Ahwahnee By Any Other Name Would Be…Majestic

Mar 02, 2016

Ahwahnee Hotel in YosemiteWe previously posted about the dispute between the National Park Service and Yosemite’s former concessionaire, Delaware North, over the trademark ownership of many historic Yosemite sites, including the Ahwahnee Hotel, Badger Pass, and Curry Village.

As of today, a new concessionaire officially takes over for Delaware North.  However, due to its ongoing trademark dispute with Delaware North, Yosemite has renamed many of its recreational areas to more uncontroversial names.  Have a reservation for the Ahwahnee Hotel?  You’re now staying at the Majestic Yosemite Hotel.  Hitting the slopes at Badger Pass?  Welcome to the Yosemite Ski & Snowboard Area.  Camping in Curry Village?  I think you mean Half Dome Village.

Those wedded to the old Yosemite names shouldn’t abandon all hope.  The name changes may only be temporary, depending on the outcome of any settlement agreement, litigation, or other contractual arrangement between the Park Service, Delaware North, and the new concessionaire.  But any workable solution may proceed at a glacial pace, given that Delaware North previously demanded $51 million in exchange for the rights to the names, while the Park Service only valued the trademarks at $3.5 million.


Ahwahnee, By Any Other Name

Jan 16, 2015

Yosemite Logo


What’s in a name? Apparently $51 million.

The National Park Service is currently looking for a new concessionaire to manage hotels, transportation, recreation activities, and other facilities and services in Yosemite National Park.  The Park Service estimates that it will likely cost the winning bidder $29 million to buy out its existing concessionaire’s property and inventory in the park.

The problem?  Delaware North, the park’s current concessionaire, claims that it owns the trademarks to the names of some of Yosemite’s most popular sites, such as the Ahwahnee Hotel, Badger Pass, Yosemite Lodge, the Wawona Hotel, and Curry Village – even though the names were in place long before Delaware won the park’s concessions contract in 1993.  These names, according to Delaware, are worth $51 million.  Along with an additional $15 million in “Other Property,” Delaware claims that a winning contractor will have to pay closer to $100 million to buy out all of its property interests in Yosemite.

The Park Service is currently sidestepping the potential trademark issue to encourage other concessionaires to bid: rather than insisting that bidders procure the names, the Park Service will permit the winning concessionaire to rename the sites, subject to approval by the Service.  A new concessionaire could also conceivably negotiate directly with Delaware North to acquire the names at a lower price, if it chooses to do so.  Given that Yosemite has had no trouble attracting campers and visitors (to the point where would-be campers must wake up at 6 a.m. several months in advance to reserve a camping spot), it doesn’t seem likely that a name change will significantly affect the park’s popularity.

Nobody likes change, but sometimes it’s necessary.  Especially if it costs $51 million to maintain the status quo.