The Ahwanee Hotel Lives!

The once and future Ahwanee Hotel.Kevin Drum

Here’s some good news to take the taste of Trump out of your mouth. The dreadful new names plastered on the hotels and villages of Yosemite National Park a few years ago are finally being removed and the historic old names are being restored:

The Majestic Yosemite can be called the Ahwahnee Hotel again. The National Park Service on Monday reached a $12-million settlement in a long-running legal battle with Yosemite’s former facilities operator that permits that name — and several others — to be restored to their historic attractions.

….The dispute began in 2015 after Delaware North Companies Inc., which had operated the park’s restaurants, hotels and outdoor activities, lost a $2-billion contract renewal bid to rival Aramark. Delaware North sued, claiming that when it took over operations in 1993, it had been required to purchase the previous concessionaire’s intellectual property, which included the names of the attractions. The company wanted to be paid more than $50 million to allow Aramark to continue using the disputed names.

Curry Village, a collection of cabins that had carried the name since the 1880s, became Half Dome Village. Yosemite Lodge at the Falls was renamed Yosemite Valley Lodge. Wawona Hotel was renamed Big Trees Lodge, and Badger Pass Ski Area became Yosemite Ski & Snowboard Area. For about three years, signs advertising many of the attractions were simply covered with tarps bearing the temporary names.

On Monday, the tarps came down.

This whole sordid episode was solely the result of Delaware North’s greed. There was never any question that the Park Service would have to pay them for their intellectual property when their contract ended, but Delaware North tried to squeeze an absurd $44 million price for it. The $12 million price they finally settled on is far closer to fair market value. Of that, the feds will pay $4 million and Aramark, the new concessionaire, will pay $8 million. In 2031 rights to the names will revert permanently to the Park Service.


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