Like the French Riviera and Amalfi Coast, the Hamptons stand out as an enduring icon of coastal glamour. Hampton Bays, located near the end of Long Island (you’ll find NYC at the other end) and known as the “first stop out East,” is the Hamptons beach town that’s closest to the city—and now home once again to a destination-worthy hotel. Of the many celebrated historic hotels dotted around the U.S., including some found lining the shores of Long Island, few are more storied and treasured than the newly refurbished Canoe Place Inn and Cottages. The property channels an understated take on the Hamptons lifestyle with elegantly reimagined accommodations, locavore dining, and a spa created in partnership with ONDA by Naomi Watts.
Where it all began
If its walls could talk, Canoe Place would fill shelves with bestselling books. Documented as the site of America’s oldest inn, Canoe Place reopened this summer with much of its original “bones” intact and carefully restored as a new, boutique property for today’s discerning travelers. The next chapter of the historic property continues the story of a highly regarded and much-celebrated destination frequented by luminaries of years past.
Canoe Place first established itself as a notable spot for weary travelers to stay and water horses in 1697. The name recalled the property’s early use as a Native American portage site. After the Revolutionary War, this then-simple lodging house became a place of importance and was seen as a refined social gathering spot for bold-faced names and politicians alike.
For the next two centuries and under different ownerships, Canoe Place continued to build itself as a premier destination for holidaymakers. Ernest A. Buchmuller of the Waldorf Astoria and his stepson Louis developed the inn into a fully-fledged and respectable resort hotel, braving devastating fires and even a prohibition-era shutdown led by Federal agents from Washington disguised as wealthy patrons at the height of the Roaring 20s.
The new owners responsible for the renovation, cousins Gregg and Mitchell Rechler of Rechler Equity Partners, refused to let an American treasure be lost to history; they’ve been setting their sights on rejuvenating Canoe Place into the icon that it once was for more than a decade. Today, accommodations include 20 guest rooms and suites, five cottages, and residential-style boathouses spread out over six acres that span the Shinnecock canal.
More than a hotel
The Colonial-inspired structure has always been a prominent hub and, even while operating as everything from a nightclub complex to a dancehall, Canoe Place has also always been seen as an invaluable cultural crossroads. Exceptional hospitality remains the backbone of the establishment, as it welcomes both guests and passersby to stay a little longer and linger in the beauty and history of a U.S. landmark.
Despite its decade-long, head-to-toe renovation, the new vision maintains the overall integrity of the hotel and the restoration produces a modernized version of the historical inn. Working with acclaimed Brooklyn-based interior designers, Workstead, a “garden-by-the-sea” concept inspired the historic-turned-modern redo. Unfussy comfort best describes the chic, vintage-inspired motifs and trellis-patterned wallpaper that seamlessly complement the original fireplaces and vaulted ceilings of the grand ballroom and pavilion, all preserved to perfection. And Workstead outfitted each stylish guest suite and cottage with contemporary furnishings and sustainable bath products by Costa Brazil.
Art fans will be captivated by the property’s collection of paintings and sculptures from renowned artists such as Doug Aitken and James Turrell, whose Lapsed Quaker Ware pieces are beautifully displayed in the foyer of Canoe Place. Other artworks include Chief Pretty Eagle by Choctaw-Cherokee artist Jeffrey Gibson and Tony Tasset’s commanding, fiberglass-and-steel statue of a 12-foot deer.
Beautiful design and dining
The property’s role as a cultural hub continues in the kitchen of Canoe Place with exceptional dining experiences on offer under the helm of award-winning Chef Ülfet Ralph. A Relais & Château veteran, Ralph brings her Mediterranean roots to the table with a worldly yet regionally inspired menu that changes with the seasons. Working in partnership with the East End community of farmers, artisanal makers, and fishmen, the culinary team at Canoe Place source the highest quality and freshest ingredients depending on the time of year.
Start your evening with a chilled summer gazpacho with red tomatoes just off the vine before sharing a plate of grilled watermelon and feta salad served with wood-fired local bass with mixed organic veggies. Save room for dessert and dig into a new local favorite like a lemon semifreddo with apricot meringue and peaches or a decadent chocolate cake. If you really want to indulge, the filo bread pudding with banana, cardamom cream, and coffee bourbon sauce are a must—and can be enjoyed by the bar with an extra shot of whiskey or expertly crafted Sazerac for good measure.
A self-care oasis
And what would a grand hotel be without a wellness center? Nestled within the restored Canoe Place Inn is a beautifully appointed full-service spa created in partnership with the acclaimed ONDA Beauty Team. ONDA at Canoe Place offers exclusive new treatments including the Rejuvenating Facial and Body Bliss treatment and signature ONDA experiences like Ultimate Lift Facial and Total Wellness Massage, along with a curated collection of clean and sustainable beauty products.
Joining fellow stars that visited Canoe Place in the past as an admirer of the property, ONDA cofounder Naomi Watts shares her passion for wellness with esthetician-led facials, massages, and energy healing for guests to enjoy. “I, along with the entire ONDA team, am so thrilled to be partnering with the storied Canoe Place,” said Watts. “We’re enchanted by the history of the property and can’t wait to share it with our beloved fans.” From every angle, Canoe Place is ripe for rediscovery.