Story by SGT Marc Loi
NORFOLK, Va. (Oct. 2, 2007) – The Joint Forces Staff College has once again been put on the map – this time thanks to its Navy Gateway Inns and Suites, which recently won the five-star Admiral Elmo R. Zumwalt Award for Excellence in Visitor Quarters Management. Members of the staff will be in New York in early November to receive the award at the annual New York International Restaurant and Hotel show.
The award didn't come easy. For two years, site director Mark Stevens worked feverishly at assembling a staff to meet the needs of customers and provide them with the best care possible during their stay at the College.
The result is a 281-bed facility that includes amenities such as around-the-clock service, DVD players, high speed Internet, coffee pots, microwaves and kitchens.
There are also 20 family houses and two distinguished visitor quarters for senior military officers visiting the area.
Although he is the lead for the operation, Stevens said the success and accolades received couldn't have been possible without the hard work of the staff, which can be found at the front desk 24/7 and cleaning quarters 7:30 a.m. – 4 p.m., everyday.
"They're doing an awesome job," Stevens said. "The manager can go away, but if you take away the day-to-day operations and the front desk, the operation stops."
Part of the success, Stevens said, can also be attributed to the customer-first mentally he and staff members carry to work everyday.
"The customers always come first. If there are no customers, we have no paychecks," he said. "We certainly pride ourselves in the quality of customer service we give."
Front desk supervisor Paul Eason agrees. "My pride and joy are the guests and their satisfaction," said Eason, who has been with the Inn for three years. "When they thank me for going above and beyond in assisting them, it's a good feeling."
A recent customer, a retired Navy captain, commented on how much he enjoyed his stay. "I recommended it to my brother, a retired admiral," the captain wrote.
Another customer hailed the Inn as having "the best service [he has] seen in 16 years of service, both in civilian and military hotels."
"It's a great place to work," Stevens said. "It's an honor to bring to JFSC its first five-star accreditation."