SPARTANBURG, S.C. – Resting at the foot of the Zugspitze, Germany’s highest mountain, Edelweiss Lodge and Resort is a vacation destination for military personnel and their families. It’s also an excellent location for recent Wofford College graduates to get hands-on, real-world experience in the hospitality industry.

For the past two years, Wofford graduates have participated in a partnership with Edelweiss Lodge that allows them to spend 15 months at the site, working a variety of assignments to ensure a great experience for the families who book stays at the lodge.

For 2018 graduate Olivia Vasquez of John’s Creek, Georgia, the experience at Edelweiss Lodge helped her solidify her career goals. “My experiences abroad working at Edelweiss, on top of my study abroad experiences from Wofford, helped me secure my current job as a luxury travel agent,” she says. “Edelweiss not only gave me some of the coolest travel experiences of my life, but it put me into a community of people that I would have never met. Working alongside people of all ages who had such a passion to travel was one of the best parts of Edelweiss.”

Vasquez, who worked in the food and beverage area while at Edelweiss, says she was able to travel to 23 countries, including her first solo travel experience, while working there. “This experience really showed me that travel was something I wanted to incorporate into my life,” says Vasquez, who now is a travel administrator for Epperly Travel, a five-star specialty travel agency in Atlanta.

Living in a hotel room was fun, says Vasquez, who majored in government at Wofford. “Being able to live and work in the same environment is an experience like no other – especially living in a perfect little ski town that sits at the bottom of the tallest mountain in Germany. You can only imagine how beautiful the view was every day. As someone who has no connection to the military whatsoever, it also was cool to live on a military base and see what it’s like for those who serve overseas.

“The Edelweiss program is a perfect example of how Wofford helps build you as a person, even post-graduation,” says Vazquez, adding that she hopes to grow with her current company, and, ultimately, own her own travel agency. “I would not be where I am today if it weren’t for the opportunities I had at Wofford as well as the opportunities Wofford set in my path after graduation.”

“Edelweiss offers a great opportunity for Wofford graduates to work overseas, travel and learn about work in the real world,” says Curt McPhail, executive director of Wofford’s The Space in the Mungo Center professional development and entrepreneurial program. "The resort is owned by the U.S. Department of Defense, so resumes can say 'civilian employee of the DOD,' which is impressive.”

Wofford is one of a handful of college or universities with which Edelweiss partners. “Students learn work ethic; they learn about living abroad; and this is a very solid gap-year experience for them that they can take with them as they embark on their careers elsewhere,” McPhail adds.

Eight Wofford graduates have worked at Edelweiss:

  • Alex Lefebvre, class of 2018, accounting major from Spartanburg, S.C.
  • Taylor Reisz, class of 2018, philosophy major from Nashville, Tenn.
  • Olivia Vasquez, class of 2018, government major from John’s Creek, Ga.
  • Caroline Newlon, class of 2018, English major from Greenwood, S.C.
  • Alex King, class of 2019, psychology major from Orlando, Fla.
  • J.C. Price, class of 2019, history major from Spartanburg, S.C.
  • McLeod Dean, class of 2019, psychology major from Knoxville, Tenn.
  • Grant Page, class of 2019, history major from Spartanburg, S.C.

Located in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, considered one of the most desirable destinations in the Bavarian Alps, Edelweiss Lodge and Resort offers rooms, suites, vacation cabins and dog-friendly accommodations with beautiful mountain views. The Armed Forces Recreation Center provides rest, relaxation, recreation and sustainment to military personnel, their families and other members of the Total Defense Force. AFRC activities are operated by the U.S. Army through the Department of Defense.

Edelweiss Lodge and Resort is seeking other Wofford graduates to participate. A Skype information session with Edelweiss personnel will be held at 8 a.m. Thursday, Dec. 5, in The Space; students may register through Handshake or simply show up. Applications are due Feb. 6, 2020, via Handshake. Interviews will be held from 8 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. Feb. 13, 2020, in The Space.

For information, students may contact Curt McPhail at