Yosemite National Park’s historic Ahwahnee Hotel, designed by famed architect Gilbert Stanley Underwood and erected in 1927, will lose its name on March 1 after a legal battle between the National Parks Service and the Delaware North company.
Most of the other famous Yosemite Valley lodgings in California’s largest National Park will lose their names too. The hotel will be renamed as the Majestic Yosemite Hotel.
“The Yosemite Lodge at the Falls will turn into Yosemite Valley Lodge; Wawona Hotel will become Big Trees Lodge; and Badger Pass Ski Area will be called Yosemite Ski & Snowboard Area,” according to the Associated Press. Curry Village will be called Half Dome Village.
The AP noted that the Delaware North company “recently lost a $2 billion bid — the National Park Services largest single contract — to run Yosemite’s hotels, restaurants and outdoor activities,” but the company had trademarked all of the concessions and lodging names. Delaware North now wants “$51 million for the names and other intellectual property.”
“We expected that the NPS would treat us fairly in this process, but instead it feels like we played by the NPS’ rules and the NPS unilaterally changed the game,” the Delaware North Company said at the time of the lawsuit according to The Buffalo News.
“While it is unfortunate that we must take this action, changing the names of these facilities will help us provide seamless service to the American public during the transition to the new concessionaire,” Yosemite Superintendent Don Neubacher said in a statement according to SF Gate. “This action will not affect the historic status of the facilities, as they are still important cultural icons to the National Park Service and the public.”
Yosemite spokesman Scott Gediman said that the change “is not something we did willingly,” and he indicated that the government will attempt to restore the historic names according to the Los Angeles Times.
However, according to SF Gate, Delaware North believes that the National Parks Service is changing the names mostly to turn the public against them.
“DNC Parks and Resorts at Yosemite Inc. is shocked and disappointed that the National Park Service would consider using the beloved names of places in Yosemite National Park as a bargaining chip in a legal dispute … involving basic contract rights,” said Lisa Cesaro, public relations manager for Delaware North according to SF gate.
The Ahwahnee Hotel is one of Yosemite National Park’s most famous landmarks and has an incredibly rich history. The hotel was christened after the original Ahwahneechee Indian name for the Valley. It served as a military hospital for the US Navy during World War II and its famous guests include Ansel Adams, Dwight Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan, and Queen Elizabeth II among many others.