Blissful at Hamptons Float

Victor Williams, co-owner of Hamptons Float, says that floating has alleviated his joint pain from inflammation as well as his insomnia. Durell Godfrey

Was it fate that sent a reporter who had awoken to sharp lower back pain, and nagging worry about car trouble, to Hamptons Float in Water Mill? 

That, like so many other questions, will likely remain unanswered, but why question good fortune anyway? 

Hamptons Float, in building 2B at 760 Montauk Highway, offers a spa-like experience, from the minimalist, “museum” motif of its reception and outer room to the four floating rooms in which clients spend 90 sensory-deprived minutes. In the era of nonstop stimuli, floating in 11 inches of 94.5-degree water, 800 pounds of medical-grade Epsom salts keeping a body blissfully buoyant, is a strange but welcome place to be. 

Victor Williams and Steve Rosborough are the owners of Hamptons Float, as well as avid floating practitioners. “I got into floating because I had aches in my joints, and my fingers and wrists, from inflammation,” Mr. Williams said earlier this month. “I was taking Advil almost every day, which is really hard on the liver.” Insomnia, he said, was another affliction from which he sought relief. “I was looking for an alternative therapy to treat inflammation, and also insomnia. A friend suggested this. I started floating, and I don’t have to take Advil every day.”

He makes no absolute claims as to the medical benefits of floating, “but it seems like for a lot of people, it reduces stress, pain, anxiety, or symptoms from Lyme disease.” Some clients, he allowed, hope to attain a meditative state, which sensory deprivation would seem to assist. “We don’t have any philosophical mumbo-jumbo, we want people to define floating for themselves and what it means for them, because it’s their own experience. All we do is smile and give people water, generally, and ask if they need anything. Of course, we’ll listen to them if they want to talk to somebody.” 

In one first-time floater’s experience, entering the chamber, closing the door, and lying flat was akin to walking through a doorway to a dreamlike place of refuge. For the first time in memory, there was nothing to do: no chirping smartphone, no calls, emails, or text messages, no assignments, no deadlines. When everything is stripped away, what is there? Nothing, and everything. 

Music, a typical New Age-y soundtrack common to spas, faded away after a few minutes, though the floater can customize that, as well as lighting, via buttons within the chamber. About that music: Its gentle beat is slower than the resting heartbeat, like reggae, perhaps further fostering a meditative or trancelike state. 

Breathing perceptibly slows, as do thoughts, most of this floater’s coming in the form of passages of music playing in an indefinite loop, including the affirming “Everybody Is a Star” by Sly and the Family Stone, which had played that morning on WEHM (broadcasting from the building next to Hamptons Float), and, toward the end, “Drifting,” a beautifully apropos soundscape by Jimi Hendrix. Is this what the womb is like? 

Perhaps it is. Mr. Williams likens the four floating rooms to cribs. Clients “come in all hunched over and stressed, and come out as babies, their faces fresh and pink. It’s very rewarding.” The effects of floating, he said, accumulate as people engage in the practice more. 

Hamptons Float books 90-minute sessions. “There are some places that offer 60 minutes,” Mr. Williams said, “but I think that there’s some benefit between 60 and 90 minutes that you’re missing. People can book longer,” as some clients prefer two hours. Hamptons Float also offers a sauna, which he said is popular to combine with a float. 

Having floated more than 100 times, “I would say that this is a very intimate human moment in the tank,” Mr. Williams said. Mr. Rosborough, he said, “calls these ‘retreat huts.’ But we built this because we live here year round, and it would take a half a day to go float UpIsland. We wanted to float more, and we also wanted to share this with the community.” 

Business, at this early juncture, has exceeded expectations, Mr. Williams said. “I thought it would be hard to make rent, opening at this part of the year, out of season. We’ve been making rent, doing great, and getting more and more people. So we’re above my expectations.” The summer crowds are coming, but “we want to be a year-round business for locals. The summer crowd is just a boon, if they do come in. We’re really trying to be year round.”

Hamptons Float is open Tuesday through Sunday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., though that schedule may be adjusted. Pricing, services, and packages are at hamptonsfloat.com. For a limited time, a 50-percent discount is offered to first-time floaters, who can enter “firstfloat” or “firstsauna” when booking online.