If you’re visiting the North Fork to escape the concrete jungle of Manhattan, what is it you most yearn for on the 90-mile trek out east?
Some may dream of a crisp glass of local wine or a deep breath of fresh, rural air. Perhaps a tray of briny oysters, just shucked. Grass — or sand — beneath their feet.
The latter is what Southold resident Jonathan Tibett looks forward to most, and capturing that feeling is part of the inspiration behind The Shoals, a new hospitality venture by Tibett and his partners; the same group that operates the North Fork Table & Inn and Southold General.
“We are so blessed to have this,” Tibett said on a recent tour of the property, admiring the Peconic Bay from the hotel’s main lounge. Bathed in light, its large windows offer panoramic views of the bay and the hotel’s namesake: a sandbar that juts out across the shallows.
The group of investors purchased the former Heron Suites and transformed the property with modern updates and refreshed interiors that reinvigorate the space and pay homage to a storied history.
“Our common spaces on the property allow our guests to kick off their shoes and plant their feet firmly into the grass,” Tibett explained, the “ultimate” feeling of relaxation and belonging.
After more than a year of extensive renovations to the property, the Shoals is set to make its official debut this summer. We were among the first to get a look at the renovated property. Here’s what you need to know.
Nautical history meets modern New England from the second you pull into the property. You’re greeted by a sweeping vista of Peconic Bay and a 17-foot totem, “The Rise of Mars,” by acclaimed Italian sculptor Oriano Galloni. The towering sculpture was inspired by ship masts that surround the property at two adjacent marinas.
Native grass plantings line the main boardwalk that provides access to the cedar-shingled guest suites and main reception area. “We set out to create a space that was sophisticated yet unpretentious,” Tibett said.
Spacious and airy, each of the 20 guest suites comes equipped with its own kitchenette with a sink, coffee machine, fridge, kitchenware and breakfast nook.
Whereas some coastal-inspired spaces can feel uninviting and starkly white, the spaces and furniture designed by architect Thomas Juul-Hansen evoke the same vibe without using traditional, ‘literal’ décor.
Natural materials, light wood and linens create a laid-back yet sophisticated feeling and small details like privacy curtains, lighting beneath king-sized beds and luxury Malin + Goetz bath products set the scene for a calming, rejuvenating stay.
The spaces all have a large sofa that can provide additional sleeping space and either a private terrace or balcony. The suites are available in four layouts, the largest of which features two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a full kitchen and four-person dining table.
Guests aren’t just encouraged to soak up views of the Peconic Bay — they’re expected to get out and explore it on the hotel’s vintage 28-foot Chris-Craft boat, which will act as a shuttle to private beaches, nearby restaurants and other trips.
“During the summer months from dawn until dusk, you can see the movement of boats and sails in front of our marina and beyond,” said Johnny Donadic, another partner on the project. He said getting to explore the area aboard the charter is an “incredibly unique” experience.
Back on land, there are bicycles available for daily use or you can sign up for a dockside yoga class, picnic or stargazing session. There’s an outdoor fire pit and private outdoor shower area to rinse off after exploring sand and surf.
The Lounge is also equipped with a full bar and grand piano and available for private events.
STEP INTO HISTORY
The property’s history — once home to the Southold Fish Market and a bait and tackle shop — is informing its future.
“It was a busy, bustling corner of the Peconic Bay where fishermen would boat to at 6 a.m., tie up to a slip and buy their supply of hooks, rigs and bait for the day,” Donadic said. The hotel’s gift shop area, appropriately titled the ‘Bait Shop,’ will continue providing provisions and branded gear.
Tibett, who describes himself and his partners as local history buffs, said it was important to “reinvigorate the working waterfront,” which has dwindled on the North Fork.
The Little Ram Oyster Company has finally found a home on land in a building once known as the ‘Shuck Shack’ once occupied by oyster farmers and scallop harvesters.
“Dozens of locals would shuck and clean oysters and scallops to supply restaurants throughout Long Island and New York City,” Donadic explained.
Little Ram owners Elizabeth Peeples and Stefanie Bassett seized the opportunity to move their operations to the site.
“We’ve heard stories that a lot of women actually worked out of here, trying to earn some extra money as a second job,” Bassett said. “They’d come during scallop season, the baymen would drop off their scallops and they’d shuck, shuck, shuck.”
The renovated space will also house their kitchen area, where Bassett and Peeples plan to serve dishes like smoked oysters, baked oysters and chowder.
Outside on the grassy lawn, the Shoals Food Truck will also serve summer classics like lobster rolls, soft serve ice cream and bento boxes by chef François Payard.
Little Ram will host a takeover every Wednesday evening, turning the truck into a shuck truck for a craveable happy hour that’s incentive enough to visit.
They’ll also offer farm tours and shucking workshops, allowing participants to get their hands dirty and see the operation up close. “The important thing for us is to really focus in on this space for anyone who’s coming down to buy oysters and make it really experiential,” Peeples said.
Situated on the Peconic Bay overlooking Shelter Island, The Shoals bills itself as a hybrid “boatel” accessible by car, train and boat. The marina has 20 private slips.
HOW TO BOOK
The Shoals is located at 61600 Main Road in Southold. Rates start at $499 nightly and boat slips start at $100 per night for vessels up to 24’ and 5’ per foot per night for vessels between 25 and 40 feet. Book online at theshoalsnorthfork.com or call 631-765-5121.