Army opens new military-only resort in Va.
By Michael Felberbaum - The Associated Press
Posted : Monday May 7, 2007 22:22:03 EDT

RICHMOND, Virginia — The military is adding Virginia’s oceanfront to such destinations as Hawaii and Germany where servicemembers and their families can get some affordable rest and relaxation.

The Armed Forces Recreation Center in Virginia Beach joins other locations in Orlando, Florida, Germany, Hawaii and South Korea that have been serving military families and civilians who work for the U.S. Department of Defense since 1946.

Adding the new resort is part of the adaptation to an “increasingly continental United States based” military that is bringing back significant numbers of soldiers from Germany and Korea, said Rich Gorman, chief operating officer of the command based near Washington.

The Army Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation Command assumed responsibility of a 93-room set of cabins and bungalows in April, but plans to expand the property over the next two years with additional rooms and conference facilities. Feet from the Atlantic Ocean and Chesapeake Bay, the Virginia Beach resort called Cape Henry Inn has been open for about 12 years under local management.

“The reason for operating these places was for rest and recuperation for war-weary soldiers and that really continues to be the focus today,” Gorman said.

Each year, about 750,000 people visit the resorts, officials said. The resorts are open to active-duty and retired military, current and retired Department of Defense civilians, reservists, delayed entry recruits and family members.

Each of the resorts features gourmet restaurants, guest services, pool and fitness centers.

The first resorts were opened in Germany in December 1945. Forces mostly from the 101st Airborne confiscated hotels that were then used for military rest and recreation.

In 1995, the privately owned hotels were returned. A new facility in the Bavarian Alps called the Edelweiss Lodge and Resort opened in 2004.

The program’s other resorts include the Hale Koa Hotel, which was built in Honolulu in 1975; Orlando’s Shades of Green, which opened in the mid-1990s; and Dragon Hill Lodge in Seoul, South Korea.