Shelter Island’s name used to say it all. It was a secluded island, nestled apart from the North Fork’s winery culture and the South Fork’s Hamptons celebrity style that could only be reached by ferry.
But the island is no longer a sheltered secret. Big names like hotelier Andre Balazs, who just released the Balazs Réserve Rosé at his hotel Sunset Beach, which is celebrating its tenth season on Shelter Island this summer, are making the island a destination of choice. And more people are buying property on the island, as home prices are on the rise.
Despite the economic slowdown, Shelter Island had the highest increase in the median price for single-family homes in the second quarter out of the five East End towns, which also include Southold, Southampton, East Hampton and Riverhead. The island saw an increase of $285,000 to $1.13 million from $845,000 last year, according to Suffolk Research Services.
Total dollar sales on Shelter Island, however, decreased 4.2 percent in the second quarter compared to last year.
In 2007, Moore said she sold about $40 million in homes on Shelter Island. Her sales included Shorewood Manor, an 8,500-square-foot mansion on almost 8 acres of waterfront land, which sold for $10 million last year and then re-sold for $12.4 million in April.
“I like to say it’s the destination island of the Hamptons,” Penelope Moore, senior vice president and associate broker at Corcoran’s Shelter Island office, said. “Sunset Beach has been a huge boon to Shelter Island. It’s attracted younger and successful people.”
There are also a few notable residents hiding out on the island. Designers Simon Doonan and Jonathan Adler bought a 2,800-square-foot waterfront ranch for $1.9 million in May, their second home on Shelter Island. The couple already owns a 1,800-square-foot, three-bedroom beach cottage.
Up the block from the Doonan-Adler residence is Cole Haan CEO James Seuss’s home, which is on the market for $1.48 million.
“Over the last decade, the property values have skyrocketed,” said Balazs, who has had a house on Shelter Island for 14 years. His other hotels include The Mercer in Soho and Chateau Marmont in Hollywood.
Balazs said he hopes the island will remain apart from the Hamptons, and won’t trade its laid-back lifestyle for socialites.
“The last thing we want to be is a popular Hamptons site,” Balazs said. “Most people on Shelter Island like to think of themselves as distinctly not from the Hamptons, it’s quite a source of pride and comfort to people on Shelter Island that they are a safe boat ride away.”
While Balazs said he doesn’t want to adopt the Hamptons style, but he is taking advantage of its wine country. About a year and a half ago, Balazs decided to produce the Balazs Réserve Rosé, inspired by his summers spent in St. Tropez, a town on the French Riviera.
The wine is produced on his friend Christian Wolffer’s estate in Sagaponack on the South Fork. It’s available in Sunset Beach’s restaurant and is sold in some of his other hotels.
He doesn’t have plans to sell the rosé in stores or produce other wines.
“It dawned on me that there was something about the Long Island rosés as they got better and better over the years,” Balazs said.