Serge and Caroline Lussi

Serge and Caroline Lussi

by Stephen Reed


As we approach this year’s True North Dinner and the honoring of our Legacy Family, the Lussis, it seems appropriate to acknowledge the father and mother of three of those alumni (all in the Northwood Fullerton Wall of Fame) and the grandfather and grandmother of four more. Serge and Caroline Lussi have been a significant part of the Northwood and Lake Placid communities for seven decades.


Few couples in Lake Placid’s history have better embodied the athleticism, entrepreneurial savvy and civic spirit which this small Adirondak village is renowned for. In an interview for this article, a word that popped up frequently was “values”: the values passed on by their parents, the values at the heart of a 64 year marriage and the values which were the foundation of about the same number of years as successful hoteliers, the values passed on to their remarkable children, and the values which led them to serve unstintingly the local and larger Adirondack community.


It is fitting that Serge and Caroline’s whirlwind courtship (only weeks between meeting on the mountain and marriage) began on Whiteface; skiing has been a huge part of their and their children’s lives. A former president of the US Ski Association and Alpine Chairman for the 1980 Winter Games, Serge has won the 1993 Julius Belgian Award for his contributions to the sport of skiing. Caroline’s own ski career was quite impressive; she was twice Junior Eastern champion and a pre-Olympics competitor at Squaw Valley in 1960. She was an Alpine ski official for two decades and helped organize the Alpine event in the ’80 Olympic games. All three of their children — Arthur ’79, Cristina ’80, and Katrina ’87 skied at Northwood. Arthur later captained Dartmouth’s Alpine squad, Cris skied at St. Lawrence where she is in the athletic Hall of Fame, and Katrina distinguished herself as a member of the US Freestyle team and a Nor/Am Grand Prix champion. While their many grandchildren ski, the most recent generation have branched out into a wide range of sports, including polo, golf, biking, water skiing, ski jumping and hockey.


The hard work, competitiveness and attention to detail that becoming a top skier entails were helpful traits as Serge and Caroline grew their enterprises from managing a motel near Whiteface, to ownership of The Holiday Motor Inn in Wilmington (the Lussis were unsuccessfully sued by the National chain for infringement of trademark) to building and franchising the Holiday Inn on Olympic Drive which eventually became the current Crown Plaza upon the Lussis’ acquisition of the old Lake Placid Club’s property and its three golf courses. In our interview, Serge and Caroline warmly acknowledged the help they received in their early years in the business from Bill Millington, a lawyer from Glens Falls and from Sam Hoar from the prominent Boston law firm, Goodwin, Proctor, and Hoar, who defended them in the lawsuit. The Crown Plaza with its golf, tennis, and boat tours on Lake Placid is a popular stop for thousands of visitors throughout the year.


The contributions of Serge and Caroline to the community have been impressive. Caroline has received an honorary doctorate from Paul Smith’s College, (where she termed multiple terms as a trustee) and is a member of the Lake Placid Hall of Fame (as is Serge). She has been on the board of directors of other institutions and groups including the Lake Placid Hospital, The Shore Owners Association, and The Adirondack Chapter Nature Conservancy. Beyond his work with the USSA, Serge has been Chairman of the Board of the Trudeau Institute, President of both the Wilmington and Lake Placid Chambers of Commerce.


One year after Serge’s brother Craig sent his daughter, Diana ‘78, to Northwood, Serge and Caroline sent their oldest son, Arthur, for the most practical of reasons; Arthur was a strong skier and we provided free transportation to Whiteface and races all over the East. Once Arthur had been at the school for a while, they developed a real fondness for both Headmaster John Friedlander, who “knew the kids well and who along with the varied and committed faculty focused upon not only preparing a student for college but helping him or her develop a strong sense of self and worth.” Soon after Arthur came Cristina, and Katrina (that trio has now taken over the management of the hotel and a generation later, four grandchildren. Kalen ’12, Art ’14, Kylie ’18 and Lars ’21, who were soccer players, hockey players, golfers and skiers at Northwood. Northwood is much indebted to the generations of Lussis who have represented Northwood well as students, athletes, and people.