A Hamptons summer share isn't for everyone, and even in these flush times, it's expensive. Instead, book a beachfront palace (okay, a room) in Montauk, and you'll spend far less and wake up literally on the dunes. (And if nightlife is what you want, East Hampton's an easy fifteen-minute drive.) Whether you opt for a motel in town or seclusion outside, rates in the off-season, which runs until June 25 (not including Memorial Day weekend), are about half of peak prices, with shorter minimum stays. They even have pools, in case the ocean's still a bit too frosty for a dip. (All rates given below are per night, for two people per room.)
On the way out to Montauk, beachside Windward Shores has tennis courts and studios with full kitchens for $115 in the early season (during high season, rates start at $220). Farther along, the oceanfront Panoramic View has rooms with kitchenettes and terraces overlooking the waves. Low-season rates are from $84 per night; in high season, they start at $154. Across the street from the beach, Hartman's Briney Breezes has terrific early-season deals: $200 buys three nights in a newly renovated, kitchenette-equipped room with an ocean-view balcony. But act fast -- in July, the same rooms are $190 each night. Next door at the Beachcomber Resort, rooms have full kitchens (and the place has tennis courts). Prices start at $115 per night in the early season, and then at $190.
In town, many motels are close to or right on the beach. Our favorite is Ocean Beach Resort, where you step out of your room onto the sand (maybe with a beer from the kitchenette). Low-season rates are from $130, then from $180.
For information on smaller inns and bed and breakfasts (as well as other hotels and room availability), call the Chamber of Commerce (516-668-2428).
Windward Shores Ocean Resort (516-267-8600); Panoramic View (516-668-3000); Hartman's Briney Breezes Motel (516-668-2290); Beachcomber Resort (516-668-2894); Ocean Beach Resort (516-668-4000).
Picks of the Week
Catherine, the SoHo designer of colorful must-have embroidered sweaters, dresses, leathers, and cowboy hats, is selling stock at 50-70 percent off: three-quarter-length leather coats are $268; bright sweater sets are $124. Sizes 4-12. 137 Greene St.; A.E., M.C., V.; Thurs.-Fri. 11-8, Sat.-Sun. 10-8; 5/13-5/16.
Deveraux-Ferguson's down-filled throw pillows in styles from classic brocades to minimalist linens are usually only at stores like Bergdorf's and ABC. At the sale, they're half off: from $45 for a large cotton pillow to $150 for a trimmed silk-damask style. 304 W. 90th St., Suite 1F (362-3761); A.E.; Fri. 10-8, Sat. 9-6; 5/14-5/15.
Chelsee Eyes is clearing discontinued eyewear at 50-70 percent off and current models at 20-30 percent off (the usual American and European designers, plus hip rimless frames). Lenses are on sale, too. No eye exams. 20 W. 20th St., Suite 804; checks accepted; Mon.-Fri. 10-5, evenings and Saturdays by appointment; 5/10-5/31.
MaxMara's luxury womenswear (pictured, below) is more than half off at the company sale. Prices are from $90 for pants and knits to $175 for jackets to $325 for pantsuits. Sizes 2-14. Parsons School of Design, second floor; 560 Seventh Ave., at 40th St.; A.E., M.C., V.; Mon.-Thurs. 9-6:30; 5/10-5/13.
ALWAYS A DEAL
Sarong, So Right
For a knot-and-go wrap skirt that doubles as a beach coverup, sift through bins of Indonesian-import batik sarongs at Equator, the Balinese-teak-furniture shop. The four-by-five-foot cotton swatches come in a variety of traditional prints and tons of color combinations. The hard part is picking your favorite -- although at $20 apiece, a sarong for each bikini isn't out of the question.
98 Greene St. (219-3708).