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Three Europe Recreation Resorts to Close Earlier Than Planned

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, April 7, 2003 – The war in Iraq, increased force protection and a declining dollar value overseas have forced Army officials to close three of its armed forces recreation centers in Europe a year earlier than planned.

The Von Steuben Hotel in Garmisch will close April 15, while the Chiemsee Lake and Park hotels will remain open through Labor Day, Sept. 1, and close permanently the next day. All three hotels were originally scheduled to close in October 2004.

Meanwhile, Garmisch's Patton Hotel, Alpenblick Golf Course, outdoor recreation equipment checkout center, tour service and the campground will stay open.

"Because of the world situation, we've had to adjust our operations," Pete Isaacs, chief operating officer at the U.S. Army Community and Family Support Center, said. The Army center runs the recreation centers, which are open to all Department of Defense ID-card holders, active duty and reserve components, retirees, and their families.

"Many of our customers in Europe are deployed to Operation Iraqi Freedom and their families are taking care of business at home. Understandably, vacations are on hold. As a result, current and predicted occupancy has fallen dramatically," he explained.

Isaacs said other factors that hurt AFRC Europe operations were increased security concerns, which he said reduces vacation travel, and the value of the U.S. dollar overseas.

"We've had to deal with a 19 percent devaluation of the dollar against the Euro, which is the currency used to pay for 50 percent of our operating expenses," Isaacs said.

Remaining AFRC Europe facilities in Garmisch will stay open while the new 330- room hotel Sheridan there is under construction. The hotel will open in October 2004, the date Army had planned to end all operations in Chiemsee and close the hotel in Garmisch.

Isaacs said the resort closures would reduce the number of available guest rooms at AFRC Europe hotels from 343 to 119. "During peak seasons, if we need additional rooms, guests will be referred to commercial hotels in Garmisch at rates comparable to those of the AFRC hotel," he said.

(Based on a U.S. Army Community and Family Support Center press release.)

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