When it comes to experiencing the best that nature has to offer, very few places hold a candle to California’s Yosemite National Park, a destination deeply ingrained in the traveler’s psyche since Ansel Adams focused his camera lens on its raw beauty.
It has been said that only those with ice water coursing through their veins will leave the park unmoved because Yosemite is itself an experience—a miracle of nature where the accommodations within it invariably pay homage to their natural surroundings, turning a visit into an exquisite experience.
Nine of the outstanding properties in Yosemite are either owned or managed by Delaware North Companies Parks and Resorts, itself a rarity among hospitality companies because it has managed to remain true to its founding philosophy. This is evident at first glance when entering one of its many properties, strategically placed in some of the most popular locations in the world, but especially in Yosemite. Each property understatedly reflects the vision of its founders who dictated back in 1915, when they founded the company, that each location must create “special experiences for one guest at a time.”
Today, with 22 properties around the world, Delaware North has come a long way since brothers Marvin, Charles and Louis Jacobs diversified into property management from operating a popcorn and peanuts store in Buffalo, N.Y. Their tiny enterprise grew into a privately held international corporation presently overseeing subsidiaries in hospitality management, food service, sports concessions, retail, sports facility ownership and management, and even gaming venues and racetracks.
According to Donald Foste, director of sales and marketing, travel and tourism, Delaware North, “Our collection ranges in locations from natural marvels like Yosemite National Park and Niagara Falls State Park, to modern treasures like the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. We also have a presence in places where adventure is the norm—like deep in Australia’s Great Barrier Reef and in the heart of British Columbia. Travel agents will find that their clients will enjoy those locations in a manner perhaps never imagined.”
Foste adds that the hotels, resorts, cultural attractions and parks operated or owned by Delaware North draw millions every year because “we offer an unparalleled management quality to each property in our care, while offering a full array of cultural attractions.”
He stresses that the company’s mission to provide stewardship and hospitality in special destinations where guests will enjoy memorable experiences remains the chief concern of every property.
In such an array, the Yosemite properties stand out as the most popular—followed closely by the Kennedy Space Center near Orlando, FL.
Delaware North’s Yosemite properties are tailor-made for those wanting a sample of one of America’s greatest natural treasures. The properties range from the luxurious, four-star, 123-room The Ahwahnee, a registered Historic Hotel of America, with mind-blowing panoramas of the park’s astonishing landscape, to Curry Village, a charming cluster of cabins, guestrooms and even tent cabins for those partial to a more rustic Yosemite experience. Guests will delight in the amenities of each property. The Ahwahnee offers photography classes for those who want to get in touch with their inner Ansel Adams, while Curry Village caters to active vacationers who enjoy hiking, white-water rafting and mountain biking in summer and ice skating and skiing in winter.
In between, one finds all categories of accommodations: The Housekeeping Camp on the banks of the Merced River is a group of bucolic, three-walled tents favored by those who like camping but not the heavy lifting involved in outdoor living and is the only Yosemite lodge with an outdoor fire pit outside each cabin; the 50-acre Tenaya Lodge, two miles from the park’s entrance, is an all-season luxury resort with top-notch amenities; and Yosemite Lodge at the Falls, all glass and wood, is a rustic, family-friendly property that blends naturally with its surroundings and the nearest resort to majestic Yosemite Falls.
According to Foste, travel agents are a crucial part of the company’s plans, something that was underscored when the company became an Allied Member with the American Society of Travel Agents earlier this year. “Professional travel agents will continue to play an influential role with their clients and with our global portfolio of properties. The travel agent channel is critical in the travel distribution landscape. Over the next 12 months, we will be rolling out programs that will enable Delaware North Companies to build closer and stronger working relationships with the travel agent community and provide education, product training and resources to make the booking process easier.”
He cites the Kennedy Space Center Visitors Complex where Delaware North has developed a travel agent booking portal within the center’s website, instituted an exclusive travel agent toll-free telephone number for bookings (888-590-4979), and expanded its wholesaler base to ensure agents are able to book through their preferred vendors while at the same time developing a travel agent incentive contest to reward top-producing agents.
“This process won’t happen overnight,” Foste adds, “but Delaware North is committed to making sure all the properties in our portfolio are moving in this direction.”
Delaware North Companies Parks and Resorts: dncdestinations.com