Glacier Bay Lodge saved

Glacier Bay Lodge was in danger of closing at the end of this season; recent negotiations have changed that. (Photo by Lisa Phu/KTOO)

Glacier Bay Lodge will stay open, at least for another 2 years.

Several weeks of negotiations between National Park Service and the current concessionaires ended yesterday. This resulted in a 2-year extension of the contract held by Aramark and Huna Totem Corporation.

“That will keep the Glacier Bay Lodge open, keep the day tour boat running, as well as other services that they provide in the park, such as the restaurant and the gift shop,” explains John Quinley, spokesman for the National Park Service in Anchorage.

He says the extension begins in January 2014. Before it runs out, NPS plans to put out a new prospectus.

Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve received no bids on its previous proposal for a new 10-year concession contract in January.

Current concessionaires Aramark and Huna Totem Corporation will extend their contract for another two years, allowing Glacier Bay Lodge to stay open. (Photo by Lisa Phu/KTOO)

Based on conversations with Aramark and other companies about why they didn’t bid, Quinley says reasons include costs of operation and maintenance.

“We’re going to be relooking at those numbers and seeing if there are maintenance tasks that perhaps were overstated, if there were things that would better belong on the park service’s side of the ledger, ways to get that work done less expensively perhaps. So we have a lot of work to do to rebuild a prospectus that will get some bidders,” he says.

Glacier Bay Lodge contains 56 rooms, which accounts for about half the lodging available in all of nearby Gustavus, a town of 450 residents.

JoAnn Lesh is president of the Gustavus Visitors Association and owns Gustavus Inn with her husband Dave. She and the association have been working on keeping the lodge open since the end of March.

“Everyone said it couldn’t be done,” she says. “I’m very excited that we will get a chance to have two years of stability for our economy here in Gustavus.”

Lesh says the association is holding a luncheon tomorrow at Glacier Bay Lodge to celebrate.

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