Helicopters, Housewives, and Mylar Balloons: Hamptons Problems Are Back

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    Helicopters, Housewives, and Mylar Balloons: Hamptons Problems Are Back

    Shhh. You hear that? It’s the quiet of the skies during the pandemic. Don’t get used to it because you—and I should reveal here that I’m talking to those perma-vacationers out east in the beautiful Hamptons, the knobby right elbow on the side of New York City—are about to feel the shake, rattle, and rock of the sky choppers. They’re revving up for an explosive summer season. 

    The Memorial Day weekend crowds, which have always booked at a “tremendous” rate, according to Lee Gold, the director of media relations for helicopter, jet, and seaplane charter Blade, are looking slightly different this year. People are hightailing it out east up from New York City but also, unusually for this time of year, Los Angeles. 

    “Hollywood in the Hamptons is usually an August phenomenon,” Gold said. “I’ve never seen them there so early.” 

    Of course when a little island’s population swells there are some growing pains, but the thing about Hamptons problems is that the more things change, the more they stay the same. We’re talking about the battle between the sky people and the ground people, a war waged over many years now.

    Since the pandemic ushered in remote work for those second-home owners out east, Gold said helicopter traffic has become more of a weeklong event, rather than being clustered around weekends and holidays. The fact that it’s more spread out or even reduced overall hasn’t stopped those committed to stopping it. Sure, the pandemic brought some relief in a manner of speaking, but the people who aren’t flying to their vacation homes remain frustrated. Down below they are absolutely throttled by the noise of low-flying aircraft. Their glassware shakes. The racket is constant. Their daughters can’t shower outside! 

    There are, of course, ways to get to the Hamptons without a helicopter. You can go by car, an idea that everyone with a share house seems to have. By Jitney (it’s a bus!), but then you’re just in a big car sitting pretty on pavement, waiting and waiting for that gin martini at the end of Sunrise Highway. We won’t even mention the rail system that bypasses traffic because how dare. 

    But for some the best option, and thus the only option, is by sky. The local airport is truly for the 1 percenters, in that less than 1% of those visiting East Hampton come via said airport, according to a consulting firm the town hired to evaluate the situation. Some who arrive at the East Hampton Airport don’t even stay in East Hampton, this firm found. Sometimes they go to Southampton and spend their buckaroos there! Some go to Sag Harbor even. It’s chaos! 

    The firm also found that over three months last summer, there was a 35% decrease in total flights, while noise complaints went down 41% (although complaints over land planes went up 15%). For a brief moment in time, the good folks, the folksy folks, of East Hampton had some reprieve, and there are those who would like to keep it that way. 

    Reprieve could be on the horizon, after the summer season, when a long-term agreement between the town and the Federal Aviation Administration is up. There is a chance the town could shut down the airport and turn it into a park, among other options, according to a recent report. And then the whirlybirds and private planes carrying precious cargo from some of New York’s finest hedge funds would have to touch down elsewhere on the island. 

    Gold emphasized that Blade wants to work with the town to avoid this option—whether the solution be flight curfews or of a more creative kind. “We recently went public, and the capital we raised has been earmarked for quiet electric and emission-free aircraft,” he said. “These are absolutely silent on takeoff and landing from East Hampton. We placed an order between two manufacturers, and the deliveries are supposed to start in 2024.”

    So, people of the east, simply white-knuckle it until then, and for now let the glassware shake. 

    It’s going to be an exceptional summer season otherwise. The first indication is that it all started very early this year. In the middle of May, per Page Six, Matt Lauer, a man living quietly enough since his unceremonious firing from the Today show, surfaced at a Bon Jovi concert alongside his publicist girlfriend, Shamin Abas, at the Clubhouse in East Hampton. Jimmy Buffett was there too. Doesn’t this sound like just the right pre-unofficial start to summer, coming before the official unofficial start that is Memorial Day weekend? 

    You won’t see Luann de Lesseps, countess of Real Housewives of New York. She’s traveling during the pandemic reprieve. Her house is up for rent, a little late in the season, but with Page Six (and now VF.com) advertising the rental, surely it’ll get snapped up soon. Just $100,000 for July, $110,000 for August, or $200,000 for both.

    That kind of cost could be part of he above mentioned growing pains happening out east as the housing market heats up, as it has nearly everywhere. Sure, some of MAGA world’s more recognizable faces have decamped to hot-as-Hades South Florida for good, but that hasn’t preened the crop entirely. Page Six reported that certain hotspots are already packed with your Candace Bushnells and Donna Karans. And it’s not just real estate inflation. Blade, too, is seeing a willingness to pay more. “Our higher-price products like Blade Ultra—that goes up to $1,495 a seat—those are selling out. And typically that was just a very high-end, limited product,” Gold said. The whole tony tip of the island is tonier than ever. 

    The most disconcerting thing of all, however, is that the Surf Lodge in Montauk says that it’s growing up, or rather will serve a “grown-up version” of its usual fare, where the Casamigos flows and certain dance floor antics can get once written up in the local tabloids. It’s focusing on “wellness” with a slate of meditation and fitness programming. “Given what the world has endured this past year, now more than ever, I strongly believe there needs to be an added emphasis on health, both physical and mental,” Jayma Cardoso, the Surf Lodge’s owner, said in a press release. It all contradicts the hedonistic mentality that’s been building and building among our nation’s hot and vaccinated youth, but we’re happy for the place.

    Published at Thu, 27 May 2021 17:08:18 +0000

    https://www.vanityfair.com/style/2021/05/helicopters-housewives-and-mylar-balloons-hamptons-problems-are-back