Army cuts room rates for overseas lodging, but resort hotels rise
October 12, 2016
SEOUL, South Korea — The Army has cut guest-lodging prices by 15 percent to 40 percent at bases in South Korea and Germany due to savings from the privatization of facilities in the United States.
However, room rates increased at full-service resort hotels like the Dragon Hill Lodge at Yongsan Garrison in Seoul.
The Army has turned over most of its U.S. hotels to large companies in an effort to save money and modernize facilities under a program called Privatization of Army Lodging, or PAL. But it maintains control of guest lodges on overseas installations because of arrangements with the host countries.
Before the privatization program, $15 of every night’s stay went to capitalization, said Marc Jannsen, hospitality operations manager at Installation Management Command headquarters in Texas.
“Since we’ve closed down all Army lodging in the U.S. we have an excess of cash reserves,” he said Wednesday by telephone.
The price cuts, which took effect Oct. 1, are based on operating expenses and vary according to hotel size.
A standard room at Camp Humphreys, south of Seoul, dropped from $64 last year to $47, while the same category went from $54 to $43 at Camp Red Cloud, home to the 2nd Infantry Division near the border with North Korea. Prices dropped from $91 to $78 at Daegu, near the southeast tip of the peninsula.
Germany also saw steep cuts, with rates dropping from $75 to $45 at U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden.
Rates for Army lodging in Japan were already low so the change was small, with rates falling just $1 to $38 at Camp Zama.
The cost of staying at Dragon Hill Lodge, meanwhile, rose by about 15 percent, depending on rank. For example, privates pay $85, up from $74; while Defense Department civilian employees pay $113, up from $99. The rate for official temporary duty stays remains $230.
The rate increase was necessary because of the higher cost to operate the hotel and maintain a high level of service, said Dragon Hill Lodge general manager Brian Campbell.
“We kept our prices as low as we possibly could based on the rising costs to maintain the rooms,” he said.
The difference is in the mission.
Army lodging is primarily for soldiers and their families transitioning to new assignments — a move known as PCS, or permanent change of station — or on temporary duty assignments — known as TDY. The facilities are funded by the installations and taxpayer money.
Dragon Hill Lodge is one of four joint service facilities known as Armed Forces Recreation Centers, meant as vacation getaways for servicemembers. The others are Edelweiss Lodge and Resort in Germany, the Hale Koa Hotel in Hawaii and Shades of Green near Orlando, Fla.
Rates rose for all of them due to increased costs and renovation plans, Jannsen said.
“You have one activity that is heavily supported by taxpayer funds and one that isn’t,” he said.
He acknowledged that Dragon Hill Lodge has been heavily focused on official stays because of its location at Yongsan, headquarters for U.S. Forces Korea and the 8th Army. But he said that was changing with plans to relocate most American troops to an expanded Camp Humphreys over the next few years.
“Dragon Hill Lodge has been transitioning from a majority of business from PCS and TDY to leisure travel,” he said, pointing to a marketing campaign called “Discover Seoul” aimed at attracting retirees and their families to visit the area.
“By the time the Yongsan transition happens, we believe that the number of leisure reservations that we have and the number of people coming to Dragon Hill will be able to sustain it.”
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