By Melissa Bower, Fort Leavenworth LampSeptember 30, 2010
FORT LEAVENWORTH, Kan. (Sept. 30, 2010) - A year ago, when the Army Management Staff College received complaints from its civilian students about the lodging at Hoge Barracks, AMSC leaders worked with InterContinental Hotels Group to make a difference.
Col. Stevenson Reed, AMSC commandant, said feedback from students staying at the hotel improved since that time.
"Over the last eight months it's becoming more and more positive - that's because we have shown we care about our students, collectively," he said.
He presented a Certificate of Appreciation to IHG and the hotel staff Sept. 23. Reed said more than 1,500 students attend classes at the Fort Leavenworth AMSC campus each year, usually in two-week blocks. Most of the civilian students do not have Commissary privileges and often are without personal transportation.
Reed additionally presented a commander's coin to General Manager Shirley Dickson, who has been implementing some of the changes. IHG scheduled buses to local off-post grocery stores so students can buy groceries to cook in the kitchenettes in their rooms. The hotel also now offers a hot breakfast, Tuesday night social and karaoke, improved Internet access, new mattresses and an expanded sweets and gift shop in the newly renovated lobby.
IHG Army Hotels took over operations of Hoge Barracks last year as part of the Privatizations of Army Lodging program. In the PAL program, Actus Lend Lease provides the capital and owns the new hotels, while IHG operates the hotels. Fort Leavenworth was one of 10 installations in the first PAL group, all of which turned over lodging operations to IHG management and operations. All are being upgraded and renovated to Holiday Inn Express standards. Fort Polk, La., became the first Army post with a Holiday Inn Express-branded hotel Aug. 4. PAL Group A also includes Fort Rucker, Ala.; Fort Riley, Kan.; Fort Sill, Okla.; Fort Hood, Texas; Fort Sam Houston, Texas; Yuma Proving Ground, Ariz.; Fort Myer, Va.; and Fort Shafter and Tripler Army Medical Center, Hawaii.
Dickson said more improvements of Hoge are underway, including renovation of all 288 rooms and an improved heating, ventilation and cooling system so that guests can control each room's temperature. Hoge Barracks is currently getting a new roof. IHG also manages Otis Hall and Custer House - suites available for VIPs on post - and those are also scheduled to undergo more renovations this fall.
Reed also said the Fort Leavenworth Garrison had been responsible for coming up with the plan and synchronizing it.
Jack Walker, deputy to the Garrison commander, said staff at IHG were also thanked for taking care of students in the Pre-Command Course and more than 200 British officers who visit Fort Leavenworth twice a year for training exercises.
"It's all compliments to IHG and their management team, but in particular, it's (Dickson) that takes care of us every day, and you won't believe the juggling of schedules she does," Walker said.
Dickson said she and other hotel staff members were happy to be able to provide guests with new services and brand new items in each room.
"All the staff here are very excited to see the new furnishings, the new carpeting ... for the students, Soldiers, everyone that stays with us, to get those types of things in their rooms," Dickson said.