Communicating a Luxury Image Shift for Woodstock Inn & Resort through PR

No one ever expects a Tomato Whisperer.  But that’s one of the creative threads in the image tapestry we’re helping weave for this American legacy resort.

With a 200+ year old history and roots tied to the legendary Rockefeller family, the resort was embarking on a multiyear, $16.5 million renovation.  The goal was to foster appeal to a new and growing group of luxury leisure travelers (younger and affluent) while still cultivating loyalty from mature audiences that have embraced the resort for generations.

Naturally, the executives wanted a big PR splash to tell the world about their renovations.  But of course, the media pretty much yawn when you just try to dazzle them with budget sizes, renderings, and before/after photos.  Renovations are a dime a dozen in the travel world, so our job was to figure out a compelling way to make the media care.

Enter bees, slow tea, gourds, flowers, 57 kinds of tomatoes, and an experiential foodie paradise.

Nestled within the renovation plan was the debut of The Red Barns at Kelly Way Gardens, a state-of-the-art culinary center to house classes, events, and dining experiences.  The barns and gardens delivered absolutely stunning visuals, and the culinary center offered an unexpectedly dramatic experiential hub, smack in the middle of the Vermont countryside.  Our little PR antennae quivered the moment we learned about this, and we immediately chose it as the hook that would make these renovations stand apart.

Our PR campaign for the image shift begain in spring 2018 and leveraged The Red Barns at Kelly Way Gardens to draw the media spotlight on the entire resort, targeting a contemporary luxury audience.  To achieve this, we…

  • Media trained resort Executive Chef Rhys Lewis and Master Gardener Benjamin Pauly to align talking points with overall renovation story
  • Orchestrated a creative, newsworthy photo and video shoot to develop the core publicity assets needed to best tell the story
  • Worked with the resort to develop interesting and unique classes – such as Slow Tea in the Garden, which sourced herbs and honey from the resort’s own bees and gardens – to leverage for launch phase press releases, feature story development, and social influencer opportunities
  • Pitched and secured experiential visits for leading journalists, both individual itineraries and group press trips
  • Not gonna lie… we also tasted a sizable amount of the 200 different fresh vegetables from the gardens

The media responded with interest and excitement, and the results keep on coming.  Significant coverage has showcased the resort – barns, gardens, AND interior renovations – with feature stories in key targets such as The Boston Globe, Food & Wine, Departures, Town & Country, Montreal Gazette, Yankee Magazine, NECN, and more.  Social influencer coverage exceeded 10 million (and counting), and the resort was particularly excited about other cool wins, such as a full two days of stories on Country Living’s Instagram channel, and a full 10-minute editorial segment on the coveted PBS show “Weekends with Yankee.”

In the fall of 2019, we tested the waters on positioning Ben Pauly as The Tomato Whisperer.  Come ON… the man grows more than 60 varieties of tomatoes in extraordinary gardens that would make your jaw drop, and his elegant tomato tasting dinners are – dare we say it? – tasteful… in every sense of the word.  He’s got some magic juju with tomatoes for sure.

How did the media respond to our test?  Instantly and with great joy.  See debut segment here WCAX-TV and a five-segment on-location story here FOX-44.

Up next?  We’re adding sunflowers to Ben’s repertoire, with the debut of his 20,000 square foot Sunflower House featuring more than 100 varieties of sunflowers.  Summer 2021 saw extensive media coverage of Ben’s new masterpiece including these gems in Thrillist and Veranda.