Colorado offers free 3-month trip to “snow virgins”

My four-year old niece, who lives in Florida, once detailed for me all the places she’d been in the world. “I have been everywhere,” she said. “I have even been to snow!” (For the record, that means she has been to Michigan). If you aren’t as “well-traveled” as my niece and haven’t yet experienced the icy wonder of snow, Colorado wants to hear from you.

Colorado is looking for “snow virgins”, people who have never been in an area with extensive snowfall (entrants may be subjected to a background check) to enter its “Snow at First Sight” contest. Contestants must be at least 21 years old and residents of the US. To enter, they’ll need to submit a 60 second video explaining why they should be chosen to win a 3-month trip to Colorado to experience their first snowfall.

Entrants need to get their friends and family to vote on their video – finalists will be chosen according to popularity and creativity. Ten finalists will then go to Colorado for the official audition.

So what does the winner get, other than the chance to make their first snow angels and snowmen? They’ll receive a free trip to Colorado for three months (January 1 through March 31, 2010), an $800 stipend for each month, and attendance at promotional events arranged by the sponsors. They’ll get to take part in winter activities like skiing, snowboarding, and dog-sledding and will get to blog all about their adventures in Colorado’s winter wonderland.

Holiday Inn opens NYC hotel made entirely of key cards

As part of an effort to build buzz around the relaunch of 1200 Holiday Inn hotels this month, the lodging chain has opened a very special hotel in New York. It’s not your average hotel though. It’s made entirely of hotel key cards.

The “Key Card Hotel” was built by Guinness World Record holder Byran Berg, who first broke the record for “World’s Tallest House of Freestanding Playing Cards” in 1992 at the tender age of 17. Since then, he’s broken the record 10 times. Now he’s created a life-size (though small at 400 square feet) hotel made of key cards. Visitors can’t actually stay in the “hotel” (and would you really want to sleep on a bed of plastic?), but they can come marvel at Berg’s creation, which is made of 200,000 cards and weighs two tons, tour the lobby, guest room, and bathroom, and learn about the Holiday Inn’s “Keys to Change” promotion and the many improvements that will be taking place at the brand’s properties. By the end of 2010, over 3000 hotels in the chain will be updated, at a cost of $1 billion, making it the “largest relaunch in the history of the hospitality industry”.

As part of the promotion, guests can enter to win free nights at one of the relaunched Holiday Inn or Holiday Inn Express locations around the world. One grand prize winner will also receive a 3-day, 2-night trip to any Holiday Inn hotel in the world, including round-trip air transportation. To enter, just sign up on the promotion’s website.

The Key Card Hotel will be open at New York’s South Street Seaport from now until September 21. During the promotion, Berg will also create a 9-foot tall replica of the Statue of Liberty using playing cards in the lobby. The online contest runs until October 22nd.

Twitter to win free MatadorU tuition

Last month, Brenda announced the Matador Network’s new travel writing curriculum, Matador U. The 12-week course is geared towards travel writers at all levels in their careers, from those who are just dreaming of a getting their first piece published to writers with years of experience.

The course covers topics like crafting the perfect pitch letter, using social media to promote your work, honing your voice, working with editors and going on press trips. Students also have access to exclusive market leads and forums where they can discuss what they are learning with other students. I’m on week two of the class and finding it to be very helpful and motivating.

The course isn’t cheap at $225 (for the first 100 students, then it goes up to $350) but if you can’t quite afford it, you may still be able to participate. Every month, Matador will award free tuition to one of its Twitter followers. The rules are simple. Just follow @MatadorNetwork and send them a tweet saying you want to win free tuition. If you are selected, they’ll contact you with details on how to register for the course free of charge. If you’ve ever considered a career as a travel writer, or if you are already getting published and want to move to the next level, here’s your chance to take the course for free.

Enter to win a “cuisinternship” in Oregon

Ever wondered what it’s like to be a winemaker, brewmaster, or cheesemaker? How about a rancher, chocolate maker, fisherman(or woman), or a liquor distiller? Here’s your chance to find out. Seven lucky winners will be given the opportunity to apprentice in their chosen professions, helping out with all the duties of the job and learning the ropes from the pros.

The Oregon Bounty Cuisinternship contest runs until September 18 and aims to highlight the variety and quality of food and drink produced locally. The internships take place around the state, covering the Pacific coast, Willamette Valley, Mt. Hood, Eastern Oregon and Portland. The brewing intern will be mixing barley and hops at Full Sail Brewing and the apprentice chef will be prepping dishes at Le Pigeon Restaurant. Each apprentice will receive airfare from his or her home city to Portland, six nights of lodging, a five day apprenticeship, and $1000 cash to cover meals and other expenses.

To enter, compose a 140-character statement on why you should be chosen for the apprenticeship, along with a two-minute video explaining why you are the best person for the job. You can submit one entry per category, but you can apply for as many categories as you wish. Entries must be received by September 18 and the winners will be announced on September 30.

Win a 5-night package at Chaa Creek luxury eco-resort in Belize

Chaa Creek, an eco-resort in the jungle of Belize, is giving away a 5-night stay for two to the winner of their Nature Quest Sweepstakes. To enter, you’ll need to write a 300-word essay on why you want to visit the lodge, and answer a series of questions about the property (the answers to which can all be found on the website). If you score 85% or above, you’ll be eligible to win the 5-night Inland Expedition package.

There are four additional prizes as well, which include a 5-night Inland Expedition package for one, or 50%, 40% and 30% discounts on 5-night Inland Expedition packages for two. The packages include round-trip transfers to the lodge from Belize City, a trip to the Belize zoo, all meals, and several tours and activities including bird-watching, canoeing, a trip to a butterfly farm and more.

The resort is set on a 365-acre nature reserve, has been operating since 1981, and has won numerous awards for its quality service and commitment to the environment. The 5-night Inland Expedition packages normally cost $1625 per person. Entries for the contest are due by October 30.