FORT LEE - The largest single-structure lodging facility in the Army is open and has been housing students for the Army Logistics University since just before Christmas.
"We have 900 extended-stay rooms and 100 family suites," said Marc Jannsen, general manager of the lodging facility on post.
The occupancy of the lodge is currently at about 68 percent, according to Jannsen.
The average stay for soldiers at the massive facility is about nine days, but the longest a soldier might stay is up to three months, Jannsen said.
The new lodging facility is approximately 504,000 square feet. One hundred and fifty rooms are located on each of the seven floors in the H-shaped building with the total of all hallways combined just short of two miles. But because of the massive size of the building, Jannsen said certain amenities are located fairly close to any given guestroom, including vending machines, guest laundry areas and study rooms.
Fort Lee Garrison Commander Col. Rodney Edge said that with the new lodging facility being in such close proximity to ALU, it creates a true campus feel.
"This is a very, very large lodging center," Edge said. "What makes a lot of others look bigger is because of restaurants, fitness centers and all those other things. This is not a resort and a lot of others have that resort atmosphere. This has a study atmosphere."
While it has a studious feel, Edge said that the comfort of those staying at the lodging facility is paramount.
"It's a lot nicer than living in a fraternity house or in a dorm room," said 2nd Lt. William Metro. Metro, a graduate of Pennsylvania State University, added that it's convenient being located so close to the university if he needs anything from the school that he may have forgotten.
Jannsen said that's reflected in the design of the rooms, which are also set to Army standards. That includes a refrigerator, microwave and dishes so that soldiers can cook meals in their own rooms if they so desire.
"It's nice being able to cook in my room," said Sgt. Ebony D. Penton, who has been in the Army for five years. Penton has been at the new lodging facility for three weeks while attending training on post.
Penton, originally from Louisiana, said that the stay has been great so far. She said that with the stovetops in her room, it can save her money that she might otherwise spend in restaurants.
Currently there is no restaurant at the hotel, but there is 11,000 square feet of space already set up for one that is set to open on the first floor of the hotel in the summer. It will be managed by CenterPlate, which also provides concessions at various stadiums throughout the country, including FedEx Field.