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By Ralph Berrier
Landmark News Service
The Peaks of Otter Lodge and Restaurant should have a new management team in place in time to re-open this spring, the retiring superintendent of the Blue Ridge Parkway said.
Phil Francis, who has headed the parkway since 2005 and will retire in April, said that the National Park Service has received interest from several potential concessionaires since it modified the management proposal to make operating the venerable lodge and restaurant more appealing.
The 63-room lodge and restaurant closed in November when the previous concessionaire, Crestline Hotels & Resorts and its subsidiary Virginia Peaks of Otter Co., decided not to extend its contract with the National Park Service. The facilities had been open year-round since 1977.
“I think we’ve got a package now that’s attractive,” Francis said by telephone from parkway headquarters in Asheville, N.C. “I would be very surprised if we don’t have a good, competent company opening the Peaks of Otter this spring.”
Last year, the park service received no bids when it combined the Peaks of Otter, Rocky Knob cabins in Patrick County and Bluffs Lodge and Coffee Shop in North Carolina into one management proposal. In December, the park service revised the proposal by separating the Peaks of Otter from the other venues and by reducing the amount of interest a prospective management team would have to pay.
A new concessionaire for the Peaks of Otter will have the option of managing the Bluffs Lodge and Coffee Shop and the Otter Creek Restaurant and Gift Shop.
The park service will entertain bids to manage Peaks of Otter until Feb. 6.