Va. Guests Welcome Back a ‘Long Lost Friend’

July 15, 2013 by · Comments Off on Va. Guests Welcome Back a ‘Long Lost Friend’ 

In early June, the grass at the Peaks of Otter Lodge and Restaurant in southwest Virginia had grown waist high, and cobwebs and dust besmirched the interior.

The 63-room attraction on the Blue Ridge Parkway had been vacant since December after the company that previously managed the site did not renew a contract with the National Park Service, The Daily Progress, Charlottesville, reported.

In the past few weeks, workers arrived from Delaware North Cos. Parks & Resorts, the new management company, and began sprucing up the rustic buildings overlooking Abbott Lake and nestled between the area’s signature mountain peaks, Flat Top and Sharp Top.

This weekend, the refurbished landmark attraction opened again to visitors, marking a new chapter in the lodge’s 49-year history. Many welcomed it back like a long-lost friend.

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Virginia’s Peaks of Otter Lodge Opens July 15

June 5, 2013 by · Comments Off on Virginia’s Peaks of Otter Lodge Opens July 15 

The new concessionaire operating the Peaks of Otter Lodge and Restaurant on the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia’s Bedford County announced Tuesday (June 4) that the facility will reopen July 15 and remain open through Dec. 15, the Roanoke Times reported.

Delaware North Cos. Parks and Resorts began booking reservations Tuesday for overnight stays and events during that five-month period. Laura Gray, a company spokeswoman, said the restaurant, gift shop and other amenities also will open July 15.

Delaware North anticipates filling about 72 seasonal jobs at the Peaks of Otter and is hiring.

The National Park Service reported in April that Delaware North had won a 10-year contract to operate the concessions at Peaks of Otter. The property, which had been open year-round since 1977, had closed in November after a previous management company opted not to renew its contract. The Park Service solicited bids for operating the facilities at milepost 86 on the parkway.

Delaware North is also beginning its first season as concessionaire at Shenandoah National Park, where it operates Big Meadows Lodge, Skyland Resort and Lewis Mountain Cabins. The privately held, international company has operated lodges, restaurants and other concessions at several national parks, including Yellowstone, Yosemite and Grand Canyon.

In April, Delaware North reported that once the lodge reopened, its season would typically run from April through November. Gray said Tuesday that it’s not yet clear what the dates will be for the 2014 season.

Pam Wightman, a human resources manager for Delaware North, said the company ultimately will fill about 72 seasonal positions at Peaks of Otter. She said she will accept applications from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday at the Bedford Chamber of Commerce, 305 E. Main St. She can be contacted at or by calling (540) 843-2117. The website has a Peaks of Otter listing.

Three lodge buildings at the site house a total of 63 rooms. Delaware North said it plans over time to add “modern upgrades,” which would include television and wireless Internet throughout the lodge, as well as new linens and decor in each of the guest rooms.

The company said it is developing a menu for the Peaks of Otter Restaurant, which it said “will provide a diverse range of fresh produce, healthy and sustainable food options and locally grown or sourced items.”


A Closer Look at Yosemite Hantavirus Fight

May 28, 2013 by · 1 Comment 

Curry Village has become ground zero of a multimillion-dollar effort to make Yosemite National Park safe — or as safe as any rural place can be — from an illness carried by mice who can burrow into a hole the width of a pencil. Changes to the park’s far-flung facilities will get tested this summer, as an expected 1.8 million visitors fan out across its 1,200 square miles and share turf with all sorts of wild beasts, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The park visitors who contracted hantavirus had inhaled large quantities of dust containing urine, saliva and fecal matter from infected deer mice. To try to keep that from happening again, workers have been plugging crannies in buildings, hanging screens on staff and guest lodgings, and reinforcing “bear boxes,” all to keep the little critters from nesting anywhere near people.

It’s an undertaking that’s considerably more difficult than guarding against ferocious predators, said Mark Gallagher, environmental manager at Yosemite for Delaware North Cos., which operates Curry Village and other lodging facilities in the park.

“Keeping a bear out is easy — your enclosure just has to be strong,” Gallagher said. “With a mouse, you really have to pay attention to detail.”

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Feds: Hantavirus Outbreak Response Proper

May 21, 2013 by · Comments Off on Feds: Hantavirus Outbreak Response Proper 

Federal investigators probing the hantavirus outbreak blamed for three deaths at Yosemite National Park recommended on Monday (May 20) that design changes to tent cabins and other privately run lodging first be reviewed by National Park Service (NPS) officials.

The report released by the Interior Department’s Office of Inspector General found that park officials responded to last summer’s outbreak appropriately and within department policy, the Macon (Ga.) Telegraph reported.

“When the outbreak was identified, NPS mobilized to contain and remediate the outbreak and to prevent further outbreaks,” Mary Kendall, a deputy inspector general, wrote in a letter attached to the report.

Still, the report found that current policy didn’t require park officials to approve design changes made to the “Signature tent cabins” by concessionaire Delaware North Cos. Parks and Resorts, which added rafters and wall studs to the structures.

Investigators determined that deer mice, which can carry the illness, nested inside the double walls of the new tents in Yosemite’s family friendly Curry Village.

At least eight of the nine tourists who fell ill stayed in the tent cabins.

Because the changes to the cabins were considered routine maintenance, current park service policy did not require prior approval, the report found.

