‘I’m a Lawyer-Turned-Hotelier—Here’s How My Passion for Culture, Travel, and Tradition Led Me to My True Calling’

Photo: The Roundtree Amagansett
For Sylvia Wong, the founder of The Roundtree, Amagansett, creating a welcoming home away from home for guests is her number one priority. Wong, who opened the idyllic 14-room boutique hotel located in the Hamptons, New York in June 2020, has drawn inspiration from her cultural background and experiences to guide what hospitality means in her business.

Thanks to a fruitful career in law, Wong had the opportunity to travel throughout the globe over the span of a decade and was exposed to many different cultures and experiences along the way that helped her bring to life what The Roundtree is today. We had the chance to learn more about Wong’s lawyer-turned-hotelier background and how she’s woven her Chinese background into the hotel's magic, from its culinary offerings to special events.

roundtree amagansett sylvia wong
Photo: The Roundtree Amagansett

How Wong has woven her background into the foundation of her business

Although you might be fooled otherwise—thanks to the impeccable hotel she operates today—Wong didn’t come from a background in hospitality, per se. “Becoming a hotelier is a complete departure from what most of my professional career has looked like. I studied law at New York University,” Wong says.

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To that end, Wong says that she learned a lot about how to run a successful hospitality business while traveling around the world. “After working at a law firm in New York City for several years, I joined a technology firm and was based in Asia for about 10 years. I was responsible for the legal affairs of its emerging markets business, so I spent a lot of time traveling in Asia, Latin America, Eastern Europe, and Africa. That was an incredible experience, professionally,” Wong says. “On a personal level, being able to live and work across the globe fits my interest perfectly. I have always enjoyed traveling."

What’s more, her passion and curiosity for cultures around the world is what inspired her core values in her business today. “Because of these travels, it’s helped to frame up the creation and experience that’s delivered at The Roundtree, from the design aesthetic down to the service,” Wong says. Since her passion for hospitality and design inspired the hotel, she notes that every last detail reflects her values and experiences. “The property’s ethos is 100 percent connected to my roots."

One such way was the hotel's Lunar New Year celebrations, which featured culinary programs with Asian American restaurateurs and “carefully chosen design elements,” Wong says. “This past year, we excitedly added Lunar New Year celebrations within our first-ever culinary series that took place in the winter.” The celebrations included the Savor the Hamptons series, which brought a diverse group of chefs from New York City for weekend residencies for guests to experience exclusive food-focused programs.

“For the Lunar New Year, we hosted a traditional experience at our Beach House. It spotlighted the holiday's classic traditions, provided a dumpling-making opportunity for guests, let them sample a variety of different traditional foods, and enjoy traditional tea,” Wong says.

roundtree amagansett hotel
Photo: The Roundtree Amagansett

What’s in store at the hotel next?

Going into its third year of operation, Wong says the programs and innovative ways she can weave her cultural ties are still evolving. “As of right now, we are much in the planning process of our upcoming programming,” she says. While she’s in the development process, Wong hopes to recreate the success of the winter-timed Savor the Hamptons culinary series they hosted earlier this year. “Specifically, we’re excited to highlight female culinary leaders and hospitality innovators this year, and I'm looking forward to partnering with a diverse range of chefs. Every flavor, cuisine, and form of comfort food has a place at our table,” she says.

“Specifically, we’re excited to highlight female culinary leaders and hospitality innovators this year, and I'm looking forward to partnering with a diverse range of chefs. Every flavor, cuisine, and form of comfort food has a place at our table,”—Sylvia Wong, founder, The Roundtree, Amagansett

The core of her operation, however? Her guests, which is why Wong welcomes any and all feedback from those who stay at the hotel to enhance their experience further. “From the day The Roundtree opened its doors to welcome its first guests three years ago, we have been blessed to have received consistent feedback from our guests about the understated luxury and serenity of the property and the bespoke service they received. We are thrilled as we set out to create a beautiful place where our guests would feel like it is their second home,” Wong says.

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