NPS selects Aramark over Delaware North

The National Park Service (NPS) has selected Yosemite Hospitality, LLC, a subsidiary of Aramark, to receive the new primary concession contract for providing visitor services in Yosemite National Park. The 15-year contract worth nearly $2 billion is expected to begin on March 1, 2016, and will include overnight accommodations, food and beverage operations, retail sales, fuel sales, bike and raft rentals, and a variety of other recreational activities throughout the park.

“We’re very excited about bringing on Aramark to operate our primary concessions,” stated Yosemite Superintendent Don Neubacher. “Aramark brings tremendous resources to the table and has extensive experience in operating concessions at many other national parks. We believe they’ll be a great partner with us at Yosemite as we work to implement the vision of the Merced River Plan.”

Aramark has gross revenues of $14.8 billion and employs more than 270,000 employees in 21 countries and currently holds eight other NPS contracts with gross revenues of more than $110 million in 2013.

Aramark will provide a variety of services to the public, including continuing to operate the Yosemite Valley shuttle system free of charge to all visitors. Additionally, under the new contract, concession operations will achieve several operational improvements including reducing vehicle traffic in Yosemite Valley, increasing water conservation, reducing electricity and fuel usage, and enhancing food and beverage operations for visitors.

“We’re excited and honored to have been selected by NPS to serve as Yosemite’s concessioner,” David Freireich, Aramark Corporate Communications, said. “Specific details about our plans will be announced over the next few months, but I can tell you our goal is to elevate the guest and visitor experience by introducing new offerings, upgrading amenities, and enhancing existing programs.”

“The NPS is a longtime and valued partner and we look forward to enhancing Yosemite’s guest experience with a variety of distinctive hospitality and service offerings and educational and interpretive programming,” said Bruce W. Fears, president of Aramark’s Leisure division. “Yosemite is one of America’s most treasured resources and important natural preserves and we are excited to work with the NPS as a steward of the park’s rich history and to help shape its legacy moving forward.”

The contract has been sent to Aramark for signature and, once signed, will be transmitted to Congress for a 60-day notice period as stipulated by law. After this period, the NPS will sign and award the contract, then work with the existing concessioner and Aramark to complete an orderly transition.

DNC Parks and Resorts at Yosemite, Inc. has operated under the existing contract since 1993, grossing over $146 million in 2014. They recently completed a well-received upgrade to the furnishings in all rooms at Yosemite Lodge and have operated and maintained two of the park’s National Historic Landmarks and major visitor attractions, The Ahwahnee and the Wawona Hotel, completing numerous upgrades to these facilities over the course of their contract.

“Throughout its tenure as the park’s primary concessioner, DNC Parks and Resorts at Yosemite, Inc. provided quality services and unforgettable experiences to millions of visitors,” said Neubacher. “We appreciate all of their work.”

In a prepared statement, a spokesman for Delaware North said the company is proud of the hospitality, stewardship, and community support provided by its operating subsidiary, DNC Parks & Resorts (Delaware North at Yosemite), in Yosemite National Park for more than 22 years.

“Although we are disappointed that Delaware North at Yosemite was not selected to continue its decades of service in Yosemite National Park, we would like to congratulate Aramark on being awarded the Yosemite concession contract,” the statement read. “Delaware North has a passion for national parks, and we remain committed to our Yosemite operation, providing quality hospitality for park visitors through the contract period ending February 29, 2016. Delaware North is focused on providing a smooth transition for Yosemite associates and park visitors.”

Prior to 1998, concession law provided broad rights granting preferential right of renewal to incumbent concessioners. Since 1998, with the passage of an act reforming concessions management, issuance of most concession contracts generally became subject to fair and open competition with no preferential right of renewal for the incumbent and bids are evaluated and awarded via a competitive process.