Four years and $4.58 million later, the iconic and beloved Kah-Nee-Ta Village Resort & Spa may soon see new life. Since 2018, the resort has been shuttered, and a recent potential revival effort was thwarted by the pandemic. Now, in partnership with Mt. Hood Skibowl, the Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs Reservation of Oregon plans to reopen the storied resort in 2023 and expand its hot springs and pool, motel, and RV lodging areas.
In a news release, owner and president of Mt. Hood Skibowl Kirk Hanna says the revitalization effort will also provide much-need employment opportunities in the area, which in turn will support the broader economy in Madras and Central Oregon. When the resort shut down in 2018, some 140 employees lost their jobs. According to the release, reopening the resort means that about 50 full-time and more than 80 part-time positions would be created during the six-month busy season. The rest of the year, the resort is expected to support around 15 full-time and 20 part-time employees.
“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.
On top of the four-million-dollar funding, an additional $1.5 million was approved to repair the wastewater system that serves Kah-Nee-Ta and the local community. For decades the natural mineral water hot springs in the Warm Springs River has been a huge draw. During the first phase of its multi-phase reopening, Jim Souers, chief executive officer of the Warm Springs Economic Development Corporation, says in the release the resort will prioritize the springs.
“Tribal Council directed us to focus on the first phase of the plan—to open and breathe new life into the Kah-Nee-Ta Village," Souers said. "This phase brings the family style Village back to life while returning it to what it has always been, a place that contributes to the wellness of those who experience its natural mineral hot spring water."
The reasons for Kah-Nee-Ta's closure in the first place are complex. In a 2020 article about the resort's closure for Portland Monthly, former employees suggested there had been some mismanagement; others pointed to the expense of updating the aging structure, and the drop-off in the number of visitors, particularly as other, newer getaways multiplied around Central Oregon.