Shore Losers

Even die-hards will admit that the Hamptons have had a string of bad luck these past few years. There was that incident at Conscience Point, there was Ira Rennert, and, more recently, a few too many sloppy sightings of Tara Reid. “There’s been a curse on the Hamptons,” adman-restaurateur Jerry Della Femina concedes, so much so that it has become hip to hate them. But what Hamptons haters don’t realize, the loyal say, is that all that mess has actually been a ploy to shake out the weak. Says a TV producer with a house in Bridge, speaking for all of us: “We encourage them to go.” So why can’t the Catskills compete?

The Water
“I’m in touch with my inner Jackie Mason—as a child, I went to the Concord with my parents—but for me, saltwater talks. When I think of going upstate, I just think of some sludgy-bottomed lake that people are trying to convince themselves they really like.” —Jonathan Adler, Potter

“Being from England, where the beaches might most charitably be described as ruggedly beautiful, in the Hamptons there is always the wonder of an endless beach of pale sand and a sea that is every shade of blue.” —Miranda Morrison, Co-Designer-Owner, Sigerson Morrison Shoes

“The Hamptons is the only place you can combine deep sea fishing and boys. Even in winter, the surfers perform for you.” —Barbara Kopple, Filmmaker

The Food
“If you go to the Catskills, no one even knows what arugula is!” —Kathleen King, Owner, Tate’s Bake Shop

“One of the charms of the Hamptons is that the food is great. It’s not an insignificant thing, given that the whole point of vacationing is to indulge.” —Andre Balazs, hotelier

“I can’t deal with the town store and the wilted lettuce. I love fresh mozzarella and really fresh fish, and I’m a really big restaurant person. There’s this shack in Montauk I go where the lobster roll is just this orgasm … you can’t find stuff like that in the Catskills.”—jeff klein, hotelier “I do a lot of cooking, and the fish in the Hamptons is as good as it gets anywhere. You’re not going to find a lot of fresh ocean fish in the Catskills—trust me on this.” —Pamela Fiori, Editor-In-Chief, Town & Country

The People
“The culture of the Sag Harbor–East Hampton area incorporates people of all backgrounds and experiences—it’s a real community. I wouldn’t trade it for the world!” —Star Jones, Co-host, The View

“Even if you chose to not see anyone, it’s nice to know you can.” —Reed Krakoff, Creative Director, Coach

“How often can you raise over a million dollars for charity in the Catskills? They’re not as equipped to make other people happy.” —Russell Simmons, Def Jam Records

“There’s a big misconception that the Hamptons is one big party playground. But personally, I spend a lot of time at home with my family and friends. And the people out here are so nice!” —Lizzie Grubman, Publicist

“Sag Harbor is like living in a Norman Rockwell painting, but there’s more diversity out here than you’d think. There’s a big black community, a gay community. And the celebrities! They’re just like us: Their names are all in the phone book.” —Scott Weiss, Harpoon Realty

The Amenities
“In the Hamptons, I get to be my Birkenstock-wearing, Joni Mitchell–loving, dream-weavin’ pottery self, but I also get to buy luxury goods. There’s nothing to buy in the Catskills—and if there’s nothing to buy, what’s the point?” —Jonathan Adler

“Services out here are terrific: You can get manicures and pedicures by your pool. You can have all the luxuries while still pretending you’re in the middle of nowhere.”—alison brod, publicist “If it’s raining in the Hamptons, you can actually do something you might do if you were in the city, like shop. But if it rains in the Catskills … ” —Reed Krakoff

The Energy
“I had a house in the Hudson area about twenty years ago. If I didn’t want to see anybody, I would go there. But I became a recluse. And I hate to say it, but I think the locals didn’t really like my hair or my style of dress.” —Betsey Johnson, Designer

“The Catskills are nice if you are hiding out from the police. I really believe that either Osama bin Laden or Saddam Hussein is hiding out in the Catskills. They have 50 acres each. The reason you can get 50 acres cheap is because nobody goes there. There’s nothing that they have, frankly, except for peace and quiet—and quiet and quiet and quiet.” —Jerry Della Femina

“I tried the Catskills once, but I don’t remember it very well: I fell asleep a lot.” —Dan Rattiner, Editor-In-Chief, Dan’s Papers

And Finally: The Staying Power
“In 1994, we sold our house in East Hampton and bought an idyllic house, with horses, cows, and sheep. But after two years, I realized I was never going to be a milkmaid. And I felt old. People ask why did we come back, and we say: ‘We had to!’ ” —Pamela Fiori

“We’ve seen this before. People say, ‘We’re leaving the Hamptons, it’s getting too crowded, we’re buying a house in the Catskills.’ It takes about five years—and then they’re back.” —Anna Pump, Owner, Loaves And Fishes

“There’s no comparison between the Hamptons and the Catskills— we’re talking heaven and hell!” — Betsey Johnson, Designer

Shore Losers