The Ahwanee Hotel Lives!

The once and future Ahwanee Hotel.Kevin Drum

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Here’s some good news to take the taste of Trump out of your mouth. The dreadful new names plastered on the hotels and villages of Yosemite National Park a few years ago are finally being removed and the historic old names are being restored:

The Majestic Yosemite can be called the Ahwahnee Hotel again. The National Park Service on Monday reached a $12-million settlement in a long-running legal battle with Yosemite’s former facilities operator that permits that name — and several others — to be restored to their historic attractions.

….The dispute began in 2015 after Delaware North Companies Inc., which had operated the park’s restaurants, hotels and outdoor activities, lost a $2-billion contract renewal bid to rival Aramark. Delaware North sued, claiming that when it took over operations in 1993, it had been required to purchase the previous concessionaire’s intellectual property, which included the names of the attractions. The company wanted to be paid more than $50 million to allow Aramark to continue using the disputed names.

Curry Village, a collection of cabins that had carried the name since the 1880s, became Half Dome Village. Yosemite Lodge at the Falls was renamed Yosemite Valley Lodge. Wawona Hotel was renamed Big Trees Lodge, and Badger Pass Ski Area became Yosemite Ski & Snowboard Area. For about three years, signs advertising many of the attractions were simply covered with tarps bearing the temporary names.

On Monday, the tarps came down.

This whole sordid episode was solely the result of Delaware North’s greed. There was never any question that the Park Service would have to pay them for their intellectual property when their contract ended, but Delaware North tried to squeeze an absurd $44 million price for it. The $12 million price they finally settled on is far closer to fair market value. Of that, the feds will pay $4 million and Aramark, the new concessionaire, will pay $8 million. In 2031 rights to the names will revert permanently to the Park Service.

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DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America will move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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