FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- After almost two years of planning and renovating, the Holiday Inn Express opened its doors at Fort Rucker June 16.

In August 2009, Lend Lease U.S. Public Partnerships assumed ownership of over 3,200 hotel rooms located across 10 U.S. Army installations and, with InterContinental Hotels Group as the hotel operator, became the first to begin operations under the Privatization of Army Lodging program, an Army-led, public-private venture established as a means of revitalizing on-post transient housing facilities for Soldiers, their Families and all official government travelers, according to Meryl Large, Lend Lease senior marketing manager.

The hotel here is the fourth branded hotel ever opened on a military installation, Large added.

“Today, the Holiday Inn Express at Fort Rucker offers guests all the amenities of the brand’s off-post locations, with additional services and amenities tailored to meet the unique needs of military travelers,” she said. “Every pet-friendly guest room features new furnishings, new bedding and flat screen TVs in addition to free, hot breakfast served daily, free high-speed internet access, TV lounges and guest laundry facilities. The hotel also offers concierge services and courtesy, on-post shuttle service for all IHG Army Hotel guests, weekly barbeque socials and the opportunity to earn Priority Club rewards points that can be redeemed for prizes or stays at more than 4,400 IHG hotels around the world.”

During the ribbon cutting ceremony June 16, Col. James A. Muskopf, Fort Rucker garrison commander, said the team involved in making the renovations possible have done a great service for the post and the Army.

“The privatization of Army lodging is a win-win partnership between Lend Lease, IHG and the Army,” he said. “It’s an opportunity for each partner to do what they do best in service to our nation.”

Muskopf continued by stressing the importance of having such a partnership between the military and a private company and how it helps both organizations.

“The Army is in the business of protecting this great nation and executing our country’s wars, not running hotels,” he said. “But our partners, Lend Lease and IHG, are in the business of running hotels, and they are committed to providing the best possible facilities and services to our Soldiers and Family members. This partnership also removes a financial strain off of the Army. We had fallen behind on updating our lodging facilities due to lack of funds. Our partners have updated these facilities and will keep updating them to provide only the best for our people.”

Karen Brenenstahl, IHG Army Hotels general manager at Fort Rucker, said the ribbon cutting ceremony represented the culmination of two years of hard work by all involved.

“This is a very proud day for me,” she said. “I’ve been here for a little over two years and in that time my team and I have had the opportunity to serve the Soldiers and Families who chose to stay at this hotel. When I got here, I noticed this hotel already had the commitment to customer service that IHG has. Fort Rucker is a great example of what’s going on at the other installations undergoing this change. Our guests have noticed the difference and we’re very excited about where we’re going.”