Sylvia Wong will celebrate the first anniversary of the opening of The Roundtree, Amagansett, a 15-room boutique hotel in the Hamptons, Long Island on June 1. It is Wong’s first venture into hotels, and what a baptism of fire it has been. She never could have imagined she’d be opening a hotel in a global pandemic.
A Peaceful and Restorative Setting
Wong, who also has a full-time job as a partner in a private investment firm in New York City where she lives with her husband and child, was inspired to open a hotel by her love of travel. After searching for premises, she landed on the Gansett Green Manor Hotel set on a serene two-acre farmstead that dates back to the 1700s in The Hamptons.
She fell in love with the lush, tranquil setting surrounded by green fields and farmlands. It has a long history and was where one of the first four European families who arrived in Amagansett settled. “There are so many great hotels in the Hamptons, but I was seeking something serene and intimate that feels like home,” commented Wong. She bought the property in 2019.
After quickly closing down the existing hotel, she started renovating to ensure it would be ready to reopen in late Spring the following year, ready for the peak season. Then the pandemic hit, and the world turned upside down.
As hotels are regarded as essential businesses, Wong knew they could still open. Despite the risk, she was determined to bring her vision to life and pushed ahead to complete the renovations on schedule. Her main consideration was how to keep guests and the team safe. “We had to adapt to the situation, so we did things like put sanitizing machines in each room and had slipcovers made for the sofas,” said Wong.
Off to a Shaky Start
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“On the first night, we didn’t have a single reservation,” remarks Wong. “No one was traveling because of the uncertainty, and the hotel was new.” Slowly, guests started to trickle in, and the word began to spread. She was soon busy welcoming couples and families looking for somewhere they could socially distance themselves but still feel like they were at home. “One of our first guests was so impressed by his experience that he came back the following weekend with more people,” said Wong. Others who initially booked for two days extended their stay, while some families stayed for a month at a time.
A Place to Relax
The Roundtree can accommodate up to 40 guests in rooms that all have separate access. It includes five private cottages, some with three bedrooms, which are a huge draw for families. You can also bring pets. Wong kept the original buildings to retain the character of the property but has transformed it into a boutique hotel, incorporating many of the touches she loves in the hotels she stays in. Chic interiors are light and airy and feature a simple, modern aesthetic and neutral colors. There is a focus on the quality and finish with custom-made furniture made for each room, ceramic accents made in Bali, and sumptuous Frette linens.
Despite being right off Amagansset’s busy Main Street, the grounds are serene and quiet. You’ll often find kids running around the huge lawn while their parents do Zoom calls at one of the tables or take a nap in a hammock. There are complimentary bikes that you can ride to Atlantic Beach or Indian Wells Beach.
While there is no proper kitchen, continental breakfast is served and guests get takeout or eat out for lunch and dinner. The hotel has partnered with local restaurants and will pick up food orders, which they can plate for guests and serve in the main house by the fire or in the yard.
According to Wong, offering warm, authentic service is at the forefront of everything they do. She stayed on the property for the first few months and was so intent on creating the best experience for her guests that she slept in every room. They also have a high staff to guest ratio.
Besides little extras like s’mores by the firepit and afternoon tea, guests have the opportunity to enhance their stay by getting a deeper knowledge of the area, whether it’s a private tour of a nearby vineyard, a guided historical tour of the Hamptons in a chauffeur-driven car, or a cooking lesson from a local chef. The hotel is also partnering with an electric car company that will take guests to the beach.
Perhaps it’s not surprising that the hotel, which has seen high occupancy rates and was booked out for many weekends during the winter months, has had considerable success, given people were desperate to get out of New York City under lockdown. The Roundtree provides the ideal escape because it feels like a second home with plenty of outdoor space, but has the hospitality and service of a luxury hotel. It is also a place where people can take a breath and destress.
Wong has faced many unpredictable hurdles to get the hotel to where it is today and has had to continually adapt to meet the needs of guests. But, despite the challenges, she says she would do it all over again.
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