A beloved hot springs getaway in Central Oregon is slated to reopen to the public next year, bringing promises of more tourism dollars and hospitality jobs to the Warm Springs Reservation.
Last week the Tribal Council for the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs approved spending $4.58 million from the federal government to reopen portions of Kah-Nee-Ta, a once-popular resort on the reservation.
Kah-Nee-Ta laid off all 146 of its employees and closed in 2018, with the resort mired in financial losses and maintenance problems. On Friday, the Tribes announced an outlay of American Rescue Plan Act funds to rehabilitate some facilities, which will be managed and operated by a non-tribal entity, Mt. Hood Skibowl.
The plans call for renovating part of the former resort known as the Village, which includes pools fed by springs along the Warm Springs River and some lodging facilities, such as teepees, RV sites, and a 30-room motel. The Tribes have not announced any plans to reopen a 149-room lodge, nor a closed golf course.
Tribal officials said Mt. Hood Skibowl will develop and manage the Village through an agreement with the Warm Springs Economic Development Corporation. The planned reopening is sometime in 2023, and a firm date was not available. In the past, the resort was tribally-operated. It remains in tribal ownership. Details of the operating agreement were not immediately available.
“Credit goes to current Tribal Council and other members of the local community for their support and decision to restore this Oregon landmark, create local jobs for our Tribal youth and begin to rebuild the Reservation’s economy devastated by the COVID pandemic,” Warm Springs elder and former Kah-Nee-Ta employee Charles Jackson said in a press release.
Once reopened, the Village is expected to support 50 full-time and over 80 part-time positions during the busy season from March to September. The rest of the year could call for over 15 full-time and more than 20 part-time employees.
Mt. Hood Skibowl operates a ski area and resort in Government Camp, along with other recreational and lodging businesses in Oregon. Owner and president Kirk Hanna said in the press release that the company will provide employment opportunities to the reservation’s community and contribute to the Warm Springs economy.
“We are excited to be part of the relaunch of the Kah-Nee-Ta Village to promote the cultural heritage and bring visitors back to experience the natural healing powers of the Hot Springs, which dates back 10,000 years ago,” Hanna said in the release.