Born on Long Island, Tom Struzzieri grew up loving sports, horses, and being his own boss. His parents ran the pony ride concession at the 1964 New York World’s Fair, and his father later purchased a horse transportation company. Riding was just one of his sports, but the intense competition and camaraderie of the show jumping world fascinated and drew him in and, eventually, led him to create a Saugerties landmark in the Diamond Mills Hotel & Tavern.
Soaring ceilings, natural light, sweeping vistas, unique fixtures, and roaring falls make for one-of-a-kind memories and the photos to go with them.
Coming upriver to Vassar College in the 1970s, “I didn’t spend a whole lot of time in class,” Tom says. “I was already a horse guy. And horses have been good to me.” Before the decade was over, he was running Rose View Stables in Poughkeepsie, teaching riders, training horses, and managing local horse shows. His first multi-day show, in Rhinebeck in 1980, won rave reviews. In 1982, he held the first Horse Show In The Sun (HITS) in Gainesville, Florida.
Today, Tom is president and CEO of HITS, holding 56 shows a year in six states. Saugerties, where his purpose-built 14-barn facility hosts some of show jumping’s premiere events and richest purses, is home base. And as Diamond Mills Hotel & Tavern enters its 10th year as one of the Hudson Valley’s top-tier destinations, with 30 luxurious guest rooms, a grand ballroom, and a chill-but-upscale tavern, it’s clear that Tom’s knack for hospitality is as epic and genuine as his horse show mojo.
“We still do the utmost in boutique finery for special events.” – Tom Struzzieri, Owner
“I’m a sucker for a boutique hotel and this one definitely checked every box,” wrote a Yelper from NYC in January of 2020. “Even the restaurant attached was a hit.... The room was very inviting and cozy. The floors were heated in the bathroom—who wouldn’t love that. There was a balcony that provided an awesome view of a stream attached to a waterfall and a red bridge that was beyond picturesque. Breakfast was also a treat.”
“One of the most beautiful hotels I’ve been to in a long while and I can’t wait to go back,” writes another, a former Saugerties resident home for a visit. “What a wonderful experience! Everything was immaculate and beautiful.” When HITS Saugerties opened in 2004, the local lodging scene wasn’t set up to handle the 2.5 humans (on average) that accompany each horse, of which there are over 1,100, not to mention the few thousand spectators that travel from all over to watch. Today, there are more options for visitors, but there is still only one Diamond Mills.
Locals watched in amazement as a brick and stone fortress took shape on a bluff overlooking the Esopus Creek, on the former site of the Martin Cantine Paper Mill. The Diamond Mills Hotel & Tavern complex, which opened in late 2011, covers 64,115 square feet and rises four stories tall. The tech-smart event space can hold over 400 for a dream wedding, corporate conference, or gala for a good cause. Soaring ceilings, natural light, sweeping vistas, unique fixtures, and roaring falls make for one-of-a-kind memories and the photos to go with them. Each of the thirty rooms offers a private balcony with a water view.
The Tavern overlooking the falls has evolved into a more laid-back place where you can wear your jeans and enjoy a pizza, a Tavern Burger, Duck Confit, or Beet Wellington.
Originally envisioned as special-occasion dining, the Tavern overlooking the falls has evolved into a more laid-back place where you can wear your jeans and enjoy a pizza (there’s the meaty Carnivore and the roasted vegetable Grounded), a Tavern Burger, Duck Confit, or Beet Wellington. “We still do the utmost in boutique finery for special events,” says Tom. “Everything is elegant and warm; I’m hands-on with the big things, and we try to hire people who will do what you’d do if you were there. And we have a great source of eager hospitality talent from the CIA.”
“Each business I get into in my life seems to just draw me into the next, and when I find something I like, I look for more of it,” says Tom. Diamond Mills now has a sister property: Saugerties Steamboat Company—a waterfront oasis offering charter boats, striper fishing, and sunset cruises in season. And in the world of sport, Tom organizes marathon and triathlon events.
“There’s nowhere in the world I’d rather live,” he says of his Saugerties home, where he and his wife Jane, a Hyde Park native, raised their three children. “I’ve lived in a lot of places around the country, and this is where I always want to call home. There is really nowhere like it. I feel like we have played our part, along with a lot of other colleagues and neighbors, in making Saugerties a more active, vibrant place. It’s certainly no secret to the equine set, though it might be better known in Germany than in California in that world.”
The event space can hold over 400 for a dream wedding, corporate conference, or gala for a good cause. Each of the thirty rooms offers a private balcony with a water view.
And it’s no secret that Diamond Mills, although large and possessed of an almost dreamlike elegance, is very much a part of the local community. The ballroom began hosting gala benefit banquets almost before the paint dried on its unique blend of high industrial chic and vintage European charm. Local hospitals, business organizations, and nonprofits of all sorts have found a warm welcome here ever since.
“It’s been a good partnership among my family, my horse show family, and the community,” says Tom. Over the years, he’s served on the SUNY at Ulster Board of Trustees, the Ulster County Development Corporation Board of Directors, and the Kingston Hospital Board, along with coaching AYSO soccer and youth football. His kids, who grew up working summertimes at the HITS concessions, include one daughter who is a writer finishing her master’s at Columbia, another who owns a cafe in Lake George, and a son who caught the sports organizer bug and is helping Tom run the endurance marathon and triathlon business.
He still owns some shares in fine horses, and looks forward to welcoming spectators back to HITS Saugerties, which was live-streamed like so much else in summer 2020, and to hosting the big, chic, warmhearted bashes Diamond Mills does so well. Meanwhile, guests have had nothing but high marks for the warm, caring, and fastidious experiences that have been possible.
“It’s a challenge to be limited to events of less than 49 people for safety reasons, but that will pass eventually,” Tom observes. And when it does, Diamond Mills will have its 7,000 square feet of elegant event space sparkling in its unique setting, all ready to scale back up from the current menu of micro-wedding and elopement packages. “I’m not quite sure what our 10th anniversary celebrations will look like yet, or when that will happen. When the time is right, we will most certainly be celebrating.”
Diamond Mills Hotel & Tavern
25 South Partition Street, Saugerties