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If you’re just beginning to think about spending some of the winter ski season at the Armed Forces Recreation Center in Garmisch, Germany, you’re coming to the party a bit late.

At this point, servicemembers and others hoping to take advantage of discount ski weeks might want to think about spring instead, according to Leigh Plowman, recreation director for AFRC and the Edelweiss Lodge and Resort.

“Christmas is pretty booked, and there are a couple of weeks in February where everybody’s got vacation and we’re pretty full,” Plowman said. “Holidays are tough. There are already people planning ahead.

“But from the end of February through March, there’s great skiing and a lot of space available.”

Ski season officially starts Thanksgiving weekend, and there are still spaces available in some of the ski and snowboard packages at Garmisch for guests of the new Edelweiss Lodge.

The 330-room hotel holds its official grand opening on Saturday. It had a “soft” opening in September and has been hosting guests and conventioneers ever since — between 600 and 800 per night, Plowman said.

The buzz created by its construction and opening has succeeded in luring skiers and snowboarders into reserving rooms there and at AFRC’s nearby vacation cabins and Keans Lodge.

“We’ve got about 2,000 people signed up for our ski weeks,” Plowman said.

AFRC’s specially priced ski-week packages are four-day and weeklong deals that include instruction, equipment and lift tickets. There are 16 ski weeks this season, starting in mid-December.

Ski-week packages are for resort guests, Plowman said, including troops returning to Europe from Iraq and Afghanistan and those who are on rest-and-recuperation leave.

He said eligible persons staying at other hotels in Garmisch can rent equipment and buy discounted passes through AFRC. Persons not staying at the Edelweiss hotel and cabins can purchase ski-week packages only if space is available.

“We give first priority to resort guests; we just have to cater to these people first,” Plowman said. “Some people think [smaller hotels in Garmisch] are a great deal, but they’re missing out on a lot of things we have to offer our resort guests.

“We’ve got cool things we do every day for free or at low cost for resort guests that gets them out of the hotel,” including local tours and side trips to places like Munich and the Neuschwanstein castle.

Plowman said people should not be dissuaded from going to Garmisch even if they can’t get the ski-week package on the days they want.

“We’ve got a state-of-the-art [equipment] rental facility, probably the biggest in Europe, and we’re right on the hill,” he said. “It’s a good American atmosphere and you’re still skiing in Europe.”

More about the AFRC vacation packages ...

Here are the prices for packages available through the Armed Forces Recreation Center Europe in Garmisch, Germany. Ski Youth is for ages 8-15; Snowboard Youth is 12-15; and Ski Kids is 5-7.

¶ Ski and snowboard week (five ski days): adults $295; youth $235; Ski Kids $225.

¶ Four-day ski and snowboard instruction (in conjunction with Martin Luther King Jr. and Presidents Day holidays): adults $250; youth $200; Ski Kids $190.

¶ Two-day holiday specials: adults $110; youth $100; Ski Kids $90.

¶ Lessons (two hours): group $25; semi-private $35; private $60.

All instruction packages include: Daily instruction, transportation to ski area, lift pass for appropriate slope, equipment and ski clothing, awards banquet.

Advanced booking for instruction is required. Contact the Hausberg Sport Lodge at DSN 440-2591 or civilian (+49) (0) 8821-729400.

Information: Alpine Adventures at Edelweiss Lodge and Resort at civilian (+49) (0)8821-9440. Web site: www.afrceurope.com. Enter site, click on “activities,” “recreation programs” and “ski/snowboard” for ski-week schedules.

Note that ski-week packages are for guests staying at Edelweiss Lodge and Resort facilities, such as the hotel and cabins. People staying elsewhere will be accommodated as space and equipment are available.

Source: Edelweiss Lodge and Resort

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