The next great winter-summer destination in the Northeast may have escaped the attention of most consumers and tourism officials along New York’s Canadian border, but when the Monette family of Malone purchased the Titus Mountain Family Ski Center, all the assets seemed to be locked in place.
World class golf has long existed just five miles from the ski and ride area in the form of the 36-hole Malone Golf Club. Now the drastically upgraded Titus Mountain gives the village along the St. Lawrence River a one-two punch that could turn this region into a true economic engine. The area also offers outstanding fly fishing.
“Clearly one of our strategic goals is to make this a four-season destination,” said Dene Savage, who doubles as President of the Malone Chamber of Commerce and Marketing Director for Titus Mountain. “A number of entities in the region are working together on this.”
Easy east-west travel along Route 11 is coupled with a private airport less than 10 miles from Titus Mountain and 4.5 miles from the golf courses. Added to that equation is an ample number of lodging beds, access to the Montreal, Ottawa and Kingston, Ontario markets, quick ground travel with Plattsburgh, N.Y. to the east and Watertown, N.Y. to the west, and seven colleges within a two hour drive, and there is the makings of great tourism potential.
The Monettes, who also own a Malone beverage distributorship, a Holiday Inn Express in town, some convenience stores and a restaurant, are well-respected business people in the community. As soon as these life-long Titus skiers acquired the facility, the face lift began.
Born as Moon Valley in 1960 under the ownership of Minnesotan Paul Augustine, the Monettes took over less than a year after Augustine’s death which occurred on New Year’s Day, 2011.
Upon rolling up their sleeves, they spent $1 million expanding the number of trails, created glade skiing, added terrain parks, and renovated the base lodge. With a summit elevation in excess of 2,000 feet and most of the 42 trails facing northeast, snow cover is exceptional.
“The feedback has universally been positive regarding the physical changes,” Savage told SnoCountry.com. “The kids in town think this is the greatest thing they’ve ever seen and the hotels and restaurants are seeing business. The Monettes have created a whole new energy in town.”
Patrons will also find snow tubing. Lodges on the Upper and Lower Mountain are uniquely connected via tunnel and overpass. Night skiing has long been a fixture at Titus from Thursday through Saturday all season.
It’s all part of the Monette family investment in a struggling region that has seen the dreaded brain drain take hold: Bruce Monette graduated in 1982 from the local high school in a class of 382 students. His daughter, 27 years later, graduated with 160 classmates.
The site encompasses 850 acres, of which 220 are devoted to skiers and boarders. Calculated expansion into a 12-month operation, says Savage, is on the drawing board. There is a yearly Oktoberfest, and for the first time, Titus will host a “Tough Mudder” extreme sports competition this fall.
At its root, though, an outstanding family has vowed to continue Titus Mountain’s evolution into a family-themed on snow experience.
Photo: Titus Mountain