You can make your reservation at Glacier Bay Lodge in Glacier Bay National Park without fear of the lodge being closed. The National Park Service has reached a two-year extension with ARAMARK Parks and Destinations to continue operating the lodge on the shores of Bartlett Cove.
There had been concerns that the lodge would be shuttered at the end of this season due to the inability of the Park Service to reach terms with a concessionaire. When the Park Service solicited bids for the lease earlier this year, no one applied, not even ARAMARK. That led to some lobbying by Gustavus businesses, who feared closure of the lodge would impact their livelihoods.
“The Glacier Bay Lodge is a public building and our guests are in there daily,” Joann Lesh, owner of the Gustavus Inn and the president of the Gustavus Visitors Association, told the Juneau Empire. “It’s not just a hotel; it’s a visitor center, a gift shop, they show nightly slide shows and movies. It’s an investment in our community.”
The concession has been operated since 2004 by ARAMARK. The property is in the southern portion of the park at Bartlett Cove, approximately 10 miles from the small community of Gustavus. Visitor access is primarily by scheduled air service on Alaska Airlines that offers summer flights from Seattle via Juneau. The Alaska Marine Highway offers Juneau - Gustavus service, although not daily. The concessionaire is required to provide ground transportation between the lodge and Gustavus.
Glacier Bay Lodge is almost 50 years old, having been constructed by the National Park Service in 1966. The lodge has 56 guest rooms connected by boardwalks to the main building that houses a lobby, restaurant, registration area, gift shop, and NPS visitor center. Eight guest rooms and three separate eight-room dormitories are utilized for employee housing.
Apparently one of the changes in the concession contract the Park Service agreed to was to reduce the daily sailings of the Baranoff Wind boat tours from seven days to six days a week. Additional services under the agreement include camper drop-offs in the bay and services associated with Glacier Bay Lodge - the restaurant, gifts, fuel sales, ground transportation to Gustavus and other services.
"I am pleased to announce that the Glacier Bay Concession operation will continue for the next two years under an extension of the existing concession contract," said Glacier Bay Superintendent Susan L. Boudreau.