If it’s late August, and I’m within three hours of Long Island’s fabled (and glamorous) East End—which I’m apt to be as often as possible—of course I’m going to be at The Hampton Classic. But for many, looking like you were born swathed in Hermès as an equestrian blueblood may require a few appointments prior to hitting the red carpet. As one of the most revered and respected outdoor horse shows and competitions in the world, “The Classic” is not only the highbrow high point of the equine season in The Hamptons, but also puts a satin bow of refinement on the end of the posh Long Island area’s high-stakes social summer. So, whether your goal is to trot in like a show horse or arrive like you’ve already won a blue ribbon, looking good is a must. Plus, you need to feel great too! The reason? The multitude of shows and competition categories is vast and jam-packed with horses, trailers, people, cars, valets, commotion, reservations, concierges, assistants and more. Also, with Bridgehampton located in the western middle part of the Hamptons, expect—you guessed it—a lot of traffic getting there. From August 26-September 2, there are eight days of action. Many people either bookend The Hampton Classic with a pre- or post-salon and/or spa experience, or choose to arrive earlier or depart later, even staying in The Hamptons past Labor Day to really have time to get their pampering on.
First off, what I want and what’s available in The Hamptons are two different things. Yes, it’s all there—in spades. The Classic is also known as the largest black card convergence on record, meaning spa/salon availability may be scarce. So, book now! But before you do, take stock of your needs and the show schedules. Is having a pro blowout before every special dinner a requirement? Or can you extend your great coif with Oscar Blandi Dry Shampoo Invisible Spray? A lot of people like massages at the end of the day’s festivities, due to long periods of sitting and posture fatigue, but most spas are wrapping up between 6-8pm. This is where having a reputable mobile masseuse is a wonderful idea. A few options: SpaFinder.com’s Wellness App is reliable and vetted, while Zeel’s Massage On Demand app is more Hamptons-focused.
Working backward from the extreme East End is Montauk, the easternmost point on Long Island. If you’re more the spa, surf, beach and yachting type and really need a true chillax vacation, then Gurney’s Montauk is the perfect place to stay put. With its world-class, full-service spa and salon treatments and bragging rights to the only indoor ocean saltwater detox pool in the world, Gurney’s is my first choice. Americana meets the Riviera.…heaven.
Heading due west to East Hampton, The Huntting Inn, a casual/elegant spot, is beautifully preserved and has hosted some of the most powerful people on the planet. It’s also home to the fabled Palm Restaurant, where you’ll surely want to take in its prime beef and “summer lobster celebration.” It’s not to be missed. The Huntting Inn also boasts the popular wellness destination Naturopathica Healing Arts Center and Spa. Slick and modern is Naturopathica’s approach, coupled with an ancient healing philosophy. Truly results-oriented, I’d let this spa and wellness center do anything to any part of my body or face. Twice! Add in its retail teas, herbal remedies and stellar namesake skincare line, and Naturopathica may be a part of your life for some time to come. The service menu is deep and well-rounded in anti-aging protocols, from enhancing voluptuous cheekbones (LED light therapy and microcurrent) to pain management. A variety of male-focused treatments are available as well.
Now, if your Hampton Classic dance ticket is legitimately full of horse show events, you may want to call the posh Topping Rose House your temporary HQ, as you’ll be a stone’s throw from the event center. I’d want to stay there, regardless. With a perfectly appointed massage and facial spa, plus a gym, it’s also home to what could be your favorite Jean-Georges restaurant location, with a foodie haven actually right downstairs. Topping Rose is pretty much one-stop shopping. If hair and nails are the only thing keeping you from total fabulousness, dial it in or walk over to Valery Joseph Salon’s Hamptons outpost, where you’re sure to get the Madison Avenue blowout and spa manicure or event makeup you’re accustomed to—possibly on the way to the horse stadium.
If going to the beach is on your list (and it should be, at any hour, here), then I suggest you book yourself a room at the Southampton Inn, which is elegant, generous in hospitality, and provides free round-trip transport to the picturesque (public) Coopers Beach, which is a big plus here, even while the Inn’s proximity provides a robust Main Street shopping and dining experience once back in town, minutes away. Some of your best boutiques are off Jobs Lane (pronounced “Jōbz”), such as The Kevin Maple Salon, a full-service salon and day-spa lite. A few blocks over are two of my favorite haunts for beauty, glam grooming and wellness. One is 27 Hampton Salon, a full-service salon-plus, where I find the owners to be the most industry-involved in presenting top-shelf everything, including serving as hosts to top hair artisans who don’t own a Hamptons salon. It has the global know-how and just happens to prefer the beach. And a tidy, handpicked retail lineup of skincare and haircare, not to mention a bevy of assistants and staff to take care of you. Want your real, hardcore well-being taken seriously? So does Geomare Wellness Center & Spa, my other fave. You’ll know it the moment you roll up in your car. I love their use of Russian steam, endermologie (natural, connective-tissue toning and sculpting), acupuncture, reflexology and laser treatments. Short of surgery, this is the closest you’ll get to Switzerland in the Hamptons. The question poses itself: Are you going to witness horse-jumping for sport, or write a check and opt for the best in-room Shiatsu, Hampton Classic-style? Decisions, decisions… I know what I’m going to be doing—yep, the adorable horses can wait.