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Yosemite’s Ahwahnee reopens with “old” look

Courtesy Ahwahnee Hotel

YOSEMITE, Calif. —  The historic Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite National Park reopened in mid-March after its guest rooms, public spaces and exterior were renovated and its fire detection, alarm and suppressions systems were upgraded.

The project at the AAA Four-Diamond property was a joint effort of the National Park Service and DNC Parks and Resorts at Yosemite, Inc., the park’s main concessionaire. The majority of the work is completed and finishing touches will be in place by June.

The Ahwahnee, opened in 1927 and a member of Historic Hotels of America, was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1977; in 1987 it became a National Historic Landmark.

Designers Richard Kollath and Edward McCann of Kollath-McCann Creative Services have worked with the Ahwahnee since 1998, and they researched Yosemite’s archives to select textiles, colors and accessories that would complement those used in the hotel between 1925 and 1942. National Park Service historians call those years the hotel’s “period of historic significance.”

An emphasis on simplicity, understated elegance and colors found in nature was paramount in the guest room redesign.

Among the changes to guest rooms are new bed linens; hand-loomed, custom-made throws; new window treatments and carpet, high-definition television programming; and original artwork.

American companies, including several that were suppliers when the hotel was built, were contracted to supply furnishings, textiles, lighting and accessories.

Stickley made new wood furniture; handcrafted oak Georgian arm chairs from D.R. Dimes of New Hampshire reflect the 1920s originals made by the Michigan Chair Co. Additionally, the hotel bought 24 antique Persian rugs to anchor seating clusters throughout the hotel’s public spaces.

Many existing furnishings, including originals from 1927, were reupholstered and restored.

The Ahwahnee’s vast kitchen also underwent renovations and additions, among them energy-efficient pastry ovens, a rotisserie oven for roasted chickens and other meats and an eco-friendly dishwasher.

In keeping with DNC’s GreenPath program for environmental leadership, many of the materials being replaced, which include 1,700 yards of wool carpet, 4.000 yards of synthetic carpet, bathroom tiles, mattresses, stainless steel, wood and drywall, will be recycled or turned into waste-to-energy by local companies.

The new kitchen equipment provides significant savings on power and water usage. Green materials, such as guest room carpeting made from recyclable materials and the public restroom partitions made from recycled stone, were incorporated into the remodel.