Tuesday, February 21, 2006

New Hotel Opens on Travis AFB

New Hotel Opens on Travis AFB
By Ian Thompson

TRAVIS AFB - Travis Air Force Base's top-of-the-line, 350-room Westwind Inn took in its first customers last week. The formal opening ceremony is slated for Thursday, the Travis Public Affairs Office said Friday.

The $40 million hotel with a spa, business center and restaurant will allow the base to accommodate more visiting military and government officials on base. It opens after almost 2.5 years of planning and construction and will lessen the base's dependence on off-base hotels.

Talks to build the Westwind Inn started in 1993. Those plans received a big boost in 2000 when the Air Force decided to make its hotels similar to mid-level accommodations found in nearby cities.

Previously, the base shipped large numbers of people to hotels in Fairfield and Vacaville, spending a considerable amount of government money on rooms, up to $10 million a year, said Doug Marchel, the base's lodging manager.

The Westwind's 350 rooms will add to 220 temporary rooms already on base.

This eliminates one worry regarding possible base closures - inadequate transient housing could jeopardize Travis' future.

This opening makes the Westwind one of only three such hotels in the Air Force with the other two located at Osan Air Base in Korea and at Nellis AFB in Nevada.

The decision to build Westwind, announced two years ago, startled local hotel owners. City officials responded by creating the Fairfield Hotel Association to put Fairfield into the itineraries of travel companies and tour groups.

The association also started an effort to put a California Welcome Center on land near the Fairfield Auto Mall.

Reach Ian Thompson at 427-6976 or at ithompson@dailyrepublic.net.

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