Yosemite National Park Concession Prospectus Includes Significant Lodging Changes
The recently issued prospectus for operation of the majority of Yosemite National Park’s concession facilities includes several significant changes related to the park’s lodging. Lodging, a major revenue generator for the winning bidder (and the National Park Service), is expected to generate from $52-$57 million in 2016, the year the new lease kicks in. This is approximately twice the amount the concessionaire is expected to generate in food and beverage sales during the same year. Retail sales generate approximately the same revenue as food and beverage. The new contract will be for 15 years with a beginning date of March 1, 2016.
The most significant lodging change is to occur at Curry Village, where the Park Service is planning to replace 52 canvas tents with cabins that include bathrooms. This will reduce the number of tent cabins at Curry to 351 and increase the number of cabins with bathrooms to 98. Curry also has 14 cabins without bathrooms and 18 motel-type rooms.
The prospectus also calls for removing 34 tent cabins (these are duplex units, meaning 17 structures would be removed) at Housekeeping Camp, leaving 232 of these units. In the High Sierra Camps, half the 22 tents at Merced Lake and four beds at Glen Aulin are to be removed.
The prospectus includes an especially stiff franchise fee of 8.6 percent of the concessionaire’s annual gross revenues. Assuming the new cabins at Curry Village are completed on schedule before the end of the contract’s seventh year, the franchise fee will increase by an additional six-tenths of 1 percent, resulting in a fee of over 9 percent. This compares with NPS fees of 4 percent at Mesa Verde and Sequoia/Kings Canyon national parks, 6 percent at Mount Rainier National Park, and 1 percent at Glacier Bay National Park.
In addition to a 9.2 percent franchise fee, the concessionaire is to pay an annual 2 percent repair-and-maintenance fee. Adding the California sales tax of 7.5 percent, a Mariposa County sales tax of .5 percent, a Mariposa County Transient Occupancy Tax of 10 percent, and a Mariposa County Tourism Business Improvement District Assessment of 1 percent, results in a guest at Yosemite Lodge paying $240 for a room (the price listed on the DNC site for an October stay), $27 of which represents NPS fees, plus another $45 in various sales taxes. Thus, a family staying in Yosemite Lodge will be paying over $70 a night in fees and taxes. An Ahwahnee stay would entail well over $100 per night in fees and taxes.
While the park’s main concession facilities are in Yosemite Valley, the prospectus also covers concession operations at Badger Pass, Crane Flat, Glacier Point, Tuolumne Meadows, Wawona, White Wolf, and the High Sierra Camps. According to the NPS prospectus, each location “…. presents unique opportunities and challenges….”