By Ken Carter
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, Colorado, is the winner in the small-base category (285 rooms or fewer),” the chief said. 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.”
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 straight forward.
“Teamwork-we have the best team in the world,” said Giuseppe (Joe) La Bella, who has two years tenure at the Academy and 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. However, the benefactors are many.
More than 26,000 guests call the Rampart Lodge their short-term home annually and customer comments make it clear the staff is deserving of the Innkeeper Award.
“Thank you for your kindness, cleanliness and hospitality … we will be back,” said 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 own Dana Simnioniw.