The Capri: A Hip Hideaway
BY SYLVIE BIGAR
PHOTOGRAPHS BY ERIC STRIFFLER
The Bathing Club
You will not find a blue grotto at the new Capri in Southampton, but you will see plenty of blue reflected around the rectangular pool, on the plush outdoor banquettes, on the racks of Cynthia Rowley’s tiny boutique, and even on the blue fin toro tartar at Nobu at Capri. You read that right: After years of rumors and false starts, the great Nobuyuki Matsuhisa has finally docked in Southampton, at least through the end of the season.
Leave traffic-heavy Route 27 behind, climb a few steps and push open the French doors of the Capri’s double-height entrance. Inside, a room in the shape of a tall, bright cube serves as a tide gate into a planet of cool and relaxed ease. If it looks vaguely familiar, it may be because co-owners David Edelstein and Jackie Mansfield worked together to create the W South Beach. Steven Kamali, another owner, is one of the founding partners of the stylish, bohemian Surf Lodge in Montauk. "What attracted me to the Capri was the opportunity to take a historical property and mold it anew, similar to what I had done with the Atlantic Terrace in Montauk,” says Mansfield. She fell in love with the distinctive layout and employed landscaping, particularly rows of trivets, to enhance the intimacy of the outdoor space.
The property sits on the north side of Montauk Highway, across from pointillist fields dotted with “pick-your-own” strawberries. “Even though the East End is really farm country, it has recently become an international stage,” says Kamali. “We want to welcome travelers but also give residents a new spot to spend time and even entertain. The hotel is open to all.”
Gentle jazz and light rock music wafts throughout the property from well-hidden speakers that envelop The Bathing Club, an outdoor lounge anchored by the pool that is perfect for socializing—or perhaps doing nothing at all. “We want people to be able to have a conversation,” says Kamali. “The music is eclectic and not obtrusive.” At night, however, DJs turn up the volume as guests and visitors sip Nobu’s creative cocktails until the wee hours. Kamali, who summered in Italy as a child, has recreated with his partners, and with the help of Meyer Davis Studio, an old-world-glamour décor reminiscent of Portofino but with a comfy slant. Visitors will find tasteful references to Palm Beach in the ’70s, or perhaps a nod to the south of France. “Today, people are looking for luxury amenities, but they want to be able to wear T-shirts and flip-flops,” says Kamali, who helped select the staff uniforms by Lacoste and Toms shoes. Rooms are cleanly and elegantly designed, like bedrooms in a perfect Hamptons summer house; sundries from Red Flower welcome guests in the bath.
“I always had great affinity for the tip of Long Island,” says Nobu partner Richie Notar, “but when I took the chefs to Montauk, it was like taking my daughter to F.A.O. Schwarz. Their eyes were twinkling.” A small kitchen delivers Nobu’s well-traveled signature dishes: ethereal petals of fluke sashimi with dried miso, tiradito Nobu style, and tender squid “pasta” served with asparagus and mushrooms. But the menu also offers more relaxed options, such as shrimp cocktail and tomato tofu with yuzu soy. Dedicated locavores can order the daily catch from the Montauk fish market.
The Capri is also home to designer Cynthia Rowley’s petite shop. “I love feeling that my two stores are like bookends on the East End,” says Rowley, who also owns a shop in Montauk. Perceiving the fashion crowd to be more conservative in Southampton, she chose a wide range of classic and non-traditional pieces for her boutique. “We have wet suits, accessories, newspapers and even candy. It’s been fun to curate our own version of a hotel shop,” she says, adding, “you can never have too many sunglasses!” Print images from her surf wear collection adorn the property and are used as murals, along with pieces from Exhibition A, the contemporary art site she cofounded. “I love to think that if people like what they see on the walls, they can purchase it.”
This is Rowley’s first collaboration with a hotel. “I feel that I am helping to create a destination with my store, the size of a hotel room,” she says. “Usually we undress in a room,” she adds with a smile, “but here at the Capri, you can actually get pretty dressed up in my little cabana.”
The Capri offers delectable moments to a hungry, style-seeking crowd. Go check it out before the carriage turns into a pumpkin, next October. 281 County Road 39A, Southampton, 504-6575