Fire Detection and Protection Upgrades Will Close The Ahwahnee In Yosemite National Park for Three Weeks

Needed repairs will shutter The Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite National Park for three weeks beginning Feb. 22. Jess Stryker photo.

Every now and then most structures -- particularly historic structures -- need some repairs. The time for some of those repairs has arrived for the elegant Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite National Park.

Park officials say the work on the hotel's fire detection system, alarms, and suppression system will begin February 22 and run for three weeks, until March 17.

This work includes guest rooms, restaurants, shops, and public spaces at the hotel. Additionally, the parking lot will be closed and the closest public parking will be available at Church Bowl, a park release said.

Beyond those repairs, crews also will work on stabilizing the kitchen floor, replacing the entry boardwalks as well as the service yard fence, and upgrades and replacements of furnishings throughout the hotel. This includes new carpets, drapes, and bedspreads in many of the rooms, painting of guest rooms and public areas, and renovation of many of the artifacts in the hotel, the release added.

About two years ago Yosemite officials thought more substantial work would be needed on the hotel to buttress it against seismic activity. Earthquakes in the Sierra are not unusual, and they have in the past shaken the national park.

In March 2009 Yosemite officials asked their Interior Department bosses for $137 million in stimulus funding to perform the seismic strengthening work. At the time Yosemite spokesman Scott Gediman said that if the money was forthcoming, the work would take a year to get under way -- that time would be spent obtaining the necessary construction permits and allowing the hotel to honor its current reservations.

However, a subsequent seismic report said the hotel would hold up to earthquakes without additional work.

Various repairs on The Ahwahnee have been occurring since September 2010. However, the upcoming planned shutdown is needed to complete the remainder of the work, say park officials.

The Ahwahnee Hotel, completed in 1927, is a registered National Historic Landmark. It was commissioned by Stephen T. Mather, the first director of the National Park Service. Mr. Mather felt that a grand hotel in Yosemite was necessary to host dignitaries and influential people who would support Yosemite and other national parks throughout the country. The Ahwahnee Hotel is widely regarded as the crown jewel of national park lodges.

The Ahwahnee will reopen to the public on March 17 with its restaurants, shops, public spaces, and most guest rooms in service.

The repair work will be conducted by the staff of Yosemite National Park, DNC Parks and Resorts at Yosemite, Inc., and contractors. The project is being funded by the National Park Service and DNC Parks and Resorts at Yosemite, Inc.