Have you traveled yet this summer during the pandemic? I’m hoping with this post about our recent trip to Montauk that you will see you can still get away in a very safe and social distancing way, even at a resort. My name is Carissa Gulyas and I’m a Virtuoso certified Luxury Travel Advisor at Your Wish Travel Co. This is my guest post on our recent local trip to Gurney’s Star Island and Gurney’s Seawater out in Montauk at the very end of Long Island.
At the beginning of June my husband and I decided we needed to get away as a family. Due to certain family circumstances we couldn’t go by plane, (not due to the virus), but we could try something new not far from home. Both of us had never been to Montauk and there were a couple of resorts I wanted to see and try that my agency works closely with. So, with that said we arranged our stay three weeks later at Gurney’s and LOVED every second. So much so that I think it might be one of our annual vacation spots from now on….hopefully with some family and friends next time.
Gurney’s has a great reputation and is known for beautiful, but simple accommodations, great food and of course the beaches. And who doesn’t enjoy the charm and character of Montauk Village. Since we live right across the way in Connecticut we took the Port Jefferson Ferry from Bridgeport over to L.I. and then drove an hour and a half through the beautiful Hamptons and then Montauk. Very simple and easy. Prior to booking I already had spoken to my contact for the hotel to get all of the updates and what to be aware of and felt confident of Gurney’s procedures. I highly recommend doing this before you travel and I do this for my clients to stay prepared and updated.
In Montauk, there are two Gurney’s – Gurney’s Seawater, which is oceanfront, a little bigger of a resort and a part of Virtuoso, so I get those great value added amenities for my clients – complimentary upgrade, early check in/late check out, $100 resort credit and daily breakfast for two, (which is really helpful considering Gurney’s does not include breakfast when booking a room and the food can get pricey). The second property is Gurney’s Star Island. Star Island is on Montauk Lake with a beautiful marina, a smaller resort feel and a calm beach. Here’s some pictures below to see the differences, especially with the water. The two Gurney’s are sister properties, so you can visit both properties during your stay.
Above is at Gurney’s Seawater Oceanfront. We went to visit one day and the ocean was so rough the kids couldn’t really go swimming. The waves were about 5 – 6 feet tall and even my husband had a hard time holding himself up. I think this resort is great for adults and if you have older kids that are strong swimmers and can have fun body surfing. They also have a great beach club to sit and relax and you can rent a cabana for about $500 a day, depending on when you visit.
Above is at Gurney’s Star Island – lake side. This beach, for us and our 4 and 6 year old, was absolutely perfect. They provided cabanas and chairs at no extra charge. Had kayaks, paddle boards and life preservers to use and the water was very calm. It’s a smaller beach, but never felt crowded and didn’t have a problem finding a chair during our stay. The third picture is from our deck, so I highly recommend a waterview. It is worth every extra dollar spent, instead of looking at a parking lot or onto grass.
I have some great mini clips of the marina and our room on my Facebook page here.
Upon arrival, (we got there earlier to enjoy the resort), our room wasn’t ready since they were taking extra time to prepare before the next guest, but the entire resort staff, as well as majority of guests were wearing masks when walking around the property. At the entrance, there are two employees with masks standing there just to ensure that everyone else was following the rules and also had masks on. In all public spaces you needed to wear a mask, so they were pretty strict about it. When our room was ready it looked like it had been cleaned very well. The sheets were super white, as well as the duvet cover. We inspected them carefully for any stains or marks, signifying they had not been changed, but couldn’t find any. They actually looked brand new, so we were pleased with how everything was being handled. There were sanitizer stations throughout the resort, which was handy and the tables in the restaurants were further apart from each other. I highly recommend making reservations ahead of time since they are not seating as many people with having fewer tables available. When we were there, their award winning, fine dining restaurant, ShowFish, wasn’t open yet, but was opening the following weekend for July 4th. The menu looked amazing. Just a cool factor about the resort – Gurney’s offers a BMW program. They have about 4 BMW’s to use, complimentary, while there. It’s first come, first serve and is nice to just get out in a convertible for a bit.
Above: exactly what our room looked like – plenty of space. All rooms have the same basic set up except for the view you choose and the Villas. The Villas have direct walk out access to the beach or right in front of the marina. I would say everything was very updated except for the doors, (which need to be changed, imo) and maybe a more updated AC unit. It worked fine, but seemed like an older type attached to the wall. The property also has a small outdoor pool, as well as an indoor pool. The indoor pool had A LOT of chlorine. You were not catching anything in that pool! Carter was actually sensitive to it and didn’t last long swimming. The outdoor pool was great. The attendant was super aware of everything and did a great job of cleaning things down and swapping out the towels. The chairs would fill up quickly since there weren’t as many available, but the pool never felt overcrowded and overwhelming with swimmers. We enjoyed walking around the marina and looking at all of the beautiful boats/yachts after dinner. The last picture above is having breakfast at the Pool Club – it was a little sunny that morning – hence the shades.
If you have any questions about either Gurney’s please email me. I’m happy to go in depth about the properties and their procedures during this time. I think because our kids are on the younger side we were definitely happy we chose Star Island. It catered more for them and the resort was nice and small. They loved kayaking and walking up and down the beach and finding different sea creatures and everyone was just lovely. We knew half the staff at the end of our trip. Interestingly enough, many of the staff was from Italy – you can’t mistake that accent! The food was also very good. Il Forno, which has specialty coffee’s and to go things – salads, sandwiches, stone oven pizzas, was open and very convenient. There were markers on the floors to ensure everyone stayed at least 6 feet away from each other while waiting. The staff wore masks and gloves when preparing as well. The Pool Club, which is where we ate the most, was very good and their specials for each night were just out of this world. They were so accommodating with the kids and again, each table was apart from the others in a very safe way.
