Base lodging to close, reopen as Wrangler Bunkhouse

  • Published
  • By Glenn S. Robertson
  • 90th Missile Wing Public Affairs

Base lodging to close, reopen as Wrangler Bunkhouse

Following a directive from the Department of the Air Force, the 90th Force Support Squadron closed the Crow Creek Inn on F.E. Warren Air Force Base Aug. 14, 2023, to convert the facility to recreational lodging.

The facility is expected to reopen Oct. 1 as the Wrangler Bunkhouse.

The Air Force Services Center (AFSVC) conducted a review of DAF lodging operations in 2020 to ensure the lodging program retained the ability to meet mission requirements, following a DoD memorandum directing the conversion of temporary duty (TDY) and permanent change of station (PCS) lodging to fully non-appropriated fund (NAF) operations. While not-for-profit, Air Force Inns would be required to be self-sustaining without the support of appropriated, or taxpayer, funds under this new model.

"Over the past two decades, declining appropriated fund support drove resourcing decisions deferring higher-cost facility sustainment and maintenance items for buildings throughout the lodging portfolio," said Victoria Fragomeli, AFSVC Business Operations director.

The DAF approved the full divestiture of lodging operations at 9 installations and right-sizing operations at 37 others, transitioning from 977 buildings (24,546 rooms) across 87 installations in the Air Force Lodging inventory to 921 buildings (23,810 rooms) across 78 installations. When complete, the overall inventory will enable substantial facility, sustainment, restoration and modernization savings.

“In order to maintain quality and meet standards, we must continue to evaluate lodging facilities at all installations," said Janae Sergio, Air Force Lodging chief. "Certain lodging operations will be reduced in size or closed to ensure the DAF can maintain its lodging portfolio and reinvest to meet current and future program needs."

When the facility reopens its 43 rooms in October, there will be few operational changes, according to Tia Woolverton, Lodging Operations Manager for the Wrangler Bunkhouse, but customers are unlikely to see any substantial changes, with a few exceptions.

One of the most noticeable changes will be that, as recreational lodging, there is no longer a requirement to ensure non-availability before procuring commercial lodging outside the base gates.

However, there are several benefits of using lodging on base rather than commercial lodging, according to Woolverton.

“It can be a pain to stay even 15 minutes away, when you could stay right here on base,” Woolverton said. “Especially for those families that only have one car, staying on base can offer much more freedom and ability to take kids to the parade field or the playgrounds.”

There will also be some modest price increases, but for those traveling on TDY or PCS orders, the per diem match will be matched, and they will have the ability to reserve lodging 60 days out versus the 30 allowed for recreational reservations.

Similar to many commercial hotels post-COVID, the Bunkhouse will also limit housekeeping, instead of exchanging items daily. If a customer asks for service, it will be provided, but housekeeping services will typically be provided at the end of a stay or at regular intervals during long stays.

Between Aug. 14 and Oct. 1, the lodging team will undertake an effort to update some of the rooms’ d├ęcor, as well as doing away with single serve items, such as coffee packs and toiletries. The purpose for this is to make the facility more “green-friendly,” by limiting waste of items that must be thrown away, even if not used, when the guest leaves.

Another change is one that benefits local Airmen, but wouldn’t be noticed by a lodging customer.

“Previously, any overage in revenue over operating costs went back to the Services Center,” said Woolverton. “Now, that revenue will go back into local outdoor recreation programs and better serve our Airmen here on F.E. Warren.”

Though there will be some differences when the Bunkhouse opens Oct. 1, the lodging team are dedicated to ensuring that guests receive quality service and the facility supports the Airmen of F.E. Warren.

“With the changes that we’re making, even though they’re small, there’s a sincere hope that we’re going to be able to make a difference for our base populace,” said Woolverton.