Harbor, of course. From June 6 to June 20, Joel’s collection of approximately 30 vintage and new motorcycles will be on display in a piece call “The Motorcycle as Art and Icon.” Joel’s collection includes Royal Enfield messenger bikes, a 1976 Italian Moto Guzzi, a 1975 Ducotti 750 Sport, and a 1939 EL Knucklehead Deluxe OHV, as well as more modern versions like a new English Triumph Thruxton, and Harley Davidson Soft Tail and Road King.

Jerry Seinfeld
The Stand-Up Superstar

While one man’s trash may be another man’s treasure, as it relates to this opulent coastal paradise, Hamptons’ hand-me-downs are quite the find. When Billy Joel was done with his East Hampton waterfront estate that he shared in the ’80s with then-wife Christie Brinkley, he sold it to America’s best-loved comedian. Jerry Seinfeld spent $32 million on the East Hampton estate in 2000 and then dropped another $1.4 million in renovations, which included the addition of a regulation-size baseball field and a 22-car garage. The 14-acre property, which consistently appears on “Best Of” lists, has been described as an American Versailles and has housed such headline-garnering stars as Madonna and Alex Rodriguez who spent time, together, in the seven-bedroom mansion last winter. But it’s not just Seinfeld’s home that makes the Hamptons’ headlines. He is touted as one of the most well-liked residents, sponsoring and throwing first pitches for the Hampton Whalers baseball team and supporting local Little League baseball programs and summer-long series of free youth clinics.

Russell Simmons

The Multifaceted Megaproducer

While Seinfeld’s popularity may have been a given, when the hip-hop moguls started rolling into town, residents had their doubts. But then Russell Simmons put many to shame with his untiring philanthropic efforts. His devotion to the charity that he and his brothers founded in 1995, Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation, has changed the lives of countless disadvantaged urban children by offering them access to the arts. “It is through art that we see young people learn to value their own unique voices and visions; and it is through art that we see artists transform the minds and eyes of society.” Simmons supports this mission each year at his 6,200-square-foot East Hampton estate with the Art For Life Benefit. While it is a cause for celebration every year, this particular summer it is sure to be quite the blowout as it is the 10th anniversary of the event. Simmons has played host to 750 guests who shell out at least $1,500 for a much-coveted ticket to the fundraiser, which will take place this year on July 18.

Julian Schnabel
The Neo Expressionist

Of course Simmons is not the only supporter of the arts on the island. In fact, the colony of artists inhabiting the East End is as legendary as a summer dinner at Nick & Toni’s. With forefathers like Jackson Pollack, Roy Lichtenstein, and Willem de Kooning paving the way from Manhattan to Montauk, it is not so unusual to find Academy Award-winner Julian Schnabel surfing these same Atlantic shores. While the renowned plate-painter made a name for himself on the New York art scene in the ’80s, his emergence as a well-respected filmmaker in the 21st century took flight with the debut of The Diving Bell and the Butterfly at The Hamptons International Film Festival, which served as the launching pad for his Oscar win for Best International Film. Though film may have taken up a good portion of his time in previous years, the artist is still a painter at heart, breathing in the salty sea air as he practices his craft; his concrete studio, located on his 19th century Montauk estate, bears no roof.

George Soros

The Economic Oracle

Arts and entertainment personalities are a thriving community in the Hamptons, but so too is the pack of big dog billionaires, with George Soros as one of the defined leaders. Thought to be the clairvoyant of economics, years before the rest of America started weeping from financial woes, the hedge-fund guru published multiple books predicting a breakdown of our financial markets. So convinced he was of the truth in his fiscal prophecy that in 2007, at age 77, he ditched the daily life of retirement in order to protect his fortune. While the rest of the playmakers were falling hard and fast, he was one Hamptons hedge funder to come out on top. Serving as more than just an observer and writer, Soros takes the proactive path less traveled and hosts power lunches for power players at his Southampton home. He has used his Hamptons estate as a strategic war room for conceptualizing plans to remove presidents from office (and raised more than $12 million dollars in one night to do so) and to deliberate successful strategies for recovering from the subprime mortgage mess. In 2006 Ben and Linda Lambert redeveloped the staff quarters of his estate into six luxury Spanish Revival condominiums on Old Town Road that are priced from $2.1 million to $4.3 million

Ron Perelman

Simply Put…The Billionaire

Sharing a big dog billionaire title with Soros is the tabloid headliner Ron Perelman, who, in 1985, after a heated bidding war, bought The Revlon Corporation for $58.00 a share. His latest entrepreneurial effort is sure to delight both locals and visitors in the summer of ’09. The beloved Blue Parrot, which has not seen the light of day since 2006, will dust off the tablecloths and reopen its shuddered East Hampton doors thanks to Perelman and his partners Larry Gagosian, Jon Bon Jovi, Renée Zellweger, and restaurateur Andrew Chapman. (Perelman is also a partner with Graydon Carter in the recently reopened Monkey Bar in New York.) Perelman concedes that it was not just his hankering for a Friday night margarita in a fun and funky venue that called to his inner restaurateur, but his desire to give back to the community that has given so much to him. The 55-seat restaurant will cater to the casual, accepting no reservations.

Richard Meier

The King of White

Finally, no Hamptons’ list would be complete without the inclusion of the King of White, although his own East Hampton farmhouse is a stripped shade of natural weathered wood. In 1984 Richard Meier was catapulted into the fame game when he became the youngest architect ever to win the Pritzker Prize. Since then his projects, which have included awe-inspiring structures like The Getty Center and Barcelona’s Museum of Contemporary Art, are usually completed in a minimalistic non-color palette of white. The month of May proved to be quite successful for the longtime Hamptonite as his book Meier: Richard Meier & Partners, Complete Works 1963-2008 hit the shelves to rave reviews. Additionally, the American Institute of Architecture awarded his House at Sagaponac project with one of seventeen “2009 Housing Awards”. Meier conceived of the Wainscott home, while Calvin Tsao of TsAO & McKOWN Archtiects designed the project. Meier’s own Hampton home was built in 1907 and he reportedly enjoys a daily swim right in front of his oceanfront estate.