News, Events and Rumors

Contract Open at Mt. Rainier, Possible Repairs to Annex

June 2012

It's concession contract time at Mt. Rainier, both the National Park Inn and Paradise Inn, along with food and beverage concessions at Sunrise, snowshoe rentals and firewood sales at a couple of campgrounds. No word if the current concessionaire, Guest Services, is submitting a bid, but one would assume so. If the contract goes elsewhere, it will require a $3.2 million initial investment to purchase facilities and properties belong to GS. One difference between this contract and most NP lodge contracts is that no other possessory interest will be required. Proposals for the Mount Rainier concession are due at the NPS San Francisco office by October 16, 2012.

Noteworthy to NPLAS readers is that the Park Service intends to do extensive structural and interior work on the Paradise Inn Annex and its 79 rooms, which will close the Annex for 21 months. The Inn will remain open, but with only about a third of its usual bed count. The construction and cost of the rehabilitation is the responsibility of the National Park Service.

New Lodge? • Mt. St. Helens

May 20, 2010

Believe it or not the Feds are making rumblings about the first important new NPS lodge in years...but don't get your hopes up too much. The "lodge" in question is just one possible future for the now-shuttered Coldwater Ridge Visitor Center, a multi-million dollar monstrosity located at Mount Saint Helens. The roadblocks here are that the building isn't a lodge, and the location isn't a National Park.

Since the volcanic monument opened to the public, visitation has been flat, and visitors have been mostly underwhelmed by the Forest Service presentation of the experience. This has led to the idea that perhaps MSH should become a National Park, and the NPS points out that a lodge of some sort would make it more than just a day trip. Thus they've pointed to the Coldwater Ridge Visitor Center, which looks more like a Federal Penitentiary than a Park Lodge.

MSHNP and "lodge" may never come to pass...but the positive take-away is that many within the NPS hierarchy recognize that a lodge would be an integral part to a successful Park.

Many Glacier Hotel • Glacier NP

March 28, 2010

The NPS announced that the next phase of Many Glacier Hotel rehab has been awarded to Swank Enterprises for $9,531,200. This project is broken into two components which address all interior rehabilitation work on the north wing of MGH.

One component addresses administrative offices and approximately 50 percent of guest rooms. The other component includes the Dining Room, Interlaken Lounge, Kitchen, Employee Dining Room and other employee and maintenance areas. The work focuses on correcting life safety and seismic issues.

Although restoration of lost historic elements is not funded as part of this project, where surfaces and fixtures (walls, floors, lighting, etc.) are to be removed for Life/Safety repairs and rehabilitation work, replacement surfaces and fixtures will include historically-compatible surfaces and fixtures.

According to Park Superintendent Chas Cartwright, “The components are being combined to compress the timeline for the work, reduce cost and minimize impact to hotel guests and the public. Construction is scheduled to begin in fall 2010 after the hotel closes for the season, with completion expected by spring of 2012 before the hotel opens for the season. During summer 2011 approximately one half (100) of the hotel guest rooms will be closed for the renovation.” Cartwright added that in 2011, a modified dining room will be available in the space adjacent to the dining room while construction continues on the current dining room space. Full menu service will be available in this area as well as in the adjoining Swiss Lounge.

Through a competitive NPS submission process, the MGH rehabilitation project received $15.6 million of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act stimulus funds. These funds must be obligated no later than September 30, 2010; however, according to Cartwright, the actual work will not begin until after the hotel closes for the season, September 2010.

“The passage of time and harsh environmental conditions has contributed to the historic hotel’s deteriorated condition. Earlier phases of the rehabilitation focused on building exterior, structural stabilization, and most immediate needs. These three phases were completed in 2005 by Swank Enterprises. Funding for the remaining work on the hotel has been requested for 2013 and 2014,” said Cartwright. This work includes lobby, guest rooms and lower level meeting spaces, as well as the south bridge and guest rooms in Annex II or southern half of the hotel. To-date, $10 million federal dollars have been spent in the last decade rehabilitating the MGH, a National Historic Landmark.

Swank Enterprises was established in 1960 by Dean Swank, who is the current company president. Swank maintains offices in Valier and Kalispell, Montana.

Lake Hotel • Yellowstone NP

September 28, 2009

Fire hoses were placed in a number of locations around this historic structure yesterday, a "just in case" measure in light of the Arnica Fire. Arnica has covered 13 square miles thus far. Measures are also being taken in nearby Grand Teton NP due to similar fires near Jackson Lake.

Evergreen Lodge • Yosemite NP

April 21, 2009

This popular 1920s lodge/resort complex located near Hetch-Hetchy today announced that four new cabins have opened for the 2009 season. Evergreen is currently unclassified, but understanding the shortage of beds within the park, this announcement is mildly significant.

Furnace Creek Inn • Death Valley NP

October 10, 2008

Furnace Creek Inn operator Xanterra Parks & Resorts did an extensive interior upgrade during the off-season. The project includes new furniture for the lobby, lobby bar, guest room verandas and front lobby patio; 32-inch flat-screen televisions in all 66 guest rooms; bathroom fixtures and vanity lighting; box springs, mattresses, bedspreads, coverlets and throw pillows; draperies; luggage racks; guest room art and floral arrangements; in-room radios with IPOD docking; towels, hairdryers and other in-room amenities. "Although the furniture is new, it still reflects the elegance of the 1930s when the Inn was newly opened," said Phil Dickinson, director of sales and marketing for the Furnace Creek Inn & Ranch Resort.

Overall Lodging • Yellowstone NP

February 20, 2008

Xanterra Parks & Resorts has appointed Beth Pratt environmental affairs director in Yellowstone National Park. Pratt is responsible for continuing and strengthening the concessioner's environmental initiatives in the park including energy, water and waste management, pollution prevention, sustainable cuisine, sustainable design and more. Xanterra operates lodging, restaurants, gift shops and activities in the park.

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Rewriting History • September 29, 2009

Random foliage

The National Parks: America's Best Idea is an interesting new series on Public Television from documentary filmmaker Ken Burns. The show may be a bit dramatic at times, but it is an excellent series thus far...with one notable exception. Like most present day journalists, the series writers have bought the National Park Service story that "Yellowstone was the first National Park" hook, line, and sinker. Quoting the NPS' re-scripted history, the Series has thus far neglected to mention that Congress established Hot Springs as the first "National Park" and appears to have totally ignored the fact that Mackinac Island was the third National Park, then turned over to the State of Michigan. The show's commentators incorrectly refer to Sequoia as the third park. The NPLAS supports this series, but unfortunately The National Parks: America's Best Idea appears to be withholding some historic facts for the sake of storyline.