The Hamptons are actually in full swing, and Sylvia Wong is definitely feeling it because the proprietor of the Roundtree lodge in Amagansett. For the NYC lawyer, the highway to hotelier was fairly circuitous however a pure transition given her love of journey.
After learning legislation at NYU, Wong started her profession at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, a big legislation agency within the metropolis, specializing in mergers and acquisitions, representing purchasers who acquired or bought companies.
“As a younger lawyer, it was an unimaginable studying expertise to work alongside a few of America’s finest attorneys who’re clever, inventive and client-focused,” she mentioned, noting that though it was a demanding job, it helped her construct a robust basis of expertise within the authorized and enterprise realms, in addition to private improvement. “I feel again about these years with fond recollections.”
Wong then joined IBM and was based mostly in Asia for about 10 years. In 2012, she returned to New York and was appointed chief compliance officer, main the corporate’s worldwide ethics and compliance program.
Then, in 2015, one other turning level: Wong was employed by Western Know-how Funding, a non-public funding agency with a big actual property portfolio. As the corporate was seeking to develop, hospitality grew to become an natural extension of their holdings, and Wong’s too.
“Journey has all the time been one among my passions,” she mentioned. “I used to be lucky to have the chance to go to many unimaginable locations world wide. A lot of fantastic recollections are from visits to attention-grabbing locations and stays at small resorts that provide understated luxurious and glorious service.”
It wasn’t Wong’s preliminary sport plan to open up store within the Hamptons, particularly, however a fortuitous on-line property itemizing modified all that in early 2019. At the moment, the now-hotel was a family-owned property known as Gansett Inexperienced Manor, and one winter weekend, she took the Hampton Jitney to see it firsthand. “The jitney stopped immediately throughout the road from the property. I nonetheless bear in mind the crispness of the air vividly — it was a fantastic, chilly day. After I began to discover the property’s grounds, I instantly fell in love with it,” mentioned Wong, who co-invested within the buy of what would develop into the Roundtree with WTI. “Its expansive garden and the encompassing farmlands supply such a peaceable and tranquil atmosphere,” she added. “But it’s positioned proper on the primary road, near the fantastic native retailers and eating places, and inside a brief stroll or bike experience from miles of lovely white sand seashores.”
Wong was additionally drawn to the historical past of the property. “It was the homestead of one of many first 4 households who settled in Amagansett across the 1650s — now we have a barn and a number of other cottages which can be lots of of years outdated.”
After buying the property, the renovation course of proved fairly the feat. “There was a lot work that wanted to be executed and having so many historic buildings on the property made the method that rather more tedious,” mentioned Wong, noting the pandemic created a further set of hurdles.
“About halfway via the method, the state of New York suspended most development tasks apart from a really narrowly outlined group of tasks, and we weren’t in a position to decide whether or not we had been in a position to proceed, so out of warning, we stopped with out figuring out after we’d be capable to end and even resume the work we had been doing.” Finally, they had been in a position to full renovations simply behind their authentic schedule. In 2022, the Roundtree additionally unveiled the Seaside Home, a compound of two dwellings simply minutes from the primary property that had been as soon as owned by playwright Neil Simon.
The location overhaul was “equal elements nerve-racking and thrilling” with the pandemic exacerbating the challenges of debuting a lodge.
“Along with ensuring that our visitor expertise was every little thing we wished it to be, we had to determine tips on how to create an atmosphere that our visitors felt secure in and the way finest to guard them. Within the early days of the pandemic, there was no rule guide to comply with,” Wong mentioned.
Fortunately, when the lodge opened its doorways in June 2020, every little thing fell into place.
“We determined to take a easy strategy — do what we’d usually do if we had been internet hosting mates and family members. After we opened, we had no reservations. We had been so busy that we didn’t even have time to fret,” she mentioned. “Very quickly, when the primary visitors discovered us, we had been met with an incredible quantity of appreciation and assist from them.”
Of their first 12 months of enterprise, about 80% of their visitors got here from NYC and the tri-state space. Now, that makes up half their visitors, with the remaining trickling in from the West Coast, Texas, Florida and “recently fairly a couple of from Europe.
“For individuals who have a lifelong dream of opening an inn, Wong finds her secret sauce in remembering the little issues.
“In my thoughts, ardour, authenticity and a spotlight to particulars are some important success elements,” she mentioned. “You should love what you do. It’s a demanding job, however it received’t really feel prefer it if you take pleasure in it. Do your analysis and make the most of the assets which can be obtainable to you by way of private learnings, contacts and alternatives for mentorship.”
The entrepreneur additionally stresses the significance of studying from life experiences “to create a imaginative and prescient for what you need your visitor expertise to appear like and what you need visitors to remove from their time spent at your property.”
Within the course of of making the Roundtree, Wong had numerous individuals inform her “that is all the time the way it’s executed.” Nonetheless, counting on her personal instinct to find out proper from incorrect was invaluable.
“It’s necessary to take heed to recommendation however make your individual selections after that,” she mentioned. “Ask questions, be inquisitive and belief your intestine.”