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January 11, 2013

News

Lodging operations to become privatized May 1

Story & photo by Rob Schuette, Public Affairs Staff

Army Lodging operations at Fort McCoy will transition from a nonappropriated fund operation to the Privatization of Army Lodging (PAL) system, effective May 1.

PHOTO: Army Lodging entrance at Fort McCoy. Photo by Rob Schuette
Army Lodging at Fort McCoy is scheduled to become a privatized operation May 1 as part of an Armywide initiative.

Army leadership said the plan to privatize Lodging or hotel operations throughout the Army was pursued because it would cost the Army upward of $1 billion and 20 years to upgrade the inventory of Lodging rooms to an adequate standard.

Mike Bayerl, Fort McCoy Army Lodging manager, said Fort McCoy’s Lodging operation is one of the last Army Lodging operations to transition to the PAL system. InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) and Rest Easy officials announced the May 1 transition date during a December visit to Fort McCoy.

“An independent market study indicated the only lodging at Fort McCoy that will be leased to the PAL system is building 51, which currently has 218 rooms,” Bayerl said. “We also have a parcel of land next to the building that can be used to meet parking requirements or to add other amenities that are part of a hotel operation.”

Revenues gained from the operations will be used to upgrade the rooms to eventually become a Holiday Inn Express operation.

“This will be a win-win situation for the customers, who are predominantly military,” Bayerl said. “Holiday Inn Express can provide more amenities than we can in our current setup.”

For example, Holiday Inn Express can offer military customers a complimentary breakfast, swimming pool, a shuttle bus/van to various post activities, concierge services to answer questions about local sights and events, a commercial laundry service for hotel laundry, such as linens, and a manager’s night food service.

Some activities, such as replacing televisions, bedding and doing a deep cleaning of all surfaces and window treatments, will be conducted in the early stages, he said.

As part of a national chain, guests at a Holiday Inn Express also qualify for frequent guest rewards. Reservations can be made at a centralized website that has systemwide information as well as specific information about attractions available in and around Fort McCoy. A toll-free reservation number with specially trained reservationists, who are fully knowledgeable about each installation, Army travel polices, per diem guidelines and IHG systems, also will be available. Bayerl said none of the additional amenities currently are available at Fort McCoy.

Customers, including military personnel who will have priority, are not required to stay at the facility so the amenities and service will have to convince customers to stay there, Bayerl said. Rates for customers on official business to the installation likely will be determined according to the per diem rates.

Bayerl said more details about the additional amenities, the timing of their availability and the time line for the facility to become a full-fledged Holiday Inn Express will become known in the coming months as hotel representatives come back to view the facilities and the operations.

Lodging employees have been aware of this transition process for the past six years so they have had time to prepare, Bayerl said. All employees will be offered a severance package and can apply with the PAL system for a position with the new hotel organization. The process guarantees Lodging employees will receive an interview to work for the new contracted organization, he said. Successful applicants will retain their seniority in the new organization. Of the Lodging operations that already have transitioned to PAL, 97 percent of the labor requirements were filled with current Lodging employees.

“The IHG operation will have some jobs that have different skill requirements, such as food service, than the jobs we currently have,” he said. “They also have regular positions and no flex-time positions as we have so that will be an improvement for our staff if they go to work for the new organization.”

For more information about IHG, visit the website IHGArmyHotels.com or call 877-711-TEAM (8326).

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