ORLANDO — JetBlue Airways held an official ribbon-cutting ceremony here today to open its boutique hotel–The Lodge at Orlando Support Center–to serve the more than 7,000 crewmembers that visit the training facility each year for new-hire and recurrent training.
The new four-story, 115,000 square foot, 196-room facility was designed by Gensler, the same architecture firm that designed JetBlue’s acclaimed Terminal 5 at JFK Airport. The Lodge also boasts several places to eat, along with work and collaborative study spaces, health and fitness facilities and outdoor activity areas.
More than 100 employees, along with JetBlue officials and representatives from Pyramid Hotels, the company managing The Lodge, attended a small ribbon-cutting ceremony earlier today. Throughout the afternoon, employees guided the media on tours, and the event included remarks from government and airline officials.
During the speeches, it was evident that today was a sigh of relief for the airline. It originally broke ground on The Lodge back in June 2006. However, financial setbacks caused JetBlue to put the project on hold. A year later, the carrier provided an update, insisting that it still planned to go through with the project, but the 2008 recession halted construction.
Again, JetBlue cancelled its plans to go though with the project. However, the airline still wanted to go through with the project. Over the next few years, JetBlue continued to grow its presence in central Florida, and in November 2013, it finally broke ground on The Lodge.
“JetBlue’s distinct culture literally starts from day one. Instead of ending collaboration as crewmembers disperse for the night, we can continue to build lasting relationships in our very own lodging facility,” said Warren Christie, senior vice president, safety, security and training at JetBlue. “With The Lodge we are investing in our most important asset – our people. This facility will help strengthen our Orlando campus, offering crewmembers continued exposure to our culture, our brand and who we are as a company. “
The Lodge was built with culture, sustainability and collaboration in mind. When entering the facility, crewmembers are greeted at a check-in desk, where they are given their keys and information about The Lodge. Next, they can head up to their rooms, or visit the cafeteria, the bar or enjoy some time in the atrium.
The Lodge has a 2,000-square foot 24/7 hour fitness center, which features cardio and strength training equipment, a walking track and bicycles for use on local roads.
Outside, there is an outdoor fire pit seating area, basketball half court, soccer practice field, fields for kickball and softball and a saltwater pool. There are even citrus and herb gardens around the building to be used in the cafeteria and bar.
A special roof system has been installed over the The Lodge to help reduce energy consumption when it comes to cooling the space, which is especially important during hot summers in Orlando. The facility also boasts low-flow plumbing fixtures, Energy Star appliances and LED lighting. All of the restrooms are equipped with hand dryers to reduce paper, and the facility uses a refillable glass water bottle system to reduce plastic bottle waste.
Each room is outfitted with one double bed, a TV, and alarm clock–just like a normal hotel room. The rooms are small, but JetBlue wants to encourage crewmembers to collaborate, whether they are playing a game in the atrium or sitting in the seating area. By Tuesday night, the hotel will be at full capacity, as more than 100 new hires will arrive.
The Lodge has created 70 permanent jobs for Central Florida residents and will bring more than 7,000 JetBlue crewmembers and visitors to the Orlando area each year.
“It is great to see JetBlue continue to develop and further expand its operations here in Central Florida. JetBlue is a strong contributor to our local economy, employing more than 1,400 local residents, and that role continues to grow,” said Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.), whose district includes parts of Orlando. “This facility promises to add to this growing footprint in our community and create a key hub for JetBlue personnel and pilots. I look forward to working with JetBlue as they continue to grow and provide outstanding service to its customers.”
“Orlando is a critical destination center for families, both domestic and international tourists, and working professionals. JetBlue’s increased presence at the Orlando International Airport, particularly with the opening of their new hotel for flight crew in training, The Lodge at OSC, is a welcome addition as it enhances economic growth and opportunity in Central Florida,” said Rep. Daniel Webster (R-Fla), whose district also includes parts of Orlando.
“Since I took office, I have worked to diversify our economy, revitalize Downtown and support arts, culture and entertainment amenities to create a City that offers a high quality of life for everyone who lives, works and plays in Orlando,” said Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer. “It is rewarding to see that these investments are paying off, with national corporations, like JetBlue, expanding their investment in Orlando and bringing not only further enhanced travel and jobs for our residents, but also continuing to make a significant economic impact in our community.”
Although JetBlue is based out of New York, Orlando is one of the company’s six focus cities, and it plays an important role for the airline. JetBlue operates up to 68 daily departures to two dozen destinations at Orlando International Airport, with nearly 1,400 crewmembers employed in central Florida at its Orlando Support Center, JetBlue University, Orlando International Airport and its Orlando Hangar. JetBlue University opened in 2005, the Orlando bilingual contact center at JetBlue University opened in 2013, and JetBlue’s Orlando maintenance hangar opened in 2014.