NORFOLK, Va. (NNS) -- The Navy Gateway Inns & Suites (NGIS) transient lodging facility on Naval Station (NAVSTA) Newport, R.I. is nearing completion and making final preparations for its first guests. A ribbon-cutting ceremony is slated for Nov. 1, with doors opening to guests in the very near future.
"A significant difference on this project ... this is the first NGIS - out of the ground, brand new - built as a hotel," said Kevin Coyne, Naval Facilities Engineering Command Mid-Atlantic (NAVFAC MIDLANT) Project Manager for the new facility. "Over the years [NGIS] had been adapting existing buildings previously built for unaccompanied Sailors, which is extremely difficult in terms of getting a unified brand."
The new $48M facility, which broke ground on Aug. 21, 2015 and traces its origins back to 2007 when the need for additional lodging became apparent, is the first hotel built by the Navy and the first NGIS funded entirely by funds rendered by guest room charges at NGIS locations within the Mid-Atlantic Region. The building replaces an older 100-room NGIS facility on the same site and doubles the guest capacity to 200 rooms (194 standard rooms and six two-room suites). The facility not only upgrades the experience for the guests, it's fueling a new vision for NGIS as a whole that will ultimately establish its brand.
"[The building] is in a prominent position on the base, it's right inside [Gate 1] ... you can see it from the 'Pell Bridge' [Claiborne Pell/Newport Bridge]," Coyne explained. "It had to be a visual goal route and our design had to reinforce that."
The design team responsible for bringing the concept to life consisted of the architectural engineering firm of Michael Baker International out of Pittsburg, Pa.; the construction firm of Korte Construction Company out of St. Louis, Mo.; and was overseen by NAVFAC MIDLANT and NGIS teams. The design of the building is in line with commercial, mid-grade hotel standards found across the U.S. and features a commercial laundry operation that will handle all the laundry needs of NGIS locations on the installation. This not only saves time and money, it increases the onsite quality control of the linen and terry products being provided to the guests.
The building was designed and built with a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver standards benchmark rating as a green building to use less energy and generate lower greenhouse gas emissions. Additionally, the building has digital controls for lighting, heating and air conditioning, as well as other digital features to save energy. It has lighting zones that can be turned on and off from the front desk area for efficiency, and plenty of natural lighting in the building to reduce the dependence of additional lights.
"A lot of the materials we used are not only sustainable in terms of LEED points, but they make maintenance easier, therefore reducing the lifecycle costs," Coyne said, noting the return on investment will be achieved over the life of the products used despite the upfront costs. "... we went with a lot of treatments that provided LEED credits for a much larger vision of the overall cost of this building through its lifespan, and as a quality experience for the guests."
"Each guest room is set up with individual heat and air conditioning that will allow the guest to control the temperature in the room and complies with the DOD adequacy standards established for lodging," said Norman Aurland, the Regional Lodging Director and NGIS Project Manager. "It has all the amenities of a mid-grade hotel while providing the convenience of being on the installation, close to the TDY [temporary duty] location."
It also has the first 24-hour Navy Exchange micro mart on the East Coast within a lodging facility, equipped with a self-service kiosk that allows guests to purchase hot and cold sandwiches, hot and cold drinks, fresh fruit and various snacks.
Aurland said a lot of thought and consideration went into the design and look of the building, creating a home away from home environment, and the decor pays homage to the New England area.
"We did not stop with our vision on the installation of just building a new facility," he explained. "We also put another $35M of non-appropriated funds (NAF) into restoring and upgrading three additional NGIS buildings on the installation, ensuring the entire base has upgraded operations that meet or exceed DoD adequacy standards."
For NGIS, the design and functionality of the new building were a top priority and focused heavily on the overall guest experience.
"We will ensure that the military members here on TDY have a rest and relaxation opportunity while staying," Aurland said, noting each of the state-of-the-art rooms comes equipped with a comfortable queen-sized bed and soft linens, roller shades with a blackout curtain, stand-up shower, a large vanity with mirrors, a 49 inch flatscreen TV, hairdryer, iron and ironing board, microwave and micro fridge, Keurig coffee maker with all the fixings, a bar sink, free WiFi and hardwired Internet access in all rooms, and furnishings throughout that enhances the building decor.
Free WiFi is also available throughout the building and in the common areas, and the on-site Business Center is equipped with both NMCI and non-NMCI computers to allow guests to check their e-mail and browse the Internet.
"We spent a lot of time crafting all aspects of the facility, from the clerestory check-in area, the individual guest rooms, to the two-story lobby/lounge where Sailors can relax by the fireplace," Coyne said. "... as well as an outdoor patio where guests can barbecue or relax by the water."
Coyne said this project will serve as an inspiration and platform for additional projects in the future.
"If we can do it here, let's do it everywhere," he said. "Our Sailors deserve a quality guest experience. This is a shining example of when we put our best effort forward, we can really get great results!"
Although this is the first hotel built by the Navy, it will not be the last. There are projects in the pipeline to build similar facilities in Mayport and Jacksonville, Fla., and Dahlgren, Va. funded by the all-NAF concept. NGIS is also working to eliminate smaller facilities that are no longer efficient or needed to right-size their inventory.
"Rather than putting large amounts of money into renovating smaller buildings, we will look heavily at the replacement and consolidation [of NGIS buildings] on an installation where it makes financial sense," Aurland explained. "If we can take an installation that has three NGIS buildings and consolidate them into one, it's a cost savings for the program and a savings of land usage ... it brings all of our lodging operations into a campus-style environment for our TDY travelers."
NGIS provides lodging for official travelers and families of the DoD military and civilian workforce worldwide, and offers lodging on a space-available basis for the leisure traveler. The NGIS program utilizes a combination of installation lodging, and local community lodging for overflow that cannot be accommodated on the installation, to handle the needs of the official traveler.
Naval Station Newport is the Navy's Center of Excellence for Officer and Senior Enlisted education and development, with more than 17,000 students attending schools onboard the installation annually.
For more information on Navy Gateway Inns & Suites, visit http://ngis.dodlodging.net.