Thursday, October 21

Our Hudson Valley Experience

We have a very personal experience that we repeat every year as an annual tradition. It's become a great experience for us, something that we look forward to every year, and I'd love to share it with you.

Every October, we take a road trip up the Hudson Valley. For those of you not familiar with New York geography, the Hudson Valley is the string of small towns that dot the Hudson River, just north of New York City, along the eastern side of the river. Some towns are quite big, some small, some very rural, some getting a bit commercial. Each one a little bit different.

The Hudson Valley is beautiful, particularly as the weather gets cooler and the leaves start to change (although not this year - too warm!). We do some antique shopping, have lunch, and often visit a vintage estate or two from the Rockefeller or Vanderbilt families.

Our Hudson Valley journey has become a tradition for us. An experience that we look forward to every year, that is uniquely ours. And the best part is that we always have dinner at what has become my favorite restaurant in the world.

This restaurant is not in Paris or Rome or even Manhattan. It's in Rhinebeck, NY of all places and it's called Gigi Trattoria. The place is awesome. Can't even tell you why, it's just the total experience. The food is freshly prepared, the service is warm and attentive, the scene is buzzing with excitement, and they always seem to remember us from year to year.

The Gigi experience is completely ours and it is incredibly consistent not only from year to year and entree to entree, but also incredibly consistent with the Hudson Valley. It's hard to separate the two in our minds. Fresh local ingredients, wait staff from the local culinary school, locals who tell you all the hots spots to visit -- that kind of thing. The Hudson Valley has become a brand to us, adding value to our lives unlike any other experience. With Gigi's Trattoria at the center.

The key is to get your brand to give your consumers the same level of meaning!

What's your experience? Jim.


  1. This REALLY speaks to the importance of associations in the brand experience. Separate the more rational appeal of Gigi Trattoria (the good food/service) from your association of it with the beauty, history, charm of the Hudson Valley in Fall and its more like just another very good Italian restaurant. Likewise brands that don’t pay enough attention to their associations (causes they support, sponsorships, the links on their website, syndicated web content they leverage, etc) miss a powerful opportunity to rise above their competition.

  2. So true, love how you articulated it. Question is would it be my favorite restaurant if it were in another part of the world, part of a different overall experience? Hmmm. Jim

  3. Sounds like you have the same experience that my family has been having for many decades. We have had a family summer home in the Berkshires in Great Barrington, Mass for over 80 years. My grandparents ran it as a B&B for a short time and then turned it into a summer lodge. It has been an experience to us/me for my whole life. The experience is priceless every single time I go up - from driving the treacherous Taconic Parkway if going from the city to stopping at the iconic Red Rooster for burgers and shakes if coming from LI.

    No matter how long we are up, even if it's just a day, the lake, the air, the trees and leaves all look and feel more vibrant. The balmy summer days on the water - antique shopping the Sheffield/Ashley falls - Tanglewood - and of course the country prepared food are all priceless. There is a restaurant called Allium that is country cooking at its best. Actually the Berskshires founded the farm to plate initiative (see NY Times article this Summer) and Allium and others are all apart of it. There is even a great Greek/Italian pizza joint with the freshest cheese in the world!

    The stairway of memories (holding photographs from every generation from my family) solidifies the family chain of experience. They definitely didn't care about sun damage as there are many photos of bassinets in the direct sunlight!

    Well that was my trip down memory/experience lane. Now I want to go back up for a weekend!

  4. Lancaster County, PA is the same way for us!

  5. I've been there too ... gorgeous! Jim.