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AFRC Europe: Home Away from Home

By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service

GARMISCH, Germany, Feb. 19, 1998 – Snowy peaks, crisp, mountain air, the aroma of wood smoke, people in lederhosen and Alpine caps. Who can resist the lure of Bavaria?

For more than 50 years, Armed Forces Recreation Center Europe has offered service members, DoD civilians and family members stationed in Europe an economical home away from home in two of southern Germany's most beautiful resorts. AFRC Europe facilities are located at Garmisch and Chiemsee, less than 100 miles south of Munich.

In Garmisch, at the base of the Zugspitze, Germany's highest mountain, visitors can ski the Alps while staying at the Patton Hotel or Von Steuben hotels. In summer, Garmisch features a nine-hole golf course, a 104-site campground, kayaking, hang gliding, mountain biking, hiking and more.

At nearby Chiemsee, on the shores of Germany's largest inland lake, vacationers ski the nearby slopes in winter and, swim, sail, scuba dive and windsurf in summer. Chiemsee also features two American hotels, the Park and Lake, and a 112-site campground.

AFRC Europe facilities are open to military, DoD civilians and family members assigned to U.S. European Command. They are also open to military retirees, reservists and National Guard assigned to Europe, and NATO allies assigned to NATO or SHAPE headquarters.

Rates for AFRC accommodations are based on double occupancy and visitors' pay grades. In Garmisch, the two hotels feature 179 rooms. An E-1 to E-5 staying at the General Patton or Von Steuben pays about $55. Guests O-7 and above pay about $67.

Chiemsee hotels feature 156 rooms. An E-1 to E-5 pays about $50 to stay at Park Hotel and $54 at Lake Hotel. Small suites are also available for about $77 and large suites for $92. An O-7 or higher pays about $62 at Lake Hotel and $66 at Park Hotel. Senior people pay the same rates for suites as do junior grades.

Children aged 15 and under are free in their parents' room on available bed space. Single occupants get a $3 per night discount. There is a $9 a night charge for more than two adults. Cribs cost an added $3 a night and extra cots or sofa beds cost $6 a night. Prices and schedules are subject to change. Pets are not allowed in AFRC facilities.

Travel camp rates vary based on sites. A tent site, for example, costs about $10 for E-1 to E-5. A gravel site with electricity costs about $15 and a large trailer site costs about $40. For more senior grade visitors, the same sites cost about $12, $16, and $43, respectively. Seasonal rates are also available: May to October, $990, and October to May, $980. Travel camp rates for other than American forces and civilians are slightly higher.

Both resorts offer learn-to-ski programs, including daily downhill ski and snowboarding lessons for skiers of all levels, as well as weekly programs. A cross-country ski program is offered at the Hausberg Lodge in Garmisch.

Ski packages include equipment and lift fees. The Early Bird Special costs $159 for all ages and abilities. Super Saver Week costs $195 for adults and $160 for youth aged 8 to 15, and kids 5 to 7. Ski Austria Week, for intermediate and advanced skiers, is $321 for adults and $280 for youths aged 12 to 15.

For experienced skiers who only want to rent equipment, skis, boots, poles and clothing cost $16 a day for adults and $13 for children. Cross country equipment is also available: $6 a day for an adult and $5 per child. Snowboards, sleds and other specialty skis are also available for a fee. A ski repair shop is also on site. Daily ski lift prices at the Zugspitze this year cost $30 for an adult, $22 for youth, and $19 for children.

Both resorts also offer other outdoor sports programs. At Garmisch, for example, Golf Week costs $239 per person, rock climbing and rappelling cost $45 per person per day, and white-water rafting costs $54 per person per day.

At Chiemsee, Sailing/Windsurfing Week costs $159; Paragliding/Hang Gliding Week, $309; and Introductory Scuba Week $425. Prices include instruction and equipment. Age limits apply, so parents are advised to check ahead.

Children's programs are a popular feature at both resorts. Children aged 5 to 12 can take part in the Just for Kids Program, where they participate in new activities each day, including arts and crafts, ice skating, sledding and even a trip to the Munich zoo. The $19.50 daily charge includes lunch. Older children in groups of 15 or more may design their own Kids Adventure Program, featuring mountain biking, hiking, canoeing, rock climbing or white-water rafting.

AFRC also offers tours to nearby Oberammergau, Munich, Dachau and Berchtesgaden in Germany, and Salzburg and Innsbruck, Austria. Tours are also offered to such nearby tourist attractions as Eagle's Nest, Hitler's summer home; and Herrenchiemsee, Linderhof, and Neuschwanstein, three castles built by Bavarian King Ludwig II in the late 1800s. Tour prices range from about $13 to $35 for adults and about $5 to $30 for youth.

A new vacation planning center in Garmisch gives visitors a faster, easier way to book rooms at both Garmisch and Chiemsee. Reservations can be made by calling: DSN 440-2575; civilian from outside Germany 49-8821-72981; civilian from inside Germany 08821-72981; FAX: 08821-3942.

E-mail reservation requests sent to vacation@afrc.garmisch.army.mil will be answered promptly, according to AFRC officials. Reservation requests can also be mailed to: The Vacation Planning Center, Unit 24501, APO AE 09053, or Lazarettstrasse 7, 82467 Garmsich-Partenkirchen.

Generally, AFRC facilities are 85 percent booked year round. Peak periods are from Christmas to March, and June through August. Reservations should be made early, and there is no penalty for canceling at least seven days in advance. Promotional videotapes are available for $4.95 and include a $10.00 coupon.

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Click photo for screen-resolution imageVisitors at Lake Hotel at the Armed Forces Recreation Center in Chiemsee, Germany, enjoy dinner in the hotel dining room. AFRC Photo  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageEagle's Nest, Hitler's summer residence, is one of the local attractions for visitors staying at the Armed Forces Recreation Center facilities in southern Germany. AFRC Photo  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imagePatrons of Armed Forces Recreation Center at Chiemsee can spend summer hours sailing Lake Chiemsee in southern Germany. AFRC Photo  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageSki slopes in the Bavarian Alps and Austria draw skiers from around the world to resorts in southern Germany. U.S. military skiers can enjoy an economical home away from home at Armed Forces Recreation Center hotels in Garmisch and Chiemsee, Germany. AFRC Photo  
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