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NAVAL STATION ROTA, Spain — According to customers, Rota’s Navy Lodge is one of the best in the Navy.

The Navy Lodge received the 2003 Hospitality Award, which is based on those small comment cards customers find in their rooms.

Rota received the top award for medium-sized lodges. Rear Adm. Robert Cowley III, the Navy Exchange Service Command commander, presented lodge manager Francisco Jose “Paco” Perez Fernandez with the award last week.

The Navy Lodge also won the award in 2001.

Fernandez, who has worked with the Navy Exchange for more than 40 years, said the key to good customer service is training and making the needs of the guest the top priority for employees. That means keeping the rooms spotless and taking time to talk to customers, he said.

If a guest comes to the front desk, employees are expected to drop everything to help that customer.

“We are never busy in front of guests,” he said. “We have to take care of the guest first.”

The lodge serves between 25,000 and 30,000 people annually. Most of them are families who have just arrived in Rota for duty.

The Hospitality Award is based on the comment card ratings from 42 Navy lodges worldwide. The award is broken down into small, medium and large categories. On a scale of one to five, Rota received a score of 4.86. That’s better than the Navy average of 4.71, Perez said.

The Navy Lodge in LeMoore, Calif., won the top award in the large category, while Key West, Fla., won the small category.

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