New Edelweiss resort getting good reviews
January 21, 2005
GARMISCH, Germany — Terry Musket is a retired Army master sergeant, but he’s not unemployed.
Musket spent the last eight months repairing helicopters in Iraq as an Army contractor. After a short rendezvous with his wife and kids, Musket is heading back to Iraq for eight more months.
The family spent part of its get-together last week at the Edelweiss Lodge and Resort, the newly opened, Army-owned hotel in the Bavarian Alps, which is getting good reviews from people who’ve come from downrange.
“It’s awesome,” said Musket, who works near Baghdad with 4th Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division. “In some respects, it’s unnerving because it’s so peaceful. You’re waiting for a rocket to go off, a mortar to go off.
“But I’ve gotten more sleep since I’ve been here … it’s very relaxing.”
The 330-room Edelweiss Lodge, which opened Sept. 15, 2004, and cost $80 million to build, replaced three hotels that were previously operated by Armed Forces Recreation Center Europe.
For U.S. forces on rest and recuperation leave or block leave, prices are fairly cheap. Single rooms go for $90 for two nights and double-occupancy rooms cost $120. There are complimentary tours and activities to keep the kids busy as well.
The opening hasn’t gone off without a hitch, however. There have been a few hiccups along the way — doors that needed adjusting, plumbing that leaked.
But there have been no major failures, according to Christopher Forbes, Edelweiss spokesman.
“[We have] been overwhelmingly pleased with how the facility is functioning,” Forbes said. “We occasionally conduct maintenance repairs to mechanical items. When these situations occur, we attempt to minimize any guest impact.”
The hotel has been operating at 90 percent to 100 percent occupancy since it opened, Forbes said, and while people have at times not been able to get a room on certain dates, he said rooms normally are available within a few days of the guest’s first choice.
“If a guest has no flexibility in their dates, it is strongly suggested to book as far in advance as possible,” Forbes said. “This is especially true for federal holidays, [schools’] spring break and other times when children are out of school.”
Staff Sgt. Justin Evans, of the 1st Infantry Division’s Division Support Command in Kitzingen, was vacationing last week with his wife, Nga, and their 4-year-old son, Zachary.
Evans, of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, was among the first soldiers to return from Iraq from the 1st Infantry Division’s yearlong deployment.
“It feels kind of nice to be pampered,” he said. “You don’t expect it to be this nice when you get here,” he said. “I’ve paid a lot more to stay in much worse hotels than this.”
When the rest of 1st ID returns over the next few months, Evans said he would share his experiences with them.
“Absolutely I’ll be telling my soldiers about it,” he said.
Nick and Tiffany Chobot, who are married and both are senior airmen with the 435th Services Squadron at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, also were pleasantly surprised when they arrived at the Edelweiss after a four-month deployment in Iraq.
“It’s very nice, very relaxing,” Tiffany Chobot said. “We thought it would be smaller.”
More information about R&R and block-leave eligibility can be found at: www.edelweisslodgeandresort.com.