Call it Silver Sands 2.0.
Visitors to the recently reopened Silver Sands Motel & Beach Bungalows are greeted by the same neon sign and private beach that have welcomed thousands of guests since 1957. The retro peach-and-teal color scheme, window boxes of “old-fashioned” red geraniums, nautical flags spelling Silver Sands up the flagpole and a row of white Adirondack chairs on a beachfront boardwalk still capture the spirit of vintage Americana family travel and leisure, but the multi-million-dollar refresh takes the storied Greenport motel into the 21st century for modern-day newcomers and legacy guests alike.
“It was not our intention to create a 1950s or 1960s hotel. This was more about rejuvenation than restoration,” said proprietor Alexander Perros, who partnered with lifelong friend chef Ryan Hardy on the project. “We wanted to make this relevant for today’s travelers and visitors in terms of amenities while staying true to the kind of roots of the past. We’re honored to be stewards of the Silver Sands’ name and preserve the original spirit of the place.”
The footprint for the 20-room motel and bungalows remains the same — as does that spectacular view of Peconic Bay facing Shelter Island — but structural and aesthetic updates abound. Motel room ceilings were vaulted for airiness, while rooms were punched up with a mix of contemporary and mid-century elements. Details evoke a sense of time and space, from textural seagrass rugs to “throwback” patterned shower tiles and seahorse door pulls that reference the motel’s logo.
“One thing I found interesting about this motel — and there were some old brochures — was that when the owners [Florence and Thomas Jurzenia] first built it in the 1950s, they hired a Fifth Avenue interior design firm,” said Perros. “These rooms were very fashion-forward; this wasn’t just a thing at the beach. We’re taking a similar approach.”
The new proprietors kept what made sense to bring the past into the present, restoring the original neon sign — the motel’s signature marker — and moving the old lobby phone booth into the Boathouse. “The Boathouse is full of really nostalgic pieces,” said Perros. “It’s almost becoming like a little museum for all these vintage finds.”
The original painted-shell door numbers are framed under glass in the motel’s updated lobby. Meanwhile, about a dozen vintage black-and-white photos of the original owners (think outdoor cookouts or the owner as a little girl by an old car) now hang in the guest rooms, modernized with colored paint by artist Kris VandeWalle. “We wanted to incorporate as much history into the rooms as possible, but sometimes when you put something really old in a new room, it just doesn’t work. These paintings provide a bridge between the past and the present,” said Perros.
Playful retro elements like a bright orange Trimline room phone (with a direct-to-lobby hotline for those flummoxed by the rotary dial) are balanced by chic amenities, from a Tivoli Bluetooth radio to Linge Particulier linen bathrobes, Matouk bath towels and Flamingo Estate bath products. Motel rooms are flanked by planted gardens.
Now bright, airy and modern, the finished motel still retains a sense of nostalgia. The former dark-wood paneling might have been beloved by fashion photographers for Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar, not to mention the movie “18 ½” that was filmed there during the pandemic, but it was time for the Greenport icon to get a refresh. “Everybody is happy to see it get some love,” says Ali Tuthill, the Silver Sands’ executive director.
Back to Nature
Located at the end of a wooded road and sitting on 1,400 feet of sandy private beachfront and wooded gardens, Silver Sands envelops guests in nature, be it via hikes, bike rides, beachside cookouts, bocce courts or birdwatching with binoculars placed in select guest rooms. All the cottages were winterized so nature can be enjoyed year round.
Families and groups looking for a more immersive nature experience can try out the white-shingled cottages aka Beach Shacks (studios and one-bedrooms with private screened-in porches and outdoor rain showers), Bungalows (one to two bedrooms with spacious living areas, reading nooks and outdoor living spaces) and Beach Houses (two to five bedrooms, available starting this fall, with full kitchens, fireplaces, private decks and a vintage style).
The beachfront will entice with swimming areas and platforms on Peconic Bay, plus kayaks and stand-up paddleboards. Silver Sands is also partnering with local fishing and sailing outfits for more ambitious water activities, and there will be five moorings out in the bay for those who arrive by boat.
And what’s a bayside resort without oysters? The rich tidal marshlands of the North Fork are legendary, and Pipes Cove has been home to oyster farming since the 1880s. (Pipes Cove Oysters were once a staple at Manhattan’s Grand Central Oyster Bar.) Relaunched in partnership with Oysterponds Shellfish Company and Silver Sands’ 15 acres of underwater land, Pipes Cove Oysters are again a local delicacy, and Oysterponds Shellfish will be shucking oysters Friday through Sundays at the Boathouse.
Chef Hardy of Delicious Hospitality Group — known for downtown Manhattan restaurants Charlie Bird and Pasquale Jones — will oversee Silver Sands’ food and beverage outlets. Including a refurbished diner (grab a retro chocolate malt!), snack bar and wood-fired pizza truck, dining is “casual in nature but very fresh and locally focused,” said Tuthill, noting the picnic tables, fresh seafood and farm produce. “The point is just to enjoy the setting, and any way we can enhance that with food and beverage, that’s the focus.”
A philosophy of responsible development aims to protect the delicate and diverse ecosystem that surrounds Silver Sands. The all-electric property uses no fossil fuels, minimizing its environmental impact and carbon footprint. The landscaping, done by Hollander Design, was a major undertaking, with numerous native plants, trees and pollinators adding beauty and cohesion, not to mention beachside erosion control.
“This is an ecologically significant piece of land. We wanted to stay within the existing footprint and work with what we had because this is really just about the property — and bringing people into the environment,” said Perros. “To me, that’s where the story began and where it continues.”
Motel rooms at Silver Sands start at $375 per night; bungalows start at $400 per night; and beach shacks start at $525 per night. Day passes are also available.