By Ms Rachel V Goodspeed (USACE)September 21, 2011
GRAFENWOEHR, Germany -- "Be our guest!"
As children sprinkled the entrance with rose petals, the U.S. Army Garrison Grafenwoehr invited everyone inside the doors of their newly-opened Army Lodge during a ribbon-cutting ceremony Sept. 19.
"Today is a great day to be at U.S. Army Garrison Grafenwoehr as we are opening our new Army Lodge, which marks another milestone in improving the quality of life for our Soldiers and their families, as well as the guests and visitors, including soldiers from our partner nations," said Kathy Aydt, U.S. Army Garrison Enterprise deputy garrison commander. "In a time of conflict with intense training and many deployments, quality of life is more important than ever before to our Soldiers, civilians and family members."
The new lodge has 136 rooms -- 46 family suites, 18 extended-stay suites and 72 standard rooms -- several of which are ADA-accessible. The rooms also feature kitchenettes, in-room connectivity and even storage for long-term visitors.
"Grafenwoehr continues to grow and evolve and we're proud to be a part of the team bringing these projects to you," said Lt. Col. Michelle Garcia, deputy commander for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Europe District, which managed the project. "And with the successful history of the Baudeinstelle, I have no doubt we'll be able to continue to deliver projects on time, within budget."
Additionally, the new lodge provides customers a central location to conduct business, said Audre Binder, director of the garrison's Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation.
"It's not been easy on our customers when they've been scattered amongst a variety of buildings and always having to come back to the central building to do any kind of transaction," she said. "[The new lodge] creates a tremendous amount of synergy for us and greatly improves our ability to deliver customer service."
Prior to the opening of the new lodge, incoming personnel would stay in one of seven different buildings around the post, according to Waldy Schill-Rueckert, manager of the new lodge.
"We had seven different buildings -- beautiful, old, historical buildings. Every room was different," she said. "We had 72 rooms -- that means 72 different rooms -- and it's very tough to meet the right guests with the right room."
Whether a Soldier is coming in for a long-term stay or short temporary duty assignment, be it a single Soldier or one coming in with a family, the rooms are standardized and built to meet everyone's needs.
But even more, it allows the garrison to offer the level of customer service and type of facility incoming Soldiers and families would expect stateside, Aydt said.
"Guests benefit from a demand-driven design reflecting the needs of our Soldiers, civilians and family members," she said. "They experience the same quality of life that's afforded the society they have pledged to defend."
The lodge is located right in the heart of the post with the Post Exchange, Commissary, Java Café and other leisure facilities within walking distance.
"Oftentimes our families come to us … they've had a very long ride," Binder said. "We want their first experience to be a positive one. We want them to walk through the door and think, 'Wow! I was a little nervous about coming to Germany. I've never heard of Grafenwoehr before. But if this is what it's going to be like, this is really good.'"
The lodge is the first project to open since the official wrap-up of the $1.1 billion Efficient Basing-Grafenwoehr program in 2010 and will it not be the last. Construction on a new outdoor recreation facility is already underway and design on a chapel complex for the Netzaberg housing area was recently completed.
"Last year, Col. [John] Kem [former district commander] stood before you to celebrate the completion of an 8-year initiative that turned this post into the Army's premiere training facility," Garcia said. "Today I have the honor of taking part in the next chapter of Grafenwoehr's history -- life after EBG."
With a state-of-the-art hotel in its midst and many more construction projects on the horizon, the garrison and USACE continue the momentum created during EBG with facilities that serve the 3,500 active-duty Soldiers who have deployed and redeployed for roughly 10 years, Binder said.
"It is our goal to provide guests with an excellent lodging facility and excellent service. My staff and I are aware how important it is to the life of the Soldier and the civilians and their families. We are proud to serve them," Schill-Rueckert said. "My team and I are looking forward to serving you. I'm very happy to invite you now to be our guest."