April 12, 2013
By Michelle Butzgy/Paraglide
FORT BRAGG, N.C. - Concierge service, free high-speed Internet service, complimentary breakfast and other amenities will soon be available at a Fort Bragg lodging facility near you.
Guest lodging on Fort Bragg is slated for about $62 million in renovations, construction and improvements as developer Lend Lease takes over ownership and InterContinental Hotel Group takes over management of transient lodging May 1 through the Privatization of Army Lodging program, under the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army (Installations, Energy and Environment), said Mark Hausherr, PAL program advisor.
The ultimate goal for Fort Bragg's lodging is to convert 535 rooms in Moon and Hardy halls to Holiday Inn Express® hotels and build a new, 85-room Candlewood Suites® hotel for a total of 620 rooms, he added.
The program allows the Army to improve the quality of transient lodging facilities in the continental United States, Alaska, Hawaii and Puerto Rico without the Army spending close to $1 billion dollars in renovation and replacement costs if done through conventional appropriation channels. Transferring hotel operations and management responsibilities to the private sector through PAL, lets the Army focus on their primary mission.
Fort Bragg is in the third tier of installations to switch to privatized lodging. The first installation to convert an Army lodging facility to a 70-room Holiday Inn Express® was Fort Polk, La., completing the transformation, Aug. 4, 2010. To-date, 1,277 rooms across the privatized portfolio have been branded as Holiday Inn Express® hotels.
The PAL program objectives include eliminating substandard Army lodging, improving quality of life for Soldiers and their Families and offer rooms at a weighted cost of 75 percent of the current lodging per diem.
All revenue at the privatized hotels after the payment of operating expenses will be placed in a lockbox and can only be used with Army permission to renovate, construct and sustain the on-post hotels. Both the developer-owner and the hotelier are paid on a (capped) fee-for -service basis, said Hausherr.
Rates will increase but the installation will have a savings in appropriated expenditures that offsets the increase. The resulting hotel income will be reinvested back into the renovations, construction and long-term sustainment of lodging on Fort Bragg, he added.
Within 45 days after the transfer, lodging at Fort Bragg will go through Operation Deep Clean, where rooms are professionally cleaned from carpets to upholstery to re-caulking bathroom fixtures and re-grouting bathroom tile. New signage will also be placed throughout the lodging areas.
There will also be Day 1 access to the www.ihgarmyhotels.com website to make reservations more easily. Frequent Stay points kick in immediately, said Hausherr.
Next, guests will see new flat screen TVs, multi-function showerheads and other improvements in rooms while the front desk, lobby and outdoor furniture receive upgrades. Rooms will also receive new alarm clocks, hair dryers and other amenities. Within seven months, Fort Bragg lodging will see more improvements such as fire panel/alarm replacement, electronic door locks, high-speed internet upgrades, heating and air conditioning system improvements and more.
"What will remain the same are the dedicated employees. PAL came about because the facilities needed improvement -- not of any fault in the employees," said Hausherr.
"The employees are the best thing about Army Lodging -- what IHG hopes to do is fuse their culture with the Army culture of dedication to servicing our Soldiers and their Families. It's about getting the employees the facilities and resources they need to better be able to do that," he said.
Current employees of Fort Bragg lodging will have to reapply for employment, however, IHG has given them the right to first interview and will honor Army Lodging employees' seniority and offers competitive pay and benefits. In the first two rounds of privatization, former Army Lodging employees filled 97 percent of the available positions on the first day of transition.
To apply for available jobs through IHG, visit http://www.ihgpal.com/images/careers/careers.html. Current employees may find additional answers at http://www.ihgpal.com/faq.html.
Landmark Inn will remain a separate entity and is not impacted by the PAL program.