‘Operation Freedom Lodging’ a sell out | VailDaily.com

‘Operation Freedom Lodging’ a sell out

Kim Marquis

They went like the proverbial hot cakes.

Vail Resorts booked 1,800 nights of free lodging in just six days when it announced a program for active-duty soldiers returning from overseas service.

Dubbed “Operation Freedom Lodging,” the company started taking reservations April 1 for up to three consecutive nights of complimentary lodging offered to soldiers from any branch of the military who served on active duty for more than 30 days in Iraq or Afghanistan.

The program was originally set up for 1,000 free nights of lodging, but by April 8, nearly double that number had been booked, and the company stopped taking reservation requests sent after 4 p.m. on April 6.

The program applies to the company’s Breckenridge and Keystone hotels. Service men and women and their families are already arriving in Summit County to enjoy the program’s benefits.

Toni Piringer, company vice president of hospitality, received hundreds of thank-you notes via e-mail from soldiers and even those who did not qualify for the program, thanking the company for extending the offer.

“They wanted us to know how much they appreciated our gesture,” Piringer said. “The response was more than we anticipated. It happened so quickly that people were (contacting) us on laptops from Iraq and Afghanistan trying to make arrangements.”

Piringer, who created the program, said he wanted to show the troops that the company and community appreciate their service.

“What a wonderful experience it must be for those folks living for a year over there with limited facilities and in imminent danger to come here and enjoy the things we take for granted every day – wonderful scenery, clean air,” he said.

Since November 2001, Keystone Resort has hosted the U.S. military through the Rocky Mountain Blue strategic alliance, offering discounts on lodging, recreation and conference gatherings to all branches of the military and Department of Defense employees.

Keystone entered the long-term partnership to provide affordable year-round resort vacations in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains to the military community.

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