There is a place at the end of Long Island that feels like it is a thousand miles away. There must be a wormhole through which you enter and become transported to the French Riviera. I am not sure how André Balazs was able to bottle up the essence of the St. Tropez and import it to Shelter Island, but Sunset Beach succeeds and it is a masterpiece.
Sunset Beach is a fabulous hotel, but the bar and restaurant are also the best place to go for special occasions. It is the place to take your date to really wow them. The journey in getting there is part of the fun. You can only access Shelter Island by ferry or boat, so Sunset Beach feels like an exotic destination at the edge of the world.
Then there is the light at Sunset Beach. There is something about the Feng Shui of this particular piece of geography that is enchanted: the way the bay curves around the setting sun like an amphitheater, the gentle rocking of the boats in the Peconic River. The entire scene lights up at sunset and delivers on its name in a spectacular way.
The design of Sunset Beach enhances the beachy vacation vibe. The upstairs bar is tucked into a giant lantern-strung tree, adding to the whimsy of the experience. You can dine with your feet in the sand—they filled up a grown-up-sized sandbox and placed tables in it. There is a fire pit in the back for romantic canoodling. And ping-pong tables give the place a feeling of an upscale summer camp for the glamorous set.
The drinks and menu are on point as well. I always order the Grace Kelley, a light sparkling drink with something peachy and prosecco. (This seems like the appropriate choice to continue my South of France fantasy). The bar also has a house rosé, which is among the best I have tasted this summer.
As you can tell, Sunset Beach is truly one of my happy places. An evening spent here with friends becomes an essential memory etched into my mind with gilded sunset tones.
FEATURED: Sunset Beach