Navigating the Upper Crust of the East End

The Hamptons continue to increase in popularity, and unfortunately, with popularity comes notoriety, and it seems as if everyone is trying to get in on the once-exclusive action. When you hear that train wreck Lindsay Lohan’s dad Michael Lohan (a train wreck himself) is opening a club in the Hamptons, it’s clear that the high-end East End has been raided by the masses. But don’t let that deter you from heading to the Hamptons this summer (or keep you hiding in the privacy of your home once you arrive, although that sounds like a lovely way to spend a weekend—just not the whole season); we’ve got the inside scoop on the new haute spots and the established favorites where, while you may encounter a Black AmEx or two, you won’t find wannabes.

Hamptons 101

For those who spent the past few summers in the Côte d’Azure rather than the East End, here’s a quick refresher course for you: About 120 miles outside of Manhattan, Long Island splits into the North and South Forks. The North Fork is where you will find vineyards and quiet villages, while the South Fork is home to the Hamptons. While technically divided into two “main” towns of Southampton and East Hampton, there are a number of incorporated villages under those umbrellas, each with its own personality and history, which affects the types of people (and locations that cater to them) found there. While the Hamptons technically begin with Westhampton, we suggest you keep heading east until you hit one of the five villages that embody the true Hamptons spirit:  Southampton Village (generally just referred to as “Southampton”), Sag Harbor, East Hampton Village (again, just call it “East Hampton”), Montauk, and Shelter Island. Don’t let the reports of a housing crisis fool you; after a slow year in 2009, the Hamptons have bounced back, and as a whole, real estate is up 33 percent this year, with an average selling price of $1.74 million, according to appraisers Miller Samuels. A thriving real estate market means a thriving economy, which is reflected in the many offerings in the East End.

Getting There

Traffic from Manhattan to the Hamptons is all but guaranteed, and traffic sucks, unless it’s seen from a bird’s-eye view as you cruise over it in the comfort of a private jet. The East Hampton Airport can accommodate jets up to a G5; larger aircraft should head for the Francis S. Gabreski Airport in Westhampton Beach. If a helicopter is your bird of choice, a helipad on Southampton’s prestigious Meadow Lane allows you to touch down amidst the action. From there, all of the luxuries of the Hamptons are at your fingertips. Given the abundance of locales permeating the scene, here are our choices for establishments that should grab your attention in 2010.