DoD Civilians, Military Qualify for Vacation Club
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Jul. 1, 2002 Service members and DoD civilians are eligible to rent condominiums in certain resorts around the world as part of a vacation club arrangement between the Army and a civilian corporation.
Army Morale, Welfare and Recreation arranged with Cendant Corp. and one of its subsidiaries, Resort Condominiums International, to offer the condos at reduced rates to active and reserve service members, military retirees, DoD civilians, and any other persons eligible to use military morale, welfare and recreation services.
The deal offers condominium unit rentals for $234 per week at selected resorts. The normal rates are $600 to $1,500 per week in season, according to Verlin Abbott, Cendant national vice president for DoD and government marketing.
"I have gotten phones calls from scores of individual MWR offices talking about how great the program is received e-mails from hundreds of places around the country from active duty soldiers, retired military and DoD civilians, asking how to sign up," said Dan Yount, chief of Army leisure travel services. "The program has generated a lot of positive 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 cost me $1,000-plus. So $234 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."
More than 327 military bases currently take part in the program, which started as a test project with 18 Washington, D.C.-area military installations in November 1998. The program expanded nationwide in August 1999. Military officials recently began to promote the program overseas to take advantage of the many condominium resorts outside the United States, MWR representatives said.
Cendant/RCI manages more than 3,700 time-share resorts worldwide. The discount arrangement is possible because not all resort units are used by owners or rented all the time. The company must pay upkeep costs, but receives no revenue while units are vacant.
Cendant's Abbott, a retired Army officer, said the condo rentals are made available at near-cost to military members and DoD civilians. "This way, we're able to cover expenses and the service member is getting a fun, inexpensive vacation," he said.
In the arrangement between the Army and RCI, the vacationer can get information about the Armed Forces Vacation Club from any MWR Information, Tickets and Reservation office or Information, Tickets and Tours office, or they can get information and book reservations either online or via a toll-free telephone reservation center.
Access to club information is available by visiting the Army's "Great Travel Deals" Web site at www.armymwr.com/portal/travel/traveldeals and clicking on the Armed Forces Vacation Club logo.
In navigating the club Web site, visitors will find a list of available units and dates among the thousands of participating resort for booking, all for $234 for seven nights. Service members or civilians can reserve a condo using a major credit card. The MWR office receives $22 for every reservation booked.
Some restrictions apply. Confirmed vacations are not transferable. The customer purchasing the space-available voucher must check in at the resort and be at least 21 years old. Pets are not allowed at any location.
Abbott 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 or on relatively short notice." In fact, most vacancies aren't posted until 14 to 21 days before the scheduled date of arrival, he said.
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 exchange company, but service members and DoD civilians have no obligation to sit through sales pitches or other presentations, Yount said.
For more information on the club program and other discount travel packages and specials, check with installation MWR ITR or ITT offices, or visit www.armymwr.com/portal/travel/travelresources.