New hotel opens during the pandemic: A stay at The Roundtree on Long Island

Amagansett, New York (CNN) — In the better of circumstances, opening a hotel tends to be a tense and money-draining endeavor for any proprietor, to not point out dangerous.

Opening a property in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, nevertheless, has the potential to unnerve even the most stouthearted businessperson, throwing well-laid plans into whole upheaval.

Enter Sylvia Wong, who was making ready for a May 2020 opening of The Roundtree, her brand-new, 15-room property in the tony city of Amagansett, New York.

Located in the coronary heart of the Hamptons, The Roundtree was well-situated for fast success — a brand new design-centric providing in considered one of the costliest and chicest summer time seashore destinations.

“I was very worried about opening during a pandemic, but there was no choice except to go forward and bring my vision to life,” she says.

Owner Sylvia Wong on The Roundtree grounds on Long Island.

Courtesy The Roundtree Amagansett

Just do it

Wong’s choice to proceed with the debut is an particularly daring transfer contemplating that is her first hotel enterprise.

Originally from Hong Kong and now dwelling in New York, she’s a companion at the funding agency WTI, which has lengthy been concerned in actual property offers. After a number of a long time of touring internationally for enterprise and pleasure, she turned an increasing number of occupied with opening her personal hotel, though she wasn’t set on the place.

One day in spring of 2019, she was shopping actual property listings on-line and examine a hotel on the market in the Hamptons known as Gansett Green Manor.

“Next thing I know, I took the [Hampton] Jitney from the city to the Hamptons to see the property that week and knew it was the place for me,” says Wong. “It was like a hidden gem in a beautiful area.” (The property was funded by WTI.)

Historical context

The Roundtree started accepting visitors on June 1, a date when New York was nonetheless formally in lockdown and a month after its authentic supposed opening.

Set on two acres of land a few mile from the seashore, the property has a wealthy historical past relationship again to the 17th century. The website was residence to considered one of the founding households of Amagansett in addition to a working farm.

Buildings characterize the space’s storied previous, with a cottage that is greater than 250 years outdated and a fundamental constructing that is near 125 years outdated.

Wong fully renovated the hotel whereas protecting the authentic buildings intact and gave it a brand new title.

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Plenty of open areas make social distancing at The Roundtree a snap.

Courtesy The Roundtree Amagansett

Checking in

The Roundtree is the first hotel I’ve stayed in since February and the first time I’ve slept anyplace apart from my Manhattan residence since early March, earlier than the pandemic. I wasn’t positive of what to anticipate.

My journey to the Hamptons coincided with a weekend when out of doors eating was allowed once more in its jurisdiction of Suffolk County, and most of the inns in the space had been open and in full swing for the summer time season.

In truth, by Sunday of the similar weekend, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, upon receiving hundreds of complaints of social distance violations in the Hamptons, warned that he would shut down companies that did not play by the guidelines.

I noticed individuals out and about, however most everybody wore masks, and tables at eating places had been spaced greater than six toes aside.

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The 15 rooms are all accessed from the open air.

Courtesy The Roundtree Amagansett

Minor variations

My query going into the weekend was: How a lot completely different would my stay be in contrast with the a whole bunch of instances I’ve stayed at inns throughout the world earlier than?

Not a lot, because it turned out. In a world the place the phrase “the new normal” has turn into ubiquitous, it virtually felt like the outdated regular.

The workers wore masks, and visitors had been required to do the similar once they had been inside. The supervisor took my temperature upon check-in, a compulsory step for all visitors.

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The keychains are an instance of The Roundtree’s consideration to element

Courtesy The Roundtree Amagansett

Other than that, it was like a stay at an upscale boutique hotel with wonderful service and an ambiance of being at a treasured good friend’s residence who goes out of her solution to be hospitable and has unbelievable style.

New protocols, homey touches

The aesthetic is minimalistic fashionable and consists of loads of modern artwork from Wong’s international travels.

Plus, facilities similar to the minibar, snacks, afternoon tea, night S’mores, breakfast and laundry for beachwear are included in the room worth, and visitors get free use of bikes, seashore chairs, umbrellas, seashore toys and seashore baggage and towels. Luxurious, sure, however in an understated approach.

But for Wong and her workers, providing high-touch service whereas adhering to protocols is not fairly as simple as my go to was.

“I had to make several changes to comply with the new health standards and social distancing restrictions,” she says.

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Common indoor areas are ethereal.

Courtesy The Roundtree Amagansett

The value of doing enterprise

Those adjustments meant extra money: Wong will not disclose how a lot she spent on renovating The Roundtree (the property itself value $6.1 million to purchase) however says that adapting to protocols value 15% greater than her preliminary funding.

Take breakfast, for instance. The morning meal was going to be a buffet the place visitors may assist themselves, however a self-service buffet will increase the danger of a doubtlessly sick particular person infecting the meals and thereby different visitors.

Now, Wong has additional workers on her morning shift who convey objects to tables. And as a substitute of hiring a workers of eight, she needed to rent 12. “We need more manpower to deal with the extra work involved,” she says.

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You’ll discover clear strains and many brilliant gentle in the guestrooms at The Roundtree.

Courtesy The Roundtree Amagansett

Wash and go

Other adjustments embody detachable slipcovers on the couches in visitor rooms which can be washed after each check-out. Guests even have entry to a mini Upang sterilizer that disinfects objects that each one of us generally use similar to pens, computer systems, telephones and books.

In addition, the workers disinfects surfaces in visitor rooms and in public areas steadily. They additionally clear bikes and seashore gear together with toys, umbrellas, chairs and baggage after each visitor use, which is labor intensive.

Wong deliberate to have a seashore shed the place visitors borrow and return this stuff, however now, workers convey them upon request.

Spacial relations

There are just a few facets of the opening which have labored in Wong’s favor.

The property’s format is an enormous boon for training social distancing, for one, as a result of the 15 rooms are unfold out amongst six buildings, and the entry for every room is on the outdoors — visitors do not ever should stroll in a hallway.

And since Wong’s workers hadn’t been educated but, she did not have to speculate additional money and time to retrain them on hospitality in wake of Covid-19. “They learned about the hotel and health and safety protocols at the same time,” she says.

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Private areas abound round the property.

Courtesy The Roundtree Amagansett

If Wong had any doubts about whether or not individuals would wish to stay in a hotel as soon as lockdown restrictions eased, they’re gone now. The property is sort of absolutely booked by way of August with a number of of the stays spanning two weeks or extra.

“It’s shocking in a good way how great business has been,” says Wong. “It has been my dream to open a hotel that had elements of all of my favorite hotels around the world, and to see it become a reality during a pandemic is that much more gratifying.”

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