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JUST BACK: The Hamptons

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Just back from a perfectly beachy Hamptons weekend, and you sure wouldn't know there was an economic crisis looming in the real world.

In East Hampton, everyone's buzzing about the imminent reopening of the Blue Parrot, a beloved Mexican joint that closed a couple years back. Rumor has it that a star-studded lineup of investors--Ronald Perelman, Larry Gagosian, Renée Zellweger, and Jon Bon Jovi, no less--are backing the restaurant. Meanwhile, just down Main Street, a number of pop-up shops have sprung up for the season, including Hermès (No. 63) and Michael Kors (No. 48).

200906-b-elephantjpgI was also invited to a lovely luncheon to celebrate this season's opening of the LongHouse Reserve (above, right), a museum on the estate of the legendary textiles designer Jack Lenor Larsen. Even though I've been summering in the Hamptons for 15-odd years (I've lost track), I'd never been to the LongHouse before--which is a sin because this is one of those secret discoveries that makes the Hamptons so special. The 16-acre reserve is covered with gardens, reflecting pools, and impressive installations by everyone from Willem de Kooning to Eric Fischl. At the luncheon, I also got the pleasure of meeting Larsen and discussing our mutual love of Southeast Asia; the 82-year-old designer and I both recently got back from Cambodia (more on that soon).

200906-b-reform-exteriorjpgLast year's big hotel opening was the Surf Lodge, in Montauk, which became more of a nightclub than a place to get a good night's sleep. This year's new properties promise to be much more low key. One of my favorite restaurants, the Meeting House, in Amagansett, is opening a hotel nearby: the Reform Club Inn, a charming little hideaway with just seven suites and three cottages. Back in East Hampton, the Maidstone Arms has dropped "Arms" from the name (as well as its formerly fusty look). I'm not so sure about the hotel's peculiar new name, c/o The Maidstone, but I love the pared-down look (Josef Frank couch here, Svenskt Tenn fabrics there). The hotel's restaurant, the Living Room, also has a Scandinavian flavor.

For more hotel ideas, check out the current issue of T+L, where I answered a question from a reader about affordable places to stay.

Laura Begley is Travel + Leisure's deputy editor.

Photos courtesy of Jonathan Bloom (LongHouse Reserve) and the Reform Club Inn.

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