JAL — Top executives and city officials gathered by the dozens in the desert about a mile east of Jal Tuesday for a symbolic groundbreaking ceremony for the new multi-million-dollar Criollo Lodge man camp investment.
Set to open for operation by February with 93 beds, the lodge is expected to house up to 558 by June. Officials predicted a possible second phase bringing the total to as many as 930 executive rooms.
“Our primary objective is to bring a service that’s needed in this region,” Amity Lodges founder and chairman David Werklund told the News-Sun. “With that, we have a very sensitive desire in being involved in helping our community here, be very community minded and show people we care. We will work with people to achieve a standard that everybody can be proud of.”
Canadian-based Amity Lodges is an international hospitality company and part of an organization the entrepreneur Werklund created with 14 divisions, heavily involved in oil and gas production services.
Aramark Remote Workplace Services will operate the multi-million-dollar camp using as many as 70 employees when the lodge is fully occupied.
To the crowd of well-wishers in attendance at the groundbreaking, See Hon Tung, managing director for Werklund Family Office, said, “We have Aramark here to provide a professional, full-service facility here to provide any business requirements. Aramark’s experience in providing exactly this type of hospitality and service in Canada, as well as other parts of the world, is one of the main attractions to bring them and partner here with us.”
With scores of modules already on site, visitors were offered an opportunity to visit rooms to be available to workers and executives of the oil field. In addition to a bed, each room contains its own bathroom, shower, wardrobe and other amenities.
“The idea was to bring down to the Permian Basin a facility that would be all-encompassing, provide the hospitality that we know the workforce accommodation deserves,” Tung told the assembled crowd. “Our plan is to have executive style rooms for all people that stay here, as well as a facility that can feed, house and provide some recreation, all within the site right here.”
Tung told the News-Sun the facility will be capable of providing 5,000 meals a day “and will be open to the public for dine-in, take-out or rig boxes. Our aim at Amity Lodges, with our partner Aramark, is to provide a safe, comfortable and enjoyable living environment with quality food and service. We’ve designed the facility to be shielded from the weather and have ample parking spaces for light and heavy vehicles.”
Amenities at the facility will include a 26,424-square-foot kitchen and dining hall in 39 modules with up to 780 dining hall seats.
A 12,880-square-foot recreation center in 18 modules will include a game room, a cardio room, a workout gym, a theater room, a commissary and an administration area.
A total of six two-story dormitories totaling 121,116 square feet, using 156 modules, will provide 93 executive rooms per dorm.
An interior interconnecting corridor using six modules to link all buildings together will cover 6,128 square feet.
The total building size comes to 219 modules and 165,548 square feet.
Local and state officials in the gathered crowd included Jal Mayor Stephen Aldridge and his wife Karla; Jal City Council members Mike Orr, Jim Ellison, Amelia Trevino, Rene Cervantes, Lorenzo Chacon, and Melody Beckham; Jal City Manager Matt White, Jal Public Works Director Van Myrick, state Sen. Gregg Fulfer and his wife Kim, Lea County Environmental Director Lorenzo Velasquez and Richard Lucero of the state Construction Industries Division.
In addition to Tung and Werklund, officials of the Werklund Family Office and Amity Lodges Ltd. present included President Stefan Erasmus, Principal Private Investments Oliver Davidson, Project Manager from Aithra Projects Tian Alsgard and Management Consultant Ryan Bullock.
Aramark Corporation officials present included Greg Lawrie – vice president, growth; Brett Bottyan, vice president, remote services; Kristian Harold, director, business development; and Miguel Arce, Criollo Lodges sales.
Also participating in the groundbreaking were Adrianna Vandercook, Jacobs Engineering Project Management; and crew support services Robert Henson, business development vice president, and John Odette, operations vice president.
Amity Lodges spokeswoman Shannon Knutson explained the source of the lodge’s name.
“(For the company), we went with the name Amity Lodges as it denotes friendship,” Knutson said. “The name of each lodge will be after a breed of cattle to trace back the ranching heritage of the New Mexico area — the first lodge being the Criollo Lodge.”
Criollo cattle, descended from Spanish stock brought to the Americas, are known for being hardy in arid climates.
Aldridge and Bullock both told the News-Sun efforts already are underway for the area to be annexed into Jal.
Curtis C. Wynne may be contacted at .