Diamond Mills Hotel & Tavern is open for business.
After a busy year of construction, and over four years since the community first learned of HITS president Tom Struzzieri’s plans, Diamond Mills is hosting events, booking rooms and serving diners.
The four-story, 64,115-square-foot brick-and-cultured-stone complex, which sprawls along seven and a half acres on the bluff above the Esopus Creek, is of a scale that’s unprecedented for the village. It consists of a 30-room boutique hotel building linked to a second building, which is divided into the conference center and restaurant with a bar and upstairs lounge area. The rates, too, are unprecedented, starting at $275 a night and rising to more than $500 a night for a luxury suite in the high season.
The conference center, with a capacity for 450 seats, is by far the largest in Ulster County, filling a void for large meeting space in the area and giving Poughkeepsie’s Grandview a run for its money. (Diamond Mills has already hosted its first banquet: a benefit for Benedictine Hospital seating 407, and has a similar event planned for Kingston Hospital.)
Such an ambitious development and the inherent riskiness of a new hotel and restaurant would seem to be a difficult proposition in a down economy. But in fact, it was the unique availability of a low-interest loan through the Federal Stimulus Act that made Diamond Mills possible, says Struzzieri. The target customers are the thousands of HITS [Horseshows In The Sun] participants and spectators each year, fall leaf-peepers and the corporate and wedding crowd from New York City and environs.
“There’s a demand for upscale lodging in Ulster County,” said Struzzieri. Lack of it has kept some HITS customers away. They expect room service, valet parking, and other amenities, says Struzzieri. “Now they’ll come here. I also believe those customers will stay here and patronize the area restaurants. They’ll come up the hill and be a multiplier for Saugerties. The high tide will float all boats.”
Such comments clearly were meant to downplay the competition posed by the new hotel to existing lodgings and restaurants. Struzzieri believes there’s plenty of business for everyone. “I’ve developed the demand for 1,000 rooms each weekend for 10 to 12 weeks of the year,” he said. “We don’t want to alienate those relationships with our hotel partners.”