Horse show exhibitors will get a taste of Manhattan luxury during their summer in the Hudson Valley
From the magazine
Life on the road as an equestrian means long days filled with hard work, quick meals, and minimal downtime. While horse shows across the country continue to add more to the show grounds to appeal to their audiences, former HITS CEO Tom Struzzieri is focusing on life outside of the show grounds.
“When things changed at HITS, I had to make the decision to either step away from horses or focus on the experience of the exhibitors,” Struzzieri tells The Plaid Horse.
The decision was easy.
A Saugerties resident of over 25 years, Struzzieri saw an opportunity to better the experience for those who spend their summers in the small New York town.
“Fifteen years ago, clients of the horse show came to me and complained that there weren’t any hotels in the area with room service,” says Struzzieri. With that information, he built Diamond Mills, the well known hotel and restaurant close to downtown Saugerties. With a goal to optimize the experience of exhibitors, Struzzieri’s team built the 30-room hotel, complete with a tavern and a 400-person ballroom for events.
While people love Diamond Mills and the modern feel it brought to Saugerties, Struzzeri and his team are striving to do more.
From the Barn to the BARN
As of April 1, 2023, The Tavern at Diamond Mills has reopened as BLACKBARN Hudson Valley, a spin on the renowned New York City restaurant BLACKBARN.
The renovation of the restaurant will take place over a six-week period and will consist of new menus and staff. Former Waldorf-Astoria Executive Chef and partner with Struzzieri, John Doherty, will take the lead on cultivating a unique menu for all to enjoy.
“Community is such an important part of the horse show,” says Struzzieri. “Dinner time is a time to connect with your horse show family.”
With the addition of BLACKBARN and its outstanding reputation for exceptional cuisine, Struzzieri is hoping to bring more visitors to Saugerties from Manhattan.
“People love BLACKBARN,” says Struzzieri. “It’s going to be a good fit for Saugerties and the horse show community.”
Hotel Rooms and Beyond
In addition to the improvements of the restaurant, just outside of the main Diamond Mills property, Struzzieri has converted multiple homes surrounding the area and turned them into additional overnight accomodations. This provides more availability for exhibitors to enjoy the amenities the hotel has to offer while also being in closer proximity to the horse show grounds.
Struzzieri and his team are also working on adding a spa to one of the properties on the river. The Spa will include 12 treatment rooms and will be tied into the hotel. Hotel guests will be able to take a boat ride down from the hotel to the spa. Construction at the spa is expected to be complete Fall 2023.
All Hands on Deck
Each improvement taking place in Saugerties is geared towards enhancing the experience for the horse show customers.
“We want to treat the customers well and give them something to do in the beautiful Hudson Valley,” says Struzzieri.
Struzzieri acknowledges that the socialization aspect of being an exhibitor of the horse show is so important and is working to provide something for everyone.
While improvements at the horse show are taking place with Traub Capital Group’s recent acquisition of HITS, Struzzieri recognizes that his projects will further enhance the experience for all.
“The new owners of HITS are also tied into the experience,” says Struzzieri. “I think what we’re both doing will really work well for the consumer.”
More to Come
Struzzieri is continuing to look beyond the projects he has currently in the works to continue adding more opportunities for those visiting the area during the horse show.
“I think I’ve learned enough about what the client expects to know what they’re looking for,” says Struzzieri. “I think we’re able to combine all that to create an enjoyable experience for everyone.”