Douglas Gray wants to make your weekend commute to the Hamptons last forever. Yes, you read that correctly.
“The longer the trip the better,” says Gray, who is one of the founders of Barton & Gray Mariners Club — a members-only yacht service with on-demand, fully staffed cruises available in New York, the Hamptons, Nantucket, Palm Beach and Miami.
Instead of sitting in East End traffic, he recommends stopping on the shores of Oyster Bay for lunch or anchoring in a scenic inlet for a refreshing swim.
“Everyone else is trying to jump on helicopters and get there as fast as humanly possible. But boating is really the only way you can go to the Hamptons where the best part of the weekend was getting there. It is usually the worst part,” he says.
Members of the club can reserve and hop on a captained boat as either an elegant means of transportation or simply to enjoy a day on the water.
“The longer the trip the better.”
—Douglas Gray, Barton & Gray Mariners Club
July is the ritzy club’s 10th anniversary, and Gray and his business partner Tim Barton are celebrating by expanding their luxury cruises to the Hamptons.
“We have improved an unbelievable amount [over the last 10 years],” Gray says. “We have added more harbors, bigger yachts, more services and bigger crews.”
In a nice nautical connection, they have also added a partnership with Mario Batali’s restaurant at the Maritime Hotel, La Sirena, to their Hamptons commuter boat service where a steward will “wait on you hand and foot.” “It’s a white-glove culinary experience,” Gray says.
Barton & Gray, which boasts several hundred members willing to foot the $10,000 initiation fee and dues that rise to $50,000 a year, began its life as a single 36-foot Hinckley Picnic boat. Over the next decade, the club grew into a fleet of 18 boats ranging from the classic Hinckley to 44-foot yachts.
“The greatest luxury our members have is free time,” Gray says. “They have achieved a great deal of success, many are at the peak of their careers and have to work all the time. They can afford to do almost anything. So when they do have time, what they do is very special.”
The club also offers reciprocal membership with other clubs throughout the East Coast, including the Hermitage Club in Vermont, Gasparilla Inn & Club in Boca Grande and the Castle Inn in Newport.
But perhaps the greatest advantage the club offers — even for those who might own a boat of their own — is experience.
“We have a lot of experience landing and anchoring our boats at really beautiful spots,” Gray says. “It takes a long time to learn the intricacies, the thousands of miles of coastline, we operate in. Age has given us quality.”