‘Only in Chile’ contest could send you to South America to sip some wine

Chile truly is an amazing travel destination, offering snow capped peaks, beautiful coastlines, sprawling deserts, and so much more. Whether you’re looking to experience an unforgettable outdoor adventure or be spoiled at a luxury resort, the country can provide both options, and just about everything in between.

The diversity of travel options in the South American country is the basis of a new contest sponsored by The Wines of Chile Experience. Their “Only in Chile” photo competition invites travelers to submit an album of images to the organization’s Facebook page, and then rally their friends and family to vote for the submission. The person who garners the most votes will be swept off to Chile for a wine-themed adventure of their choice.

All submissions must fall into one of five themes, which include: For the Love of Chile; Wine & Stars; Urban Wine Retreat; Harvest Holiday or Horses & Huasos. All entries must include five photos to their gallery that adhere to these themes. The contest, which is open to U.S. residents only, runs through November 5th, with a winner being announced on November 14th.

That lucky winner will receive airfare for two to Chile, five nights stay in a hotel, food and beverages, wine tours, and other activities based on the theme of their choice. The total prize package is valued at roughly $15,000.

As of this writing, there are only five entries listed on the contest’s Facebook page. (View the competition here!) That means, with just over two weeks to go in the contest, anyone can still win this fantastic prize. I was fortunate enough to visit Chile earlier this year, and had an amazing time. It truly is one of my favorite travel destinations and this is a great opportunity to explore the country for yourself.

Just remember, it includes airfare for two. When you win this contest, don’t forget who tipped you off to it.

Winners of the “Ultimate Mountain Gig” contest announced

The Canyons ski resort announced the winners of their Ultimate Mountain Gig contest earlier this week, selecting not one, but two, applicants to fill the role as their official ambassadors for the remainder of the 2011 ski season. The contest, which was announced last September, gave skiers and snowboarders an opportunity to compete for a job that offered $40k in salary, a full season ski pass, plenty of gear, and room and board at the Waldorf Astoria that is located on site at the Park City, Utah resort.

The co-winners of the Ultimate Mountain Gig are former Olympic ski racer Kaylin Richardson and ex-British soldier Andy Campbell. Richardson has been a member of the U.S. ski team for ten years and has won four Alpine National Championships and competed in two Olympic games. Campbell served his country in a variety of locations, including Iraq, but was paralyzed from the waist down in a climbing accident in 2004. That hasn’t slowed him down one bit however, as he still scuba dives, skis and paraglides all over the world.

Campbell and Richardson were selected for the gig from a pool of 450 applicants. The pair have already gone to work for The Canyons, writing about their experience at the Ultimate Mountain Gig website. Over the next four months or so, they’ll be helping to promote the resort by writing blog posts and producing video diaries about their experiences. I’m sure they’ll also find plenty of time to hit the slopes and interact with the guests too.

[Photo credit: The Canyons]

Blog Your Way To The North Pole

Travelers with an adventurous side have a great opportunity to score the trip of a lifetime thanks to a new contest from Quark Expeditions, who invite you to Blog Your Way To The North Pole. The contest, which runs until February 15th, 2011, will award one lucky winner a trip for two to the top of the world that is valued at more than $54,000.

Much like Quark’s Blog Your Way To Antarctica contest, which ran last year, contestants are asked to write a short (200-400 word) blog entry explaining why they are the perfect person to be named Quark’s Official Blogger to the North Pole. Entrants are also asked to include interesting travel experiences or places that they’ve been to in the past, as well as a recent photo. Once your blog post has been put on the contest website it will be available for others to read, comment and vote on. Those votes will be a crucial element to winning the contest, as they will help narrow the entries down to five finalists in February. After the deadline for the contest has passed, a panel of judges consisting of a professional travel blogger, Quark’s President, a member of Quark’s Expedition team and a member of the Marketing team, will select the winner from those five finalists to go on the trip.

And what a trip it will be. In June of 2011, the winning blogger, along with their guest, will be flown to Europe for an evening in Helsinki, Finland. From there, it’s on to Murmansk, Russia, where they’ll board the Russian ice-breaker 50 Years of Victory to begin their voyage to the North Pole. That journey can take anywhere from 4 to 8 days depending on the condition of the pack ice, and upon reaching the North Pole itself, they’ll disembark from the ship for a champagne toast and lunch on the ice cap. On the return voyage to port, the ship will swing by Franz Josef Land, a very remote and uninhabited island that is home to polar bears and walruses.

