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  Comments (7) Total Thursday Apr. 24, 2014
 
Xanterra Sets Up Shop
Company will officially take over concessions in Glacier Park Jan. 15
Diners finish their meals at Russell’s Fireside Dining Room in Lake McDonald Lodge in Glacier National Park. | Flathead Beacon file photo
Xanterra Parks and Resorts will officially take over the Glacier National Park concessions contract on Jan. 15, ending a decades-long relationship between the park and the previous concessioner, Glacier Park Inc. In the coming weeks, Xanterra officials hope to set up administrative offices in Columbia Falls, which will become the company’s Glacier Division headquarters. The company will also move the historic Red Bus fleet from East Glacier Park to Kalispell.

“We are excited about establishing ourselves in Columbia Falls and becoming a part of the community,” said James McCaleb, a Xanterra vice president who oversees operations for Glacier, Yellowstone, Crater Lake and Mount Rushmore national parks. “We’re looking forward to getting set up and getting our feet on the ground.”

Last summer, the National Park Service announced it had selected Xanterra to operate lodging, retail, transportation and food and drink services inside Glacier National Park. The contract lasts 16 years. The agreement requires Xanterra to replace much of the lodging furnishings throughout the park; remodel selected guest rooms in the Many Glacier Hotel and Lake McDonald Lodge; improve food and beverage services at Heidi’s in Many Glacier and the Two Medicine Campstore; improve sustainable and healthy food options; and add two handicap accessible tour buses to the Red Bus fleet. Xanterra must also establish a Red Bus maintenance fund.

The new contract includes a minimum franchise fee of 1 percent that will be returned to the government every year based on annual gross receipts, which are expected to be approximately $18.5 million.

McCaleb, who served as the general manager for Xanterra’s Yellowstone operation for 14 years, said the public might not notice many changes early on as the new concessioner settles in. However, the company plans on improving services throughout the year.

“Our company is respected throughout the industry as being very sustainable and we want to bring those programs to Glacier National Park,” he said. “Our company’s mission is to serve our customers and the park the best we can.”

Marc Ducharme, general manager for Xanterra’s Glacier operation, said the company is currently trying to purchase the former Pamida department store buildings in Columbia Falls, behind Montana Coffee Traders. He said one building would be turned into an administrative office while the other would become a warehouse for storage.

The historic Red Bus fleet, which includes 33 White Motor Company tour buses built between 1936 and 1939, will be moved from its garage in East Glacier Park to a hangar at the Glacier Jet Center, at Glacier Park International Airport. Ducharme said the buses would be stored and maintained there during the 2014 season while Xanterra builds a new “state-of-the-art maintenance facility” in Columbia Falls. Something visitors may notice this year is a change in the logo on the side of the buses, which currently reads “Glacier Park Inc. Transportation.” Ducharme said Xanterra and the National Park Service are currently collaborating on a new logo for the buses.

Although there is a lot of work to be completed, McCaleb said Xanterra is excited about getting started.

“It’s one of the most beautiful places on the planet and we’re excited to get set up in Glacier National Park,” he said.
 
On 01-14-14, hotfishmt commented....
Most of the tourist related businesses connected to the park, are know to use out of state/country students…..WHY. They get meals, room an a work place that is fun for the summer. The “hitch” is….fail to stay the required length of time….back charged for room/board
 
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