The report also recommended that the park service begin cyclical pest monitoring and inspections of all public accommodations.

While there is a current pest monitoring program at Yosemite, Delaware North was responsible for Curry Village, which was not considered at high risk for hantavirus.

The company issued a statement late Monday saying it would follow the recommendations in the report.

“DNC Parks & Resorts at Yosemite has consistently worked hand-in-hand with the National Park Service and public health officials on this issue,” spokeswoman Lisa Cesaro said in the statement. “The Signature Tent Cabins have been removed from Curry Village. We are following the recommendations by the National Park Service, which were developed in consultation with the California Department of Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.”

Prior to the outbreak, Delaware only responded to pests in the cabins when visitors or housekeeping staff complained, the report said.


Shenandoah Park Welcomes New Concessioner

January 7, 2013 by · Comments Off on Shenandoah Park Welcomes New Concessioner 

Delaware North Cos. Parks & Resorts today (Jan. 7) launched a number of lodging packages and began taking reservations for accommodations at scenic Shenandoah National Park in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia.

According to a news release, well-appointed guest rooms and cabins for the 2013 season at Shenandoah’s Skyland Resort, Big Meadows Lodge and Lewis Mountain Cabins can be booked online at or toll-free by telephone at (877) 247-9261. Delaware North’s central reservations office is open 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. EST Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. EST on Saturday and Sunday.

The Skyland Resort, a complex of buildings and cabins perched at the highest point of the ever-popular, 105-mile Skyline Drive through the park, opens for the season on March 28, followed by the April 5 opening of the historic, furnished Lewis Mountain Cabins, which are nestled in a beautifully wooded area of the park.

Big Meadows Lodge, built in 1939 with stones cut from nearby Massanutten Mountain and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, opens on May 15. It features a main lodge, five cabins and six multiunit buildings. The interiors of the main lodge’s rooms feature authentic wood paneling made from native chestnut trees that are now virtually extinct.

All of the accommodations are conveniently located near the Shenandoah River – the legendary river now highly popular for canoeing, kayaking and white-water rafting – the lovely Shenandoah Valley and Luray, Va.

Delaware North, a global hospitality management company that serves millions of guests at Yosemite and several other national parks, was selected in October by the U.S. National Park Service as the new concessioner at Shenandoah National Park. Under a 10-year contract, Delaware North will take over operation of the lodging, retail shops, food and beverage, and other commercial services Feb. 1.

“Shenandoah is one of the most beautiful and accessible national parks, so it’s a great honor to be entrusted with operating guest services here for the National Park Service,” said Rick Abramson, president of Delaware North Companies Parks & Resorts. “We have a long-standing commitment of providing exemplary stewardship and hospitality and will do everything we can to elevate the guest experience at this historic park.”

In the coming months at Shenandoah, Delaware North will implement the company’s customer service program, GuestPath, as well as its environmental management program, GreenPath.

To mark the start of its handling of reservations, Delaware North is offering several lodging packages and other discounts at both the Skyland Resort and Big Meadows Lodge:

  • The Bed & Breakfast Package includes room accommodations and a full American breakfast each morning of a guest’s stay. Room type and rates are based on availability.
  • The Skyline Sweetheart Getaway includes room accommodations, a welcome amenity, bottle of Virginia wine, chocolate dipped strawberries and full American breakfast the following morning. The package includes a 5% discount on the best available rate during non-peak season. Room type and rates are based on availability.
  • The Shenandoah Spectacular Package allows guests to enjoy Shenandoah National Park for two nights and receive the third night free with the purchase of a $50 meal voucher. The food voucher is not valid for alcoholic beverages and is redeemable in the restaurants at Skyland Resort and Big Meadows Lodge.

Rate is based on promotional availability. There may be room accommodations that are not available for this offer and black-out dates apply, which include but are not limited to May 24, 25, 26; July 4, 5, 6; Aug. 30, 31, Sept. 1; Sept. 20 through Nov. 2; and Nov. 27, 28, 29.

Delaware North also offers a 10% discount on the best available rate for Shenandoah lodging to AAA members, AARP members and active duty, reserve or retired U.S. armed services personnel.


Delaware North Cos. Leaders Shifting Roles

October 19, 2012 by · Comments Off on Delaware North Cos. Leaders Shifting Roles 

Delaware North Cos. is shuffling its leadership ranks, led by the move of Rick Abramson, the head of the Buffalo-based company’s concessions business, to the top spot at its parks and resorts unit, the Buffalo News reported.

Abramson, who has been president of Delaware North Cos. Sportservice business since 2004, will take over as president of Delaware North Cos. Parks & Resorts operations, which includes its U.S. national parks contracts as well as its ventures in New Zealand and Australia.

John Wentzell, who has spent the last six years as president of Delaware North Cos. Boston and Delaware North Cos. International, will replace Abramson as president of Sportservice, which provides concessions at more than 50 venues throughout North America and other sites in the United Kingdom.

The company also named Kevin Kelly, who has been president of Delaware North Cos. Parks & Resorts since 2005, to the newly created role as vice president of shared services for Delaware North’s global operations.

Jim Houser, currently Delaware North’s vice president of administration, will become chief operating officer of Delaware North Cos. Parks & Resorts.

The appointments, all based in Buffalo, will take effect at the beginning of next year, said Charles E. Moran, Delaware North’s president and chief operating officer.