So, if this sounds like your kind of adventure, head on over to the contest website and fill out your entry. Then fire up your Twitter and Facebook accounts, call your friends and family, and start rallying the troops to get the vote out. Who knows, perhaps next summer you’ll be taking an adventurous cruise to the top of the world.

Five steps to free Mexico and Caribbean travel from Marriott and Renaissance

Need a little sunshine in your life this holiday season but can’t get out on the road? Hey, I get it: we all shell out enough cash this time of year. There are gifts for the kids, unavoidable family travel and those Christmas dinners that get expensive pretty quickly. These costs can sneak up on you, depriving you of a little mental health time out on a beach somewhere.

Well, a travel contest hit my inbox today that can make the whole situation much easier for you to deal with.

How does the Marriott and Renaissance brand sound, especially down in the Caribbean or in Mexico? Yeah, I figured that would get your attention! Marriott and Renaissance Caribbean & Mexico Resorts and online travel agency CheapOair are kicking off a “12 Days of Travel” holiday sweepstakes that could leave you sprawled out on the sand under the warm sun this winter, while the neighbors and family are breaking their backs with shovels full of snow.

Okay, this is a social media contest, so it helps to have Twitter and Facebook open frequently during the contest, which kicks off Wednesday, December 1, 2010 and ends Monday, December 13, 2010 (12 days … get it?). There are five steps you’ll need to follow:1. Start by following @CheapOair and @MarriottResorts on Twitter. If you aren’t among the 175 million people on Twitter, now’s the time to get on board!

2. On each of the 12 days of the contest, check out the CheapOair contest page for the day’s tweet (a designated phrase): you’ll need to use this.

3. Head over to Twitter and unleash the tweet of the day. Remember that this is your entry in the contest, and you can only do so once a day.

4. Be (a little) patient … there will be a winner announced every day, with the grand prize coming on the last day.

5. Get more chances to win by visiting the Marriott and Renaissance Caribbean & Mexico Resorts Facebook page and following the bouncing ball: “like” Paradise by Marriott and CheapOair on Facebook, post a comment during the “12 days” period on the CheapOair blog saying which of the nine resorts you want to visit and why and then cross your fingers for the win!

What’s up for grabs? Take a look at the day-by-day prizes below!

Day 1: Three-night stay at the Aruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino*
Day 2: Three-night stay at the Curacao Marriott Beach Resort & Emerald Casino*
Day 3: Three-night stay at the CasaMagna Marriott Cancun Resort*
Day 4: CheapOair $75 gift certificate
Day 5: CheapOair $75 gift certificate
Day 6: Three-night stay at the Frenchman’s Reef & Morning Star Marriott Beach Resort*
Day 7: Three-night stay at the CasaMagna Marriott Puerto Vallarta Resort & Spa*
Day 8: Three-night stay at the St Kitts Marriott Resort & The Royal Beach Casino*
Day 9: Three-night stay at the Renaissance Aruba Resort & Casino*
Day 10: Three-night stay at the JW Marriott Cancun Resort & Spa*
Day 11: CheapOair $75 gift certificate
Day 12/Grand Prize: Three-night stay at the Grand Cayman Marriott Beach Resort and roundtrip airfare for two

*Each hotel giveaway will also include a $25 gift certificate from CheapOair

[photo by gerriet via Flickr]

Win a surf vacation to Byron Bay, Australia

Have you ever wanted to visit Australia? How about learn to surf? If you said yes to either one, or both, of those questions, then we’ve got just the contest for you. Tourism New South Wales is sponsoring a contest in which one lucky winner, and their guest, will be whisked off to Australia for five days of fun and sun on the lovely beaches of Byron Bay. Once there, they’ll learn how to surf and go kayaking with dolphins, while enjoying the famous Aussie hospitality.

To enter the contest, simply click here and fill out the form, which includes a short survey with a couple of travel related questions. From there, you’ll sit back and wait for the contest to end on November 30th. If you’re picked as the winner, you’ll get round trip airfare from Los Angeles to Brisbane courtesy of V Australia, five nights stay at the luxurious Byron at Byron Resort, surfing lessons from Mojo Surf, and much more.

But if you’re not lucky enough to win the contest, you may just want to take a trip to Byron Bay anyway. After all, it is one of the best beach destinations around. To plan and book your own Australian adventure, check out Springboard Vacations where you’ll find a host of options for visiting Oz. For example, their Ultimate Spa Package includes 10 days of pampering at some of the best resorts down under, while their Learn to Surf Package gives you everything you need for a six day aquatic adventure, including two free surf lessons and a bike tour of Sydney.

Between the sweepstakes and these great package deals, you don’t have any excuse to not visit Byron Bay soon.