Vacation Update: Recession, Recovery & Stratification

Overall, its been pretty quiet for a vacation week. My favorite anecdotal economic indicator? How difficult is it to make a left hand turn on a holiday weekend. (Pretty easy this year). Even family and friends who visited for the long weekend and returned home to White Plains from our house Monday took less than 2 hours for the trip. Five years ago, that was a minimum 3 1/2 hour drive.

The near wealthy, the up & comers, and the wannabes are not playing in the dunes the way they used to. Gee, I wonder why that is?

Out here in the playground of the rich and famous, the schism between the two Americas is about as clear as one can ever see.

The slowing economic growth may be what most people are focusing on, but the brutally apparent trend here is on luxe spending. Conspicuous consumption may have had its setbacks the past few years, but its on full display out here.

We went to several very nice, quite pricey restaurants. In Quogue, the Stone Creek Inn on Tuesday night at 8:30 was jammed. The parking lot was a teenage boy’s wet dream: Bentley GTs, Maserati Quattroportes, Ferrari SuperAmerica (dude, what was with that ugly gray?). Out here, 911s are de rigeur, and MB S550s are cars you give the nannies; they all get parked in the back. The restaurant was filled with beautiful people wearing designer clothes, oodles of jewelry (middle aged white guys should never use the word bling).

Oh, and  w a y  t o o much plastic surgery — everyone had a kinda surprised look on their faces.

On Wednesday night, Starr Boggs in Westhampton Beach was  jammed. It was a different crowd — more family, less “fabulousness.” Perhaps it had something to do with their prix fixe only menu (Sun, Tue, Wed) — both joints are 5 stars, but Starr Boggs cost about half of Stone Creek, where I didn’t get the sense that anyone ordered from the prix fixe menu.

Hampton Bay’s Canal Cafe, which could very well have the best Lobster Roll on Long Island, was also jamming. The hostess said there was a 2 and a half hour wait on Wednesday night (we went for a no-wait lunch twice). I found it particularly notable that the mid-line restaurants were only half filled; the action was all higher end places.

At East End Jet Ski, the girl who worked there said they had been reasonably busy. BTW, if you are thinking about dropping $5,000 on a waverunner, spend $75. Its great fun for a half hour, but I am less sure I would want to spend a summer on one . . .

Regardless, whatever disinclination to spend the wealthy may have had in 2008 and early 2009, it has been banished here.

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