European edition, Tuesday, May 15, 2007

SPANGDAHLEM AIR BASE, Germany — Guests to this base won’t have to venture far to find a place to stay the night.

There’s now more room at a second Air Force inn.

The base will welcome its first customers Tuesday to a new $10 million hotel that will more than double the number of guest rooms available, from 100 to more than 200. Adding more rooms will mean that more planes will be able to fly in and out of the base because aircrews can get their required rest.

“Once they know this is open, they can send more people,” lodging manager Doug Marchel said while giving a tour of the Visitor Quarters. “We’ll now be able to accommodate more people.”

Spangdahlem has seen a rise in the number of visitors since the closure of Rhein-Main Air Base in Frankfurt in 2005, increasing the demand for rooms. The majority of the cargo planes that used to pass through Rhein-Main pass through Ramstein Air Base near Kaiserslautern and Spangdahlem.

In the past six months, Spangdahlem has seen 6,000 passengers and 2,800 aircrew members pass through the base. In addition to the hotel, the base has built a new passenger terminal and expanded its parking ramp.

The base had sent guests to off-base hotels because the old lodging facility often filled up quickly, Marchel said. In fiscal year 2006, the base sent 16,000 guests to off-base hotels at a cost of $1.4 million.

The new hotel will mean most visitors can stay on base. Iris Reiff, spokeswoman for the 52nd Fighter Wing, said Air Force officials expect the number of passengers to either stay the same or possibly go up slightly. In a pinch, both lodging facilities can squeeze an additional 80 people into rooms.

A circular cobblestone driveway leads to the building’s two-story lobby.

Each of the 104 rooms has its own private bath, queen bed, desk, telephone, cable television and high-speed Internet connection. They also include a kitchenette with a sink, microwave, mini refrigerator, coffee pot and toaster. The rooms are not glamorous, but few guests will likely complain at $32 per night, which is the standard rate at Air Force lodging facilities in Europe.

“We’re trying to be a mid-level hotel,” Marchel said.

There are no “distinguished visitor” rooms at the new hotel: Those will remain at the older quarters. Six of the rooms in the new place can accommodate handicapped guests.

The three-story hotel also offers a business center with four computers, a small fitness room and a conference room designed for 40 people. While some Air Force inns are converted barracks from decades ago, the new hotel at Spangdahlem is in a new building within walking distance of the main gate.

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