One of the most attractive benefits available to service members and their families is the use of military lodging facilities and resorts around the world. Most military members are familiar with the lodging facilities they visit on a temporary assignment, but military lodging can also mean cottages on the beach, world-class resorts or recreational facilities specifically for vacationing military families. Learning about these facilities can help you save money and provide a selection of safe and fun places to stay while you travel.
Military lodging facilities run the gamut from modern resorts to mountain cottages. There are limited-service hotels built specifically for families arriving at a new duty station as well as full-service recreational facilities. Here are the types of facilities you can expect to find:
- Installation lodging - These facilities are generally designed for service members traveling on official business or families with permanent change of station orders. Located mostly on military installations, these facilities will usually take vacationers on a space-available basis, but you may not be able to make advance reservations.
- Recreational facilities - Built to serve service members and their families for short or long getaways, these may range from a lodge on a mountain lake to an oceanfront cottage in Hawaii. Many recreational facilities offer rental equipment, fishing charters, tours or other services specific to the area, usually at an economical rate. Eligible personnel can make reservations, but availability varies from facility to facility.
- Resorts - With first-class amenities, these facilities offer a true resort experience. Military resorts are located in popular vacation destinations such as Disney World® and Hawaii, and in areas with a large military presence, such as Japan, Korea and Germany. You can usually make reservations, but timing is critical. If you plan to travel during peak periods, make your reservations as far in advance as possible. Rates are based on rank and duty status and are generally far lower than comparable civilian lodging.
- Nongovernment-owned hotels - Managed by organizations serving the military community, hotels such as the Marines' Memorial Club in San Francisco (800-562-7463) or the Soldiers', Sailors', Marines', Coast Guard and Airmen's Club in New York (800-678-8443) serve active duty and former service members. These clubs are not military lodging facilities but private nonprofit organizations.
How to use military lodging
Knowing the ins and outs of using military lodging is the key to saving money on your vacation. Reservation windows vary by facility and duty status, so do your research well in advance:
- Eligibility - Most military lodging is available to active duty service members and their families, retirees, Guard and reserve members, and Department of Defense civilians. However, rules vary by service branch and individual lodging facility. Your status (active duty on orders, active duty on leave, family member, retiree, reservist or DoD civilian) will usually determine when and how your reservations can be made.
- Vacation savings - Compare the costs of the military lodging options in the area you want to visit, find out if rooms are available or when reservations can be made, and check your eligibility. You'll often save money by using the restaurants, rentals, tours and other services available at the lodging facility.
- Reservations - In most cases, reservations should be made directly with the lodging facility. Each facility has its own reservation procedures. In many installation-lodging facilities, active duty military members on orders can reserve rooms in advance, while leisure travelers may rent rooms on a space-available basis only. Recreational facilities generally let leisure travelers make reservations far enough ahead to organize a vacation. Military resorts and Armed Forces Recreation Centers allow eligible guests to make reservations as much as a year in advance. See "Planning your getaway" below for contact information.
Military lodging around the world
The list of military lodging facilities is long and facilities vary widely. Here's just a sampling of what you can find around the world:
- East Coast - Shades of Green Resort, an AFRC located at Disney World® in Florida, offers reasonably priced rooms for service members. Guests enjoy easy access to Disney theme parks and all the perks that come with staying at a Disney resort. For more information, call 888-593-2242.The Coast Guard maintains a cabin on Cape Cod and another one on Nantucket, which are available to all active duty service members and their families, as well as reservists and retirees. Visit Coast Guard MWR Recreational Lodging. Fort Fisher Air Force Recreation Area, near Cape Fear, North Carolina, offers beach cottages and a lodge. Call 910-458-6549 for details.
- West Coast - Seward Resort in Alaska is open year-round with recreational activities for military families. Call 800-770-1858 for more information.The Marine Corps operates Big Bear Recreation Facility near ski resorts in Big Bear, California. Summer activities include mountain biking, hiking and fishing. Call 858-577-4126 for details.
- Central states - In Missouri, the Army manages Lake of the Ozarks Recreation Area, with lakefront cabins and motel rooms along with boat and Jet Ski rentals. For more details, call 573-346-5640.
- Hawaii - The Hale Koa Hotel, an AFRC on Waikiki Beach, is a favorite military resort destination. Because of its popularity, the Hale Koa is often filled to capacity, but reservations may be made up to 365 days in advance. Call 800-367-6027 for more information. By contrast, the Kilauea Military Camp, a Joint Services Recreation Center in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, is one of the military's best-kept secrets. Mountain cottages, along with local tours, are available. Call 808-967-7315.
- Europe - Edelweiss Lodge and Resort, an AFRC in Germany, serves military personnel with hotel rooms and cabins. Call (011-49) 8821-9440 from the United States.
- Asia - On Okinawa, Okuma Joint Services Recreation Center offers log cabins, hotel rooms and a campground. Two beautiful beaches, along with scuba diving, Jet Ski rentals, and kayak rentals are available. In Seoul, South Korea, the Dragon Hill Lodge is a world-class hotel with resort amenities and excellent shopping nearby. Dragon Hill Lodge is an AFRC too! You can also plan your vacation at the New Sanno Hotel, a Joint Services facility operated by the Navy in Tokyo, Japan.
Planning your getaway
You can research military lodging in the area you want to visit, including amenities and reservation policies:
- Do research to find the right military lodging facility. If you want more information or help researching your options, call Military OneSource and speak with one of our consultants at 800-342-9647.
- Use military lodging and service branch websites. Visit Army MWR, Marine Corps Community Services, Navy Lodges or Air Force Services.
- Find the best time to go. If you plan to visit a popular recreational facility or resort during peak vacation periods, make your reservations as soon as possible. Some lodging facilities prioritize reservations by branch of service, duty station or status.
- Take advantage of leisure services. Many facilities offer services such as restaurants, boat rentals, ski equipment rental, area tours and discount tickets to area attractions. Find out about available services and if reservations should be made in advance.