Grand Canyon Wants Bidders for New Lodge, Outdoor Dining in a $1.5 Billion Contract

You know it’s the little extras that make a big difference… like new outdoor dining overlooking the South Rim, valet parking and several food trucks to feed the hungry crowds visiting the Grand Canyon National Park. In order to provide the ultimate Grand Canyon experience, the Park Service is adding all these amenities as well as a new hotel and restored tourist cabins to the popular rim. The upgrade of Arizona’s popular tourist attraction will bring in a combined $1.5 billion in revenue over the next 15 years.

The due date for bids is November for the contracts to operate restaurants, lodging, stores, gift shops, campgrounds, and bus tours for tourists to the national park.
The contracts which will go into effect in 2015 will be awarded next summer.

According to Dave Uberuaga, Grand Canyon National Park superintendent, the more bidders participate, the better service can be provided to visitors and the more return taxpayers can expect.

The contracts are intended to improve the visitor experience at the South Rim Grand Canyon by adding a new 120-room hotel to replace the old-fashioned Maswick South Lodge along with a restoration of historic cabins to add additional 56 rooms.

The Park Service also hopes to receive ideas for restoring the Power House Building, a 1926 National Historic Landmark near Grand Canyon’s train station. Uberuaga notes that the 11,100-square foot building could possibly house a Colorado River boating museum and a Grand Canyon art collection. Since these proposals are optional, the Park Service will consider them separately from the main contracts.

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Nearly 5 million visitors tour Grand Canyon annually. More than 90 percent of tourists visit the South Rim.

The new transportation options are helping improve the visitor experience, but during summer, long waits to enter the park or buy a meal at Bright Angel Lodge, El Tovar, and other Grand Canyon dining options within the park are not unusual.

According to the Park Service, the winning concessionaire will be required to set up 35 additional tables for seasonal outdoor dining at South rim’s El Tovar lounge. At the moment, El Tovar dining room only offers a few tables with windows overlooking the popular rim.

A new valet service would allow tourists to leave their cars at El Tovar instead of having to navigate through busy parking lots near the landmark hotel.

The Park Service is also excited to add two or three food trucks as part of the effort to add more dining options for tourists under the new contracts. The park service is considering pastry and coffee food trucks in the Camper Village and at El Tovar.