It is official: on January 1st, Delaware North rung in the New Year at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon initiating their new concessions contract with the National Park Service. Over 5 million people from across the globe visit the Grand Canyon annually; 90% of whom visit the Park’s South Rim.
For the next 15 years, the company will operate lodging, retail, and food and beverage services to park visitors including:
- Yavapai Lodge (358 rooms) and Restaurant, Bar, and Retail
- General Store
- Trailer Village
- Camper Services
- General Store
- Trading Post
- Service Station
Resources: Many months prior to the takeover, the transition team was developed, which included an experienced Delaware North representative from each major department. A checklist of deliverables was used to assist in planning the details. The transition team met over weekly conference calls discussing progress and coordinating efforts.
Even though there was a lot of prep work completed ahead of time, there was, and still is, quite a bit of work to accomplish on the ground.
Timing: At the stroke of midnight, the keys and responsibility for their new operations were handed over to Delaware North so that they could access facilities and put actions into place on the ground. Because the National Park Service redistributed concession services for the Grand Canyon’s two contracts, it made for a unique opening. Delaware North continued to operate at the Marketplace Village and Desert View General Stores so there was no real change to those operations. Some of the newly acquired services would open a mere eight hours after becoming the company’s responsibility (Desert View Trading Post and Service Station); these facilities are open year round. Other facilities were closed for the season (Yavapai Lodge, Restaurant, and Camper Services). The company has planned a major renovation of the restaurant at Yavapai Lodge and is currently working on putting systems in place and rooms on-line for the first guests in March.
In order to open the Desert View Trading Post, Delaware North started with a blank slate – there were no fixtures, retail product, or food for the snack bar. To accomplish this feat, retail products, displays, and signs were ordered months before and delivered on site the day the company acquired the contract. An onsite team cleaned (light fixtures, wood beams, windows, walls, and floors), hauled and unpacked fixtures and products, merchandised, organized extra product in the stockroom, and removed recycling/trash.
It may be deceiving to think that the Grand Canyon is as warm and sunny as Phoenix, Arizona however; the South Rim sits at approximately 6,900 feet above sea level and has cool temperatures and snowfall in the winter months. On New Year’s Eve, the night of the transition, a winter storm rolled into the area and nearly a foot of snow fell. Various accidents and treacherous road conditions forced the NPS to close the road and a team of 16 was stranded at Desert View. The group rung in the New Year by eating a gourmet dinner of nachos and pizza, celebrated with a few party favors and pictures, and fell fast asleep in sleeping bags on the sales floor of the adjacent General Store where they were safe and warm. Morning came early and the team rallied to put the final touches on the store, which was transformational!
Not only was the store transformed but so was the park; with a blanket of glittering snow covering the Grand Canyon and think clouds moving out of the area, the sun came out and provided warmth even in the single digit temperatures. This setting provided a unique perspective of this natural wonder. Once the road opened, park visitors found their way to Desert View and Delaware North was open for business.
John Kenny is the new General Manager for the Grand Canyon operation and brings many years of experience and passion to Delaware North. He will lead the Grand Canyon team on the implementation of many projects and achievements which will be shared in future issues of the GreenPath Newsletter.
Last but not least, thank you to the existing and new staff at the Grand Canyon, the Corporate Office, those from the Yellowstone region, and countless others who were unable to be there in person but who were instrumental in this transition – it couldn’t have been accomplished so successfully without you!