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DoD Civilians, Military Qualify for Vacation Club (corrected copy additional information)

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Aug. 17, 1999 – Service members and DoD civilians can sign up to participate in a new vacation club arranged between Army Morale, Welfare and Recreation and Resort Condominiums International.

The deal, open to active and reserve component service members, military retirees, DoD civilians and any other persons eligible to use military morale, welfare and recreation offices, offers condominium unit rentals for $209 per week at selected resorts. The normal rates are $600 to $1,500 per week in season, according to John Cully, RCI national vice president.

"I have gotten phones calls from scores of individual MWR offices talking about how great the program is -- gotten e-mails from places like Roanoke, Va., asking how to sign up," said Dan Yount, chief of Army leisure travel services. "The program seems to have a lot of response from people."

Yount said he thinks the program is a good deal for the DoD community. "I've stayed in some of these places at a much higher rate," he said. "It costs me $1,000-plus. So $209 a week for anything from a three-bedroom unit to an efficiency is a good deal. Also, these units are renovated every three years. These are great places."

Army MWR tested its Armed Forces Vacation Club at 18 military installations in the Washington, D.C., area from November 1998 to February 1999. Officials called the response excellent and expanded the program nationwide Aug. 1. It is not available for service members and civilians overseas, but Army officials say it may expand in the future.

RCI is a managing company affiliated with more than 3,500 time- share resorts worldwide. Because not all resort units are used by owners or rented all the time, the company must still pay upkeep costs, but receives no revenue while units are vacant. Sales vice president Mike Overfelt and Culley, both retired Army officers, suggested RCI offer condo rentals at cost to military members and DoD civilians.

"This way we're able to cover expenses and the service member is getting a fun, cheap vacation," Overfelt said.

In the arrangement between the Army and RCI, the vacationer can go to any military morale, welfare and recreation office and pick up an Armed Forces Vacation Club space-available voucher. They then call the 800 number on the voucher to speak to an RCI representative, who will describe what's available.

Service members or civilians give the voucher number and reserve a condo using a major credit card. The MWR office receives $20 for every voucher it issues that is used.

Some restrictions apply. Confirmed vacations are not transferable. The customer purchasing the space-available voucher must check in to the resort and be at least 21 years old. Pets are not allowed at any resort location.

Cully said service members and civilians must be flexible with their requests. "You're not going to get Vail (Colorado) at Christmas," he said. "Generally what's available is off-season."

Participating resorts have different amenities. Typically, condos feature up to three bedrooms, a living room and fully equipped full or partial kitchens. Many units have laundry facilities or such amenities as whirlpool tubs or fireplaces. Guests have access to on-site or nearby facilities, such as beaches, golf courses, tennis courts, spas, ski slopes, fishing lakes, hiking paths, horseback riding, restaurants and shops. Many resorts also provide planned adult and children's activities.

RCI is a time-share company, but service members and DoD civilians have no obligation to sit through sales pitches or other presentations, Yount said.

For information on the program or to pick up a voucher, stop by your local MWR office. For information on what's available, point your mouse toward www.RCI.com. For information on where to obtain vouchers, e-mail Dan Yount at yountd@hoffman-cfsc.army.mil.

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