The original names of popular landmarks in Yosemite National Park, including the Ahwahnee hotel, were restored Monday morning after a more than three-year legal dispute involving the park’s former concessioner, its new concessioner, and the United States government was settled.
Delaware North, the former park concessioner that was replaced by Aramark in 2015, will receive a total of $12 million from the U.S. and Philadelphia-based hospitality giant Aramark for the rights to names like the Ahwahnee hotel, Wawona Hotel, and Curry Village, in addition to other intellectual property.
“We’ve been vigilant from the very beginning to have the names restored,” said Scott Gediman, spokesman for the National Park Service. “We’re just really excited and feel that the settlement is best for everyone and concludes a lengthy lawsuit that could have continued for years.”
Names to the locations within the park formerly operated by Delaware North were changed in March 2016 in an attempt to deflate the company’s claims.
Curry Village in Yosemite Valley, which traces its roots to 1899, became known as Half Dome Village. Wawona Hotel, built south of the valley in 1876, changed to the Big Trees Lodge. The Ahwahnee hotel, completed in 1927, was dubbed Majestic Yosemite Hotel.
Yosemite Ski and Snowboard Area will also return to being called Badger Pass Ski Area, its name since opening in the 1930s. The Yosemite Valley Lodge, formerly the Yosemite Lodge at the Falls, will keep its current name.
A banner across the sign for Curry Village that displayed its name since March 2016 was removed by park officials Monday morning shortly after the settlement was finalized.
Signs throughout the park were also being changed back to the original names, a process that officials said could take several months to fully complete. Gediman said other things, such as menus and in-room directories at the hotels, will also be changed back to the original names.
Gediman said the agreement was signed by attorneys from the federal Department of Justice, Aramark, and Delaware North, and was approved by a judge in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims.
They hadn’t calculated how much the government has already spent fighting the lawsuit.
Delaware North will receive $3,840,000 from the U.S. and $8,160,000 from Aramark through the settlement. The company based in Buffalo, New York, previously claimed the assets in dispute were valued at $51 million based on an appraisal it commissioned for 32 trademarks, internet domain names and other property.
Requests for comment from Delaware North were not returned on Monday.
Aramark will be allowed to operate the facilities with their original names for the duration of its 15-year contract that lasts through 2031, though ownership of the names will revert back to the federal government at the end of the contract.
“That’s effectively like Aramark buying the names for the remainder of their contract,” Gediman said.
Gediman said the lawsuit triggered a change to how the park service writes contracts with concessioners in all national parks, so that the same issue doesn’t happen again when other contracts switch hands.
Delaware North filed the lawsuit in September 2015, three months after losing out to Aramark for the park’s concessions contract that was estimated to be worth $2 billion. It had held onto the contract since 1993.
“The settlement is a real positive step forward,” Gediman said. “It’s an excellent resolution, we’re happy about it, and Aramark has been a great partner who has been with us through the entire process.”
Contact Alex MacLean at email@example.com or (209) 588-4530.