From 1 October 2023, US service members staying in army hotels during permanent change of station (PCS) moves will face higher out-of-pocket costs if they exceed their permitted temporary lodging expense (TLE) reimbursement days.

Troops whose lodging allowance expires will now pay approximately $35 more per night above their housing allowance.

This change comes as the 40 army post hotels and some joint bases across the US and Puerto Rico return to their pre-Covid rates, ending a discount period initiated in March 2020 due to the pandemic.

Hotels revert to pre-Covid rates

Army officials have announced that the special discounted rates introduced by IHG Army Hotels during the pandemic will end on 1 October. These rates, which have been in place since March 2020, were offered to support families undergoing PCS moves and facing housing challenges.

IHG Army Hotels, a collaboration between IHG Hotels & Resorts and Lendlease under Privatised Army Lodging, initially introduced the reduced rates voluntarily to aid families during the pandemic.

This programme was extended beyond its originally planned conclusion to assist military members and their families facing housing difficulties.

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Comparison of rates and implications for troops

The decision to end the discounted rate programme comes after a comparative analysis of rates.

Army officials compared Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) rates with the hotels’ PCS rates. On average, the daily BAH rate stood at around $60, while the average PCS room rate was approximately $95.

As a result, troops whose lodging allowance expires after their TLE period ends will now face an average additional cost of $35 per night out of their own pockets.

Challenges and emotions around the programme’s conclusion

Not all service members utilised the BAH rate for PCS stays.

Around 46% of the hotels’ PCS rooms were sold at the BAH rate, with a notable concentration at five locations: Joint Base Lewis McChord in Washington, Fort Cavazos, Fort Bliss and Fort Sam Houston in Texas, and Fort Stewart in Georgia.

While some individuals appreciated the programme’s benefits, others misconstrued the decision to conclude the discounted rate, labelling it as a result of corporate intentions.

However, the programme had been voluntary for IHG Army Hotels, and aimed at assisting military families during a challenging time.

In response to the discontinuation of the programme, IHG Hotels & Resorts officials explained that the company had introduced the discounted rate to support families during the pandemic and extended it beyond its initial timeframe to continue assisting those facing housing difficulties.

Given recent housing guidance from the Department of Defense and operational considerations, IHG Hotels & Resorts took the decision to conclude the programme at the end of the 2023 fiscal year.

The rates are reverting back to their normal levels after the peak PCS season ends and at a time when housing availability should improve.