Alex McCord, 36, changes houses faster in the Hamptons than she changed alliances on the show. "We like to rent different places just for the weekend to see what we enjoy," says McCord. After all, much of the summer is devoted to the "Little Kids, Big City: Tales From a Real House in New York City" book tour. The humorous look at parenting that she and husband, Simon van Kempen, co-wrote was inspired by sons Francois, 6, and Johan, 4, and it's going into its second printing.
"We've come up with a list of must-haves: secluded - preferably with a winding road leading to it - but central, and a great pool," says McCord. Their favorite place? A 3,000-square-foot, four-bedroom, 3Â½-bath house in Bridgehampton on five acres. A waterfall cascades into a striking free-form 38-by-44-foot pool that has an underwater whirlpool seating area. The grassy play area has a treehouse and leads into a one-mile hiking trail.
"This house can accommodate our kids, our friends, their kids and a baby-sitter," says McCord. "There is a huge great room where everyone can hang out, a 500-square-foot deck by the dining area and plenty of seating by the pool.
"One of the master bedrooms opens directly to the pool and has its own sink, fridge and coffee maker," she adds. "We could wake up early, make our coffee, snuggle with our kids, go out to the pool and not disturb the others. "
The location also is great. "We could have lunch in East Hampton, go out at night in Southampton and never be on the road too long." Plus, they've got pizza delivery. "It's also great to rent a house that's lived in," she says. "I love to cook. This house already had the essentials, like salt, pepper and basil."
That's because it's really one of owner Stephanie Melstein's personal homes. "It's not your usual tired rental property," Melstein says. "We have every gadget, and always leave a bottle of wine, a pool toy, garbage bags and toilet paper for our renters."
After McCord left this summer, Melstein received a call from Dina Manzo of "The Real Housewives of New Jersey," looking to rent. Manzo and McCord hadn't even spoken to each other about the house, she says. Manzo didn't rent, but you can: One week in August is $7,500.