Rampart Lodge garners Innkeeper Award
By Ken Carter , Academy Spirit editor
/ Published September 28, 2009
U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. -- Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz recently announced the annual winners of the Innkeeper Award and the Academy's Rampart Lodge rose to the top in its category.
The Innkeeper Award is the Air Force's way of recognizing bases that excel in running lodging operations.
"I am pleased to announce that the U.S. Air Force Academy, Colo., is the winner in the small-base category," the chief of staff said.
The small-base category includes bases with 285 or fewer rooms available for lodging. Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M., took top honors in the large-base category (286 rooms or more).
"We commend the five small and three large base nominees for their commitment to excellence in serving Air Force people," General Schwartz said.
Rampart Lodge's general manager of the 28 employees keeping 102 rooms, including 22 suites, at their finest, says the key to success is pretty straightforward.
"Teamwork -- we have the best team in the world," said Giuseppe La Bella, who has worked at the Academy for two years and has 27 years of experience in the lodging business. "We have people who get satisfaction from providing outstanding service to our guests -- from ensuring a clean room at check-in to giving top-notch customer service throughout the stay. When you have that type of team, everything falls into place."
It takes more than $1 million a year to operate the $60-million-plus Academy facility. More than 26,000 guests call the Rampart Lodge their short-term home annually, and customer comments make it clear the staff deserved the Innkeeper Award, Mr. La Bella said.
"Thank you for your kindness, cleanliness and hospitality ... we will be back," wrote Mr. and Mrs. John Glenn.
An evaluation team consisting of members of the Air Force Services Agency Staff visited each major command nominee. The teams evaluated each operation using an extensive 30-page checklist covering customer service, housekeeping, financial and facility management, services and related support activities. Each year, the evaluators also select nominees who exemplify the highest standards of professionalism, attitude, customer service and job knowledge for the Innkeepers Travelers' Award. This year's nominees in the small category included the Academy's Dana Simnioniw.
Innkeeper trophies for the two winning bases and the Innkeeper Travelers' Awards will be presented at the International Hotel/Motel and Restaurant show in New York Nov. 7.
The Academy has a reputation of focusing on quality-of-life issues, Mr. La Bella said. Keeping the lodging facilities pristine is clearly a top priority. Building 3130, for example, was totally renovated in 2007-2008 with more than $4 million committed to building reconstruction and the replacement of furniture, fixtures and equipment combined.
There are further significant upgrades in store that are projected through 2010. The Rampart Lodge staff appreciates the support received from USAFA and supporting agencies.
"We are proud to serve our guests from the front line to home front ... we're 'The Best Serving The Best,'" the general manager said.
Additional key staffers at the Rampart Lodge instrumental in earning the Innkeeper Award include: Brenda Adams, assistant manager with 11 years at the Academy and 24 years of lodging experience; Stanley Erickson, guest services manager with seven years at the Academy and eight years experience in lodging.