Budget constraints having effect on Edelweiss bookings
Stars and Stripes September 10, 2013
This report has been clarified.
KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany — The Edelweiss Lodge and Resort, a popular vacation spot and conference center for servicemembers and their families in the German Alps, is feeling the pinch of troop reductions in Europe and budget constraints that have limited military members’ temporary duty travel.
Those changes have prompted the resort to convert nearly 25 percent of its guest rooms into employee housing, according to an Edelweiss news release.
One of four Armed Forces Recreation Centers worldwide run by the Army, Edelweiss has seen a 15 percent drop in occupancy that began during the second quarter of fiscal 2013, according to an Edelweiss spokesman.
Individual room reservations account for about 10 percent of the decline, while fewer conferences being booked make up for the remainder of the decrease.
“We believe the occupancy rate is most reflective of the reduction in troop population in Europe and secondly due to the effects of restrictive conference guidance brought about by current budget constraints,” the spokesman said in a statement.
Edelweiss officials did not say what the current occupancy rate is, but a spokesman said Tuesday that the resort on average has a 90 percent occupancy rate.
Troop reductions in Europe began last year, driven by changing strategic interests and budgetary pressures. A total of about 11,000 troops are expected to leave Europe over the next several years, leaving just under 70,000 servicemembers in Europe.
Many military units this year curtailed or eliminated all but mission-essential travel due to sequestration and other budget constraints.
Despite the drop in reservations at Edelweiss, room rates and the level and cost of services and programs remain unchanged, resort officials said.
But the resort is in the process of restructuring, an Edelweiss spokesman said in a statement. In July, the resort began reconfiguring 80 guest rooms into staff housing “to help reduce overhead and better match the changing military market in Europe,” says an Edelweiss news release.
An Edelweiss spokesman said Tuesday that with the new configuration, the resort has 258 guest rooms, including deluxe cabins. Staff members had been living in a separate staff housing installation, the spokesman said.
Located in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, a Bavarian mountain resort town nestled in a stunning valley near the Alps in southern Germany, Edelweiss has been a popular destination for U.S. military personnel, Defense Department civilians, retirees and their families since opening nine years ago.
Weekends and holidays remain periods of high demand, Edelweiss officials said, but rooms are almost always available Sunday through Thursday. A new online reservation system is available at: http://www.edelweisslodgeandresort.com/news-deals/.
The other Armed Forces Recreation Centers are the Hale Koa Hotel in Honolulu; Shades of Green, on the grounds of Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla., and Dragon Hill Lodge, in Seoul, South Korea.
The facilities and their programs are completely self-supporting, according to a recent Pentagon news release, noting that occupancy rates at all but Edelweiss have remained steady, typically at 90 percent or higher. Edelweiss does not receive any direct appropriated-fund support for operating and maintaining the resort, officials said.
ClarificationThe Edelweiss Lodge and Resort hotel is one of four Armed Forces Recreation Centers operated by the Army worldwide.