Above: they were a little short on their normal desserts one night and felt bad, so they made the kids Nutella Pizza with strawberries. They obviously hated it, ha. The restaurant also had vegan strawberry ice cream and it was the best ice cream I think I have ever had! I’m still trying to find it.
Upon arrival at Gurney’s Star Island we noticed two employees wearing masks to the right of the entrance. They were there to ensure all of the guests moving about the property were also wearing masks. When we entered inside to check in there were markers on the floor on where we could stand and wait our turn. It is a small room, so some had to wait outside until it emptied out. The staff behind the desks had masks and gloves on. They already had my credit card on file, so all I had to do was sign my signature on a piece of paper.
On property, we all had to wear masks and I would say about 99% were compliant. Once you get to a table by the marina or your lounge chairs by the pool or in the restaurant you could take it off. I often saw an employee walking around and wiping down the outdoor tables by the marina, which was reassuring. By the pool, the attendant was very attentive. You would see her wipe down each lounge chair and table after a guest left and replaced the chairs with clean towels. There were less chairs by the pool and would fill up quickly, but the pool never felt overwhelmingly full of people. The indoor pool, which was only open when the outdoor pool was closed (due to rain) was pretty much empty and the pool had quite a bit of chlorine in it, so I don’t think any germs would last long after being in there.
There are three restaurants on property. Il Forno is more to go style foods and drinks and had markers on the floor as to where to stand and wait your turn. You absolutely had to have a mask on when waiting for your food or drink here or you would be asked to put one on or go outside. The employees all had masks on, as well as gloves. The Pool Club Restaurant had less tables out for more spacing between each one. The waiters and waitresses all had masks and gloves on and the tables seemed to be cleaned very thoroughly before sitting down. The third restaurant was not open at the time.
Now, for the rest of Montauk! You can’t help but notice the cute town of Montauk with all of it’s adorable shops of clothing, toys, furniture, coffee shops and of course restaurants and ice cream. There’s plenty to see and visit. There are signs up throughout the town reminding everyone to wear their masks in public spaces and it seemed like everyone was listening and taking it seriously.
We went to some great spots and restaurants too! As a recommendation from a local we went to Gosman’s for lunch. There’s actually three restaurants in one area. There’s the restaurant, which looks a little nicer and has indoor seating – they were closed when we went. Then there’s great sushi from the outdoor deck on the other side of the restaurant – you can walk across from the restaurant side or park closer. And then we ate at Gosman’s Clam Bar. You order from outside and sit at the picnic tables. What I loved about this place is that the food was really good – check out the menu and pictures. The shrimp tacos were amazing!!! The adults and the kids will stay entertained by the boats going in and out of the marina and the many birds talking to each other over the water. After you have some lunch head out to walk around the little village – even more super cute shops and ice cream stops. It’ll keep everyone busy for a good hour, hour and a half. One thing we didn’t get to, but had planned on was taking the ferry over to Block Island for the day. You can easily do this from Montauk and B.I. is so small you really don’t need a car. Just pack a bag with some towels and suntan lotion and you’re good to go.
Some other restaurants we tried were MTK Lobster House – very cute place in town. Montauk is known for their lobster, so we had to try at least one place for this. MTK Lobster House had some outdoor and indoor seating – a lot less tables than they normally have, they said. The food was great and the lobster roll was plenty filled, per my husband. For breakfast we ventured out to Mr. John’s Pancake and Steak House, which has been there for many years and has some cool pictures of celebrities visiting on the wall. It’s a local staple, so I figured we should check it out. While the pancakes were good I didn’t think they were anything special. I actually thought the resorts pancakes (from the kids order) was better. There’s also Anthony’s Pancakes, which is across the way – another staple in town, but we didn’t try it this time around. Joni’s was recommended to us, as well as Harvest. Harvest looks amazing serving all locally grown foods and looks like it’s on a farm setting. We just didn’t have enough time to get to all of them this trip, but will next time. A client of mine recommended going to Montauk Bakery and then going across the center of the roundabout, near the flagpole and just sitting on the park bench enjoying breakfast or in the gazebo – love this idea, as it sounds very relaxing and less time sitting down in a restaurant.
As for the town of Montauk – There are signs up throughout the town reminding everyone to wear their masks in public spaces and it seemed like everyone was listening and taking it seriously. The restaurants we tried also did a great job of maintaining tables 6 feet away from each other, as well as the staff wearing masks and gloves and wiping down the tables right in front us before being seated.
Another fun thing to do while there is Puff N’ Putt. While there was no puffing going on, I have to say this is probably the most creative mini golf course I had ever played on before. You also have a great view with the water right in front of you. You can rent kayaks and different water sport activities from here as well. We had so much fun playing. Carter, our 4 year old, got a hole in one – of course! It seems to be the norm for this kid. You can see he won a dollar for his hole in one.
While there are other things to enjoy in Montauk we just didn’t have enough time on this shorter getaway. I would say Montauk is doing a great job of enforcing the masks and following the right procedures for social distancing. Of course, we all have to do our own part in staying safe and healthy, but it’s reassuring to know that businesses and resorts are also taking this very seriously.
For any updates on resorts, airlines and procedures be sure to follow on Facebook and IG – @yourwishtravelco. I have many more trips coming up this year and will be writing about each of the experiences and they all involve flying! September – the USVI’s, October – Chicago, November – Disney World, December – Southern Caribbean Cruise, April 2021 – Puerto Rico and June 2021 – Sicily.
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