Montauk, NY, used to be considered the un-Hamptons of the Hamptons, a laidback surfing town with an Irish fishing village heritage. With the emergence of three of the biggest hot spots on the East End (Crow’s Nest, Surf Lodge and Navy Beach), its sleepy reputation may well be a thing of the past. If you visit Montauk after Labor Day on a warm September weekend like we did, the scene has died down but the sun and sand are just as hot. We stayed right on a spectacular stretch of beach (yes, the one that’s pictured above) at the Panoramic View resort.
Just as Montauk is experiencing a push and pull between the old and the new, so is the Panoramic View resort. It opened 53 years ago and soon became a family favorite as its 114 “rooms” include a mix of studios, one-bedrooms, two-bedrooms and even beach cottages — that all come with kitchens and gorgeous ocean views.
Then in 2007, Distinctive Ventures bought the property and is slowly turning it into a luxury development of condops (co-ops with a condo plan), taking advantage of the prime oceanfront location to command premium prices. Right now, 50 hotel rooms remain (including three cottages) and 20 new residential units have been built, 12 of which have been sold. Both hotel guests and condop owners (and their montly renters) use the same beach and pool facilities.
The old (hotel) and new (condop) structures co-exist on the property just fine —above right is Salt Sea, a beachfront condop building. You can see the hotel building — Valley View — where we stayed just behind it, and even better in the picture on the left.
Our hotel room (right) was spacious but quaint, as the hotel has not been renovated (it will just be torn down eventually to make way for the condos) although it is well-maintained. While not fancy, the room’s seaside-y decor and crisp white linens were very tasteful. There wasn’t any wifi though, which was actually felt like a welcome break for once.
To see how the other side lives, we took a tour of one of the model condops. This two-bedroom condop (left) has the “wow factor” with a “wow” price tag to match — $2.8 million asking price, with actual sales hitting closer to $2.2 million, they told us. There are larger units too — up to five bedrooms. Not only are the fixtures gorgeous, but there are two levels of terraces overlooking the ocean, one of which has a hot tub. Owners enjoy hotel-type service, with a concierge, housekeepers and other staff, onsite year-round.
We spent most of our stay at the Panoramic View sitting (and sometimes strolling) on the beach, where beach chairs and towels are provided. As it’s located a few miles outside of town on Old Montauk Highway (next to the famous Gurney’s Inn), you need a car to take advantage of Montauk’s restaurants, bars and shops but not for the beach. Having a beach just a downhill walk from your room is terrific during high season because you don’t have to deal with the traffic, parking and fees to use Montauk’s famous beaches. In the low season, well, we were just as glad to have our room only minutes away.
Our dining experiences in Montauk also represented a balance of old and new. On Saturday, before we even checked into the hotel, we drove to one of the furthest points of the East End to have lobster rolls for lunch atGosman’s Dock (pictured left), a Montauk institution since 1947. That night, we went to East by Northeast (or ENE as the locals call it). Located on Fort Pond, this chic restaurant serves Asian-influenced New American fare — think Peking duck tacos. We loved listening to the acoustic guitar player in the bar/lounge while we waited for our table. The porch was quite a scene, too.
The next morning, it was back to old-school Montauk as we ate French toast for breakfast at Anthony’s Pancake and Waffle House on Main Street. After we spent some more time at the beach marveling at our luck with the September weather, we drove back to New York City. The traffic from Montauk to South Hampton was quite slow (picking up a little bit after that), so apparently we weren’t the only ones taking advantage of the Indian Summer. Ah, one of the few things better than a summer weekend is a bonus, last-gasp-of-summer weekend spent on a beautiful Montauk beach.
Comped but Never Compromised: I was a guest of the Panoramic View resort, but I am free to write whatever I want.