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Ok...so many of us have been waiting to hear about the Yellowstone deal. Will Xanterra keep it? Rumored Disney desired? DNC? Aramark? Forever? It's a big package. The new deal is coming with a 20-year contract, but the winner is expected to soend more than $100 million dollars before 2018. (and some of that is for new employee housing in some areas.) But the current contract with Xanterra runs through November, so I'm not expecting to see any decision until late spring/early summer.
In the meantime...Shenandoah is now run by Delaware North Companies. They took over the beginning of this month. The facilities were previously one of Aramark's properties. Their season begins soon, I think it begins end of March or early April.
Two other parks that are accepting prospectus of note: Glacier and Everglades. Both are requiring significant expenditures too...not nearly as high as Yellowstone's though. Everglades includes building some cabins and eco-tents at Flamingo.
I would like to see Aramarck, but doubt they will get it since they lost Shenendoah..... Forever can't manage the North Rim and Bryce Canyon without all the crama, employee disatisfaction and turnover. I am not impressed with Vail after having the priviledge to meet with their Prsident / CEO, and their VP's of Human Resources, business development and other areas during the summer of 2012 at Jackson Lake Lodge. I also don't wannt to see any individual company have a monopoly on the area with Yellowstone and the Tetons..... Xanterra lost Stovepipe in Death Valley and it sounds like they may not pursue Yellowstone as much as other companies.... I would rather see Xanterra keep Yellowstone or Aramarck and leave Vail in the Tetons.....
I'm not sure if we can correctly use "lost" when referring to past concessionaires. A preferred status is a very high standard, so when the contract is ending, everyone has an even chance. There are also times, when a management company may decide that their resources could be better utilized elsewhere and not put much of an effort for another contract.
I did not hear anything about Bryce and the North Rim this 2012 season. Their problems will probably even out soon, if they haven't already. I think they expanded a little faster than their base, they will catch up. But Yellowstone would be a large expansion too and a lot of money in the front end of the contract. I could see them going after Glacier and/or the Everglades and doing very well, but Yellowstone might be to much $$ and too much headaches.
I could see Disney following the Princess model. Building their own resorts in the area of a park, but still outside its borders. But I don't see the working well with another agency...in this case the NPS. Without total control, I don't think they will be involved.
I only see the big three, Aramark/Xanterra/DNC, as being ready with deep enough pockets and large park experience as being capable of handling the Yellowstone lodging contract.
I think the Everglades is possibly the best bet...as long as you can deal with the hurricane threat.
I agree with your thoughts.... Do you think the NPS would want to have DNC having a monopoly in the park with the General Stores and now the lodging that would come with the contract? I don't think they would.... My guess is Xanterra will probably eke out a bidding contract battle with Aramark, if the owner of Xanterra doesn't try to get out the major locations which has been rumored and illustrated by his contracted given up in the South Rim, Bryce Canyon, Washington, Stovepipe in Death Valley and potentially with the South Rim contract ecpiring in 2014 and Zion in 2015..... This is a great topic! Let the bidding begin....
Aside from the fact that I think some mistakes are being made in the proposed changes to facilities, I believe Xanterra should get it and I think they have the best chance. Not only would another concessioner have to spend the large sum on improvements demanded by the contract, they would also have to pay Xanterra for certain things Xanterra has put money into. I think, for the most part, that Xanterra has done a good job in working with the NPS, in running their business, and in following the environmental program they have. I do not want to see a monopoly there (should DNC get the contract) and personally, I am NOT impressed with the "quality" of DNC's guest service (personal experience.) I also seriously wonder if the saturation point as far as being able to squeeze out maximum revenue is getting close. Perhaps not, given the increase in foreign visitors.... but with the decision to possibly make the Columbine dorm into Hostel-like visitor housing, and turning employee cabins back into paid-guest use as well (employee housing would be added in govt area), I believe that while they'd get a little more money from lodging, I think that segment of the market would not increase revenue in other areas overall while dramatically increasing impact. Free hiking and etc as opposed to spending on food and souvenirs and tours. I think prices have gotten too high but then I also think Yellowstone's front country areas have gotten far too crowded. Parking lots are inadequate, increased trash and littering... and who knows how much stupidity-driven behavior around animals and thermal features. Very concerned that conservation is being sold out for what won't be the big revenue dream they think. I believe in balance between conservation and visitor use. I have worked in the park for a number of summers. Decreased staffing for NPS garbage and clean-up efforts around thermal areas to me is already taking a toll. I've never seen as much garbage around certain geyser areas as I did this past summer. The realities of some segments of humanity's nature are that with less NPS presence, vandalism and other asinine behavior will only increase. There hasn't been enough enforcement in the park for years. Increase numbers without more enforcement? Bye bye, sensitive areas :(
These are some random thoughts I've had on this issue... I think if they don't smarten up about impact and behavior issues they may just end up getting more than they can handle. In a dream world, the wonderful efforts of the NPS to educate guests would pay off far more and everyone would behave themselves.. Not going to happen.
I would also be curious about what sorts of things are in that contract as regards to employees. Numbers, hours, conditions, etc. I've heard that the decision will be announced in May as to who gets the new contract.
JUST MY OPINION, folks.
David and Kay Scott have interesting articles on the National Parks Traveler website which offers some details of the prospectus for Yellowstone, Glacier and Everglades:
I think the contract will go to which ever company proposes the best details and has the financial capability to carry out those plans. I do not think they would necessarily penalize Delaware North for 20 years just because they run some services in Yellowstone. Concessionaires are expected to put money back into the facilities...in some cases millions. If some other company takes over with a new contract they do not have to pay previous companies.
I do not know much about about what is going on but I would be happy to see Xanterra go cause I would love to go work in Yellowstone again (but not for Xanterra).
I think we missed mentioning one of the more exciting moves last year. The Ortega company has the contract for Volcanoes National Park on the big island of Hawaii. Recently they posted a listing on CoolWorks for a couple of top management jobs. This could become a hot property, excuse the pun, with a ton of people wanting to work there. The Ortega company is known primarily by frequent visitors to this site by running Stovepipe Wells in Death Valley.
From the National Park Concession website on Feb 12th:
The National Park Service plans to issue 26 prospectuses for up to 45 concession contracts before September 30, 2013, covering some of the premier concession locations at Yosemite National Park, Grand Canyon National Park, Cape Hatteras National Seashore, and Denali National Park. This list also include many smaller operations featuring unique recreation activities.
Log Cabin Resort was recently put up for the bidding process. It is currently one of Aramark's Olympic properties. A brief look at the cover letter said no company bid on it the last time.
And I don't think it has been mentioned in this thread yet that Xanterra retained the Yellowstone bid.
Denali is also going out for bids on their concession contract this winter.