The Railroad Fire closed Fish Camp’s Tenaya Lodge to the public for 12 days - but during that time, it continued to function as a staging area, housing 40 hotel emergency workers and 300 firefighters and law enforcement personnel.
This was the first time in 27 years that Tenaya Lodge was closed.
That meant limited staff handled meal preparation, cleaning rooms, keeping generators and water running, according to Paul Ratchford, Regional General Manager for the property owned by Delaware North Corporation.
The total revenue loss was estimated at $1.6 million, which includes the 302-room resort losing a total of 3,500 room nights, and loss from the food outlets, other services and shops.
“That amount will probably grow to more than $2 million,” Ratchford said due to reduced occupancy this coming week. He was anticipating 50% occupancy for Sunday night, the first night the resort was open following its evacuation, and 60% next week. Some rooms were still occupied by firefighters on Sunday.
Typically, occupancy rates run at 90% for September and October, Ratchford noted.
“It gave us a chance to do some spring cleaning,” added Sean Mangold, assistant general manager.
The resort went through 8,000 gallons of diesel fuel keeping generators running.
“We were able to fill the water trucks” for crews responding to various fires in the area, Ratchford said.
The employees who were on site walked the property watching for any ‘spot’ fires that might have been caused by drifting ash or embers, and they performed all of the functions necessary to accommodate those being housed at the facility.
“We are fortunate to have long term managers that have been here 15 years or more,” Ratchford said crediting all of the employees for the work they did in evacuating guests and for keeping the property safe. The resort can accommodate up to 1,000 guests at a time and the night of the evacuation, Tuesday, Aug. 29, the lodge was near full capacity.
Guests had to be notified of the evacuation, which can be difficult when there is no cell phone service in many areas of Yosemite National Park where many had traveled for the day. Guests from 135 of the rooms could not be notified of the evacuation and for the next few days, guests would travel in escorted caravans from Wawona to claim their belongings still in their rooms.
Many of the guests were international travelers and because of itineraries and travel accommodations, they had to leave the area before being able to claim those belongings. The hotel began sending those guests their belongings as they received addresses.
Bonnie Ohm of Rochester, Minnesota, was a resort guest Sunday night. She found accommodations at Half Dome Village after learning of the evacuation of Tenaya. Determined to stay at least one night at the lodge, she was thrilled when it reopened before she was scheduled to leave.
With some heavy equipment still operating in the area, some of the activities offered guests by the hotel such as bicycling, archery and nature and waterfall hikes will be offered as it is safe to do so, Ratchford said.