By Lizann Lightfoot
Did you know that the DoD owns and operates five exotic resorts that are only open to military families?
Armed Forces Recreation Centers are sometimes called “DoD resorts” because they are luxury hotels and resorts operated by the DoD and only available for booking by eligible military families. There are currently five of these accommodations. All of them are unique, gorgeous resorts in exotic locations popular with military families. Especially if you are stationed OCONUS, some of these resorts are an affordable option for a military family vacation.
Here are the five DoD resorts that are only open to the military
Shades of Green in Disney World in central Florida is the only military-owned resort located in the continental US. The resort is walking distance from two major golf courses and provides transportation to all Disney theme parks in the area, as well as Universal Studios and Sea World. The resort is family-friendly, with tons of children’s activities, princess makeovers at the spa, and an extra Magic Hour at the Disney parks. Shades of Green also offers wedding packages for military families.
Edelweiss Lodge and Resort in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany offers gorgeous views of the Bavarian Alps. From the resort, you can hike into the mountains, enjoy local sledding and skiing, stroll into the local town for a beer tasting, or travel to the nearby Neuschwanstein Castle–a popular tourist destination. The resort is ideally situated to visit towns in either Germany or Austria.
Hale Koa Hotel is in Waikiki Beach, Hawaii. This gorgeous resort includes 72 acres of tropical paradise. The hotel was built and is still maintained by veterans and military families. Since it is only 10 miles from the Honolulu Airport, you can be on the beach, enjoying surfing and paddle-boarding adventures in no time.
Dragon Hill Lodge in Seoul, South Korea is a luxurious resort that offers style and comfort with special packages for military families and retirees. A vacation here lets you experience both the modern and the historic elements of Seoul. You can go shopping, see a show, or enjoy an evening river cruise. The next day, you could tour an ancient village or visit the historic castle and gardens. You could even visit the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea.
New Sanno Hotel in downtown Tokyo, Japan is operated by the US Navy. The resort includes unique dining and fitness opportunities, as well as a Navy Exchange (NEX) that provides excellent deals on Japanese souvenirs. The on-site APO post office will package gifts for service member families and mail them to APO addresses overseas. The New Sanno Hotel offers creative wedding options to military couples as well.
What you need to know about DoD resorts
Only military families are eligible. At most locations, this includes active duty, veterans, retirees, National Guard, and Reserve families. Some locations also allow reservations from DoD civilians. The military member must confirm eligibility when booking the reservation. Each military person can bring a certain amount of family members or guests but cannot book more than one room unless the spouse is also military.
Prices depend on the service member’s rank. The DoD resorts offer a three-tiered pricing system based on rank. Tier 1 is for E-1 to E-6 and is the most affordable. Tier 2 is E-7 to O-3. The third tier is for W-4 to O-10, and can include DoD civilians. There are separate prices listed for a service member who is traveling on PCS or TDY orders. These prices are higher than the other tiers.
Reservations are in high demand. Because these resorts are in prime tourist locations near military bases, they are popular with military families, especially during American holiday weekends like Memorial Day, the Fourth of July, Labor Day, and Thanksgiving. Reservations open three months ahead of time so be sure to confirm your leave dates and book as soon as possible.
The resorts offer numerous amenities. Whatever you are looking for in a vacation, start your search at the resort website or the hotel concierge desk. Each location has several fine restaurants on site, along with swimming pools and spas. Some sites offer unique celebrations for American holidays. These DoD resorts offer discount tickets and special packages for local activities. The hotel can be your best launch point into experiencing local culture, so take advantage of excursions and on-site events.
Lizann Lightfoot is an associate editor at Military One Click and a Marine Corps spouse. She can be reached at email@example.com.