By T. Anthony Bell, Fort Lee Public Affairs

FORT LEE, Va. – The largest Army lodge in the continental U.S. will begin operations under privatization plans at the end of the month.

The Fort Lee Lodge, the mammoth 1,000-room structure completed in December 2012, will become part of the operations and management portfolio of IHG, a worldwide hotelier. It, along with eight other lodging facilities here and one at Fort Benning, Ga., are the last lodges located on Army installations to be privatized under the Privatization of Army Lodging program.

PAL is the Army’s effort to improve transient housing and increase its long-term sustainability.

Cynthia Moinette, general manager, Army Lodging at Fort Lee, said although a change in management is imminent, military members and other eligible patrons should not notice any significant changes when Army Lodging relinquishes control of the facilities at midnight, Sept. 30.

“They won’t see a difference in the rooms because this hotel is so new,” she said. “Our amenities are the same and our services are basically the same (as IHG).”

Although there are no foreseeable changes in service, prices will increase slightly, Moinette said. “A standard room is currently $62, and the price will go to $66.75,” she said.

Administratively, there are some changes of note. IHG will take over reservations, and Soldiers on official duty seeking statements of non-availability – required when no government facilities are available – cannot obtain them through IHG because “they don’t issue statements of non-availability,” said Adrienne Hammonds, Fort Lee Lodging assistant manager.

The changes may be more apparent to lodging employees, Moinette said. There are 194 government Non-Appropriated Fund employees currently assigned to the various lodging facilities here. She said 129 employees were eligible to apply for new positions under IHG and 119 were hired. Fifty-one employees opted for retirement and some others will work in different NAF positions.

Both Moinette and Hammonds said they are not aware of any immediate plans to change the facility names at Fort Lee, although IHG has rebranded or built lodges at Army installations across the country under either the Holiday Inn Express or Candlewood Suites brand.

Once the lodging facilities here and at Fort Benning are transitioned, only one Army Lodging-managed facility will remain in the continental U.S. – a facility located at the Judge Advocate General School on the campus of the University of Virginia.

Army Lodging will continue to manage and operate facilities located in Europe and South Korea and Armed Forces Recreation Centers located here and abroad.

Under PAL, the Army has leased existing lodging real estate to contractors under the terms of a 50-year lease.

In addition, PAL development partners will raise the capital needed to build, renovate and maintain adequate and affordable transient lodging over the long-term without cost to the Army. The agreement has resulted in renovations and improvements to existing lodging nationwide.

The Army has privatized more than 15,000 rooms at more than 40 installations since 2009.