In NewsWhistle’s weekly question-and-answer series, Clara Morgan speaks with some of the world’s top beauty, style and travel influencers to find out more about their lives and careers.
This week, Clara speaks with Southampton Inn owner Dede Gotthelf. With several acres of manicured lawns and gardens in the heart of the Village of Southampton on Long Island’s stunning East End, the Southampton Inn provides an idyllic, year-round escape for bustling New York city-dwellers.
With 90 well-appointed guest rooms, many of which were renovated this past winter, the inn is located just steps away from the town’s fine dining restaurants, designer boutiques, art galleries, parks, and museums, and a short drive from highly-rated Coopers Beach. The outdoor patio and ballroom were also recently renovated to ensure the Inn is the perfect home-away-from-home to explore the scenic Hamptons.
Gotthelf’s illustrious 40-year career spans real estate development, financial consulting, and hospitality. Additionally, she brings an artistic flair to her role as a classically-trained pianist, award-winning artist, and supporter of the arts. She generously donates the Southampton Inn’s meeting and event rooms for not-for-profits and local businesses, and regularly works with local groups such as the Hamptons Theater Company, Southampton Cultural Cente,r and Southampton Historical Museum on community projects and initiatives.
For more information on the Southampton Inn, visit: www.southamptoninn.com
1. What was it about Southampton that led you to move there?
My parents purchased a little fisherman’s cottage in 1951 and I have spent summers (and weekends and holidays) there since I was born. According to family legend, they purchased because they were in love with Nantucket –which was too far from New York City for frequent weekend getaways (especially during the 1950’s!).
2. You have an impressive record as a real estate developer; what led to you joining the hospitality industry with the purchase of the Southampton Inn?
The Southampton Inn was brought to me in 1997 by a local realtor who asked for assistance in putting a sales package together. I assembled the site plans and financials, did the projections, received an acceptance letter from a New York City kindergarten for my youngest son, and called the broker to say… “I will buy it.” At the time I thought it was another real estate transaction where I could reposition, renovate, turn it over to a management company, and move on to the next “deal.” And here we are, almost 20 years later, transitioned from real estate development to hospitality.
3. If you could meet anyone in the world, who do you want to meet? And why?
I would love to meet the author Naomi Klein. Her books are well researched, beautifully written, and filled with historic detail. I believe her issues are extremely important to our global civilization today.
4. Who influences your personal style?
My personal style is an amalgam of Martha Stewart, Eileen Fisher, and the late Francis Fleetwood.
5. Proudest career moment?
Received a Certificate of Special Achievement from Governor Hugh Carey for the urban planning and redevelopment of 12 towns/cities throughout New York State.
6. If you were not the owner of The Southampton Inn, what would you want to be?
I would like to continue with real estate development — especially workforce housing and green initiatives — as well as write the books that have been on my agenda since 1980!
7. Where do you see yourself in five years?
Repeat the answer above! A successful real estate developer of workforce housing, green initiatives, planning to improve the quality of life on our beautiful East End… and published!
8. Any advice for others entering your profession?
In my opinion, a broad base of education in finance (understanding what makes a business successful, costs, controls, projections, marketing) and communications (written and verbal) lays the foundation for pursuing goals in almost any field. Having an open mind enables you to act on opportunities as they present themselves (if they work out great, if they do not, being able to pick up pieces and move on is an asset).
9. Best international dining experience you’ve ever had?
I still remember dining at Le Taillevent in Paris– a truly special and memorable culinary moment.
10. Favorite vacation spot and hotel?
I have to say that Southampton is my favorite vacation spot and the Southampton Inn is my favorite hotel! I have traveled to 26 countries (from my banking days) and always want to return to the extraordinary light, relaxed ambiance, casual environment, spectacular beaches, beautiful farms, and classic traditions of Southampton, New York!
11. Three items that can always be found in your purse?
My purse? A cell phone, American Express credit card, and my ubiquitous black daily diary (in pen writing, not electronic!)
12. What song can you listen to on repeat?
Jeff Buckley, Hallelujah.
Lead-In Image Courtesy of Dede Gotthelf and the Southampton Inn