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Hilo, Hawaii News, Sports, & Information Tuesday, May 24, 2016

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Posted: Tuesday, March 27th, 2012 5:25 AM HST

National Park Service awards concession contract for Volcano House

By 67AM KPUA News

The National Park Service announced it has awarded a 15-year concession contract to Hawaii Volcanoes Lodge Company, LLC to operate the overnight accommodations, food and beverage, retail, and related services within Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.

Hawaii Volcanoes Lodge Company, LLC, is a Hawaii-based company, owned by Ortega National Parks, LLC and Aqua Hotels and Resorts, Inc. Ortega National Parks, LLC, has more than 45 years of hospitality experience and over 16 years' experience operating concessions within National Park Service (NPS) sites, including Bandelier, White Sands, Muir Woods, Carlsbad Caverns, and Death Valley. The locally based Aqua Hotels and Resorts, Inc. manages 18 hotels and resorts in Hawaii on five islands.

“Together, these two companies have extensive hospitality industry experience - both nationally, as well as within the tate of Hawaii. We are very excited to have Hawaii Volcanoes Lodge Company, LLC join with us as we enter a new era of the Volcano House operation and once again share quality visitor services with over 1.4 million annual visitors to the park,” stated Park Superintendent Cindy Orlando.

Since 1824, a structure has been on the edge of Kīlauea caldera to shelter park visitors. Mark Twain wrote in 1866 that '[t]he surprise of finding a good hotel in such an outlandish spot startled me considerably more than the volcano did.'

“We look forward to working with Hawaii Volcanoes Lodge Company, LLC to continue to inspire this sense of wonder over the Volcano House,” Orlando said.

The concessioner will operate the Volcano House as well as Namakanipaio campground, and other smaller locations within the park. Since the previous operator left at the end of 2009, the NPS has invested over $4 million in upgrades to the Volcano House for fire and safety improvements, including seismic upgrades. As a requirement of the new contract, Hawaii Volcanoes Lodge Company, LLC will complete additional renovations on the facility estimated between $2.5 and $3.5 million. The contract will be for a term of 15 years and a required minimum franchise fee, paid to the NPS, of 6.0% used to help maintain facilities and other critical visitor services.

As required by the 1998 Concessions Management Improvement Act, the NPS solicited for proposals from July 25 through October 25, 2011, for the commercial services provided within Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Offerors were evaluated on their responses to questions asked, including how to engage and educate the visiting public on the native Hawaiian culture through interpretive experiences and retail services, including the sale of Native Hawaiian handicrafts and cultural demonstrations. Additional guidelines used to evaluate proposals can be found online at www.nps.gov/commercialservices.

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