People love to meet in the Hamptons, Long Island's wealthy playground comprising 24 villages and hamlets that face the sea and sand dunes along the island's eastern tip. That's because Hamptons venues give off a most singular vibe: It's affluent but relaxed and rather glittery. Hamptons catering services, florists, entertainment bookers, boutiques, and spas are among the best making it a fantastic area for smart meeting planners to find high quality.
Lying some 90 miles from New York City, but easily accessible by train or jitney, this area is ideal for corporate retreats or regional meetings. Among leisure activities, include people-watching for well-known actors, musicians, artists and financiers as a given, but beach walks, art gallery hopping and sandcastle team building are also essential Hamptons activities.
Groups of up to 400 looking for well-regarded Hamptons meeting venues can find comfortable meeting space at Gurney's Inn Oceanfront Conference Center in Montauk. Mid-sized groups might choose the Southampton Inn, which has 90 sleeping rooms, all unique, and a ballroom that fits 250 for a reception; or the similarly sized Montauk Yacht Club — or Montauk Manor Resort, with condominium-style lodgings and meeting space for up to 70.
Cultural venues in the Hamptons are also event venues. East Hampton's Guild Hall rents out its 360-seat auditorium with HD digital and analog projection capabilities, not to mention a Steinway grand piano. Receptions can be held in the courtyard or in the Guild Hall Museum. The Parrish Art Museum in Southampton offers gallery tours and education. Its new building under construction in Water Mill will greatly expand the gallery space and special event options; it is projected to open in 2012. Other interesting Hamptons event venues include two local vineyards, Duckwalk and Wolffer Estate.
Getting outdoors in the Hamptons can take a surprising turn. Activities run from fishing (some charter boats accommodate up to 16 passengers) to a day at Deep Hollow Ranch (Montauk), which calls itself America's oldest cattle ranch and the birthplace of the American cowboy. Golf options include the Sebonack Golf Club and Shinnecock Hills in Southampton, and the just-restored Robert Trent Jones Sr. course at Montauk Downs, all top-rated courses. The 4,000-square-foot clubhouse there, with wraparound verandahs, is available for meetings of up to 190 people.
Shoppers will want free time to sample the chi-chi boutiques and high-style shops where designer goods are sometimes to be found at nice little discounts.