Panzer Hotel hosts grand opening

It’s official. The Panzer Hotel is now open for guests, following a grand opening ceremony Dec. 15.

“I want to welcome you to U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart’s latest pride and joy — and it’s the Panzer Hotel,” said Garrison Commander Col. Carl D. Bird during the event.

“This has been a huge project. It’s taken a while to come to fruition,” he said.

Two years, in fact. Construction on the seven-floor, $32 million hotel began in January 2009. The project was managed by USAG Stuttgart Directorate of Public Works, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the German construction agency, SHBA (Staatliches Hochbauamt Reutlingen).

The hotel is the 13th lodging facility in the world to be completed under the Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation Headquarters’ Army Lodging Wellness Program, according to Frank Kislan, FMWR Command project manager for major nonappropriated fund construction in Europe.

The hotel is a result of a 2005 Army Lodging wellness survey, which found that demand in USAG Stuttgart merited another lodging facility.

However, it’s more than just a place to spend the night, Kislan added. The Panzer Hotel is the first and last impression that service members and families have of USAG Stuttgart.

“It is the first place that your new Soldiers and their families come to,” Kislan said. “This is their first night, they’re tired from PCSing, and they come in here to this facility. They see a warm, hospitable environment … they enjoy the amenities, and when they leave, hopefully, they have the same feeling.”

The Panzer Hotel opened just after the garrison’s two oldest hotels, the Hilltop Hotel on Robinson Barracks and Swabian Inn on Patch Barracks, were closed. The Hilltop was recently funded for use as an Army Post Office, according to Stephen Ritterbush, chief of the DPW Master Planning Division.

This leaves the Panzer Hotel and Kelley Hotel to meet the community’s lodging demands — a daunting task.

In 2010, 3,387 military and civilian families either moved into or out of the community, according to Iris Jones, USAG Stuttgart Housing Office chief.

The Panzer Hotel is up to the challenge with capacity for 720 guests. The hotel has 69 standard rooms, 84 extended-stay rooms and 65 family suites, and is fully air-conditioned.                                 

The Kelley Hotel, which opened in 2001, has room for up to 264 guests.

The Panzer Hotel meets 100 percent of the new Army Lodging standards. It also earned the LEED Sustainable Project Silver Standard Rating, according to Norm Seare, DPW project manager and general engineer.

It was also designed to meet the needs of service members, Defense Department civilians and their families, according to Dave Roach, Panzer Hotel manager.

“One of the things they’ll find out once they stay here is that the location is perfect,” he said. “It’s right next to the Exchange. The credit union, in-processing, out-processing, the USO [and] driver’s education office are within a five-minute walk of the facility.”

Even the rooms were created with military families in mind. Family suites feature a full kitchen with a stove top, microwave oven, garbage disposal, dishwasher, full-size refrigerator and freezer, and dining table with chairs. The kitchen is stocked with pots, pans and dishes for a family of four, and loaner kits are available for larger families.

Extended-stay rooms feature a stove top, microwave oven and small refrigerator, with dish kits available on a sign-out basis. Standard rooms have a microwave and small refrigerator.

All rooms are equipped for wired Internet access. Ten of the rooms are American Disability Act compliant, and 12 are pet friendly. The hotel also has a fitness area, outdoor playground and open breakfast area.

Nancy Rose and her husband, a DoD civilian, arrived in USAG Stuttgart in early December. “We called [the Panzer Hotel] and checked in. It was a huge relief to get into a nice, warm room where everything was working,” she said.

She also appreciated the option to stay in a pet-friendly room with her dog. “It feels great when you can be in a room with your pet and not have to worry about them being someplace else, away from you,” she said.

School-age children staying in the hotel can catch the school bus to Patch or Robinson Barracks at the hotel’s front entrance. 

The hotel saves energy through devices including motion detectors in the room that lower the temperature to a pre-determined setting after an hour of no activity. The tilt-open windows also have detectors that turn heating and cooling off when windows are open. Hallway lights remain off until activated by motion sensors.

Because of these specialized amenities, and since the hotel is new, Roach said guests should be aware that rates are higher than those at older Army Lodging facilities.

Rates start at $120 per night for a standard room, $135 for an extended-stay room and $150 for a family suite. Portions of room rates fund the Army Lodging Extensive Sustainment program, future renovations at the Panzer Hotel, as well as Army Lodging construction worldwide, Roach added.

The price includes laundry access, parking and a grab-and-go continental breakfast.