The Sand Dollar Inn is new and improved

  • Published
  • By Venessa Armenta
  • 325th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

The original Sand Dollar Inn was built in 1941; more than 80 years later, it is undergoing a monumental rebuild.

Prior to Hurricane Michael in 2018, the Sand Dollar Inn was comprised of 13 visitor’s quarters consisting of 371 rooms. Of the original 13, two buildings remain with only 123 rooms currently in use.

Though this volume loss has proven difficult for the lodging staff while they try to accommodate hotel guests, they have remained committed to providing the same level of service while awaiting the completion of their new facility.

“We have managed through the transition and rolled with the many changes to our lodging enterprise,” said Joseph Moore, 325th Force Support Squadron lodging manager. “We are blessed with great [squadron] leadership staff supporting us in our challenges, and our lodging team is excited.”

The new Sand Dollar Inn, slated for completion in Fall 2024, will be a modern five-story, sleek building. Amenities include laundry facilities, a restaurant, conference rooms and an additional 360 guest rooms with a lobby at the center of two symmetric east and west wings. Furthermore, the building is expected to withstand winds of 165mph and up to a Category 5 hurricane. 

In addition to the new facility, the two currently operable visitor’s quarters will remain as backups for large-scale events providing a total of 483 rooms.

“The few surviving facilities we have will be kept to provide for overflow,” said Mary Rutland, Natural Disaster Recovery Division Zone 10 project manager. “Those rooms are particularly vital if you have a full class of students for the [Noncommissioned Officer] academy, the [Air Battle Manager] sim and Checkered Flag going on simultaneously.”

Not only will this facility provide temporary lodging to service members on temporary assignment, it will also help Airmen and their families moving to Tyndall.

“We will be able to bed down many more travelers on base, saving dollars to the travel line and commute time to their work center on base,” Moore said. “The new lodging will be centrally located to facilities supporting their quality of life needs; there will be nearby facilities like the dining facility, The Exchange, Commissary, fitness center, restaurants, library and a bowling center, to name a few.”

Walkability was another important factor taken into consideration in this project, as the previous visitor’s quarters were disbursed throughout the installation.

As Tyndall advances its efforts to become the “Installation of the Future,” design and function were of high priority for the project.

Moore discusses some of the innovative features the facility will include to improve guests stay such as a digital guest information site that takes the place of the standard guest room hard copy binder and the new Lodging Entertainment Platform that will allow guests access to their personal streaming services, like Netflix or Hulu. The system is also designed to delete all personal access data provided by the guest at check-out.