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Contest Watch: $15K Nantucket Vaca, Kenya, Los Cabos, More

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Skyrocketing temperatures might have melted some travel companies’ brains! They’re giving away a $15,000 Nantucket vacation, a six-month trip around the world; a six-month New York City hotel stay and $5,000 in cash, plus oodles more. This Contest Watch is all about thinking B-I-G.

“Flip Out on Nantucket”, Nantucket Island Resorts, Nantucket, MA
Now – September 6, 2010
Need a reason to take a Nantucket vacation? How does a $15,000 getaway sound? This summer, Nantucket visitors who make a 1-minute video montage about their trip and submit it to www.nuntucketislandresorts.com/flip-out-nantucket-submission.php or email nantucketvideos@gmail.com might just win the return-trip of a lifetime. Video submissions will be reviewed by a panel of judges with the finalists put up to a public vote.  The ultimate Nantucket itinerary includes a five-night stay at any Nantucket Island Resort property (including T+L favorites The Wauwinet and the White Elephant), dinner for two at Brant Point Grill and Topper’s, two hour-long massages at both the White Elephant and the Spa by the Sea, Nantucket Harbor Cruise, and more. Flip out indeed.

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Summer School: Become a BBQ Judge

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Summer: the season of corn on the cob, fresh dripping watermelon, beach bonfires, and all-important barbecue. No matter what style of BBQ you prefer (Texas at the Salt Lick, North Carolina at The Pit (pictured)), now you have the opportunity to foist your brisket preferences on others.

The Kansas City Barbecue Society offers laymen like you and me courses and certifications to judge professional barbecue competitions. The society hosts 300 contests across America and has confirmed a veritable army of licensed connoisseurs. These competitions aren't small potatoes either - the state championship in Washington, DC on June 26th boasts a grand prize of $20,500.

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Wimco Announces 48-Hour Villa Sale

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Everyone loves a bargain, and these days, it seems like there’s a smart way to score all kinds of high-end goods—even travel. (Oh, by the way, have you seen Vacationist?)

Luxury villa rental agency, Wimco, is having a 48-hour villa sale featuring properties in Tuscany and Mykonos. From 10 am Wednesday, June 26th to 10 am May 28th, savvy travelers can find deals between 20–50% off low season pricing.

To book, visit wimco.com and do it quickly for goodness’ sake!

Charlotte Savino is the online listings editor at Travel + Leisure.

Photo courtesy of Wimco.

Hotel Buzzz: Apiaries are the Bee’s Knees

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Recently I went to a Toronto tourism event that featured a honey tasting. My favorite nectar—a luscious caramel-brown with herby mint notes—belonged to the Fairmont Royal York’s 14-story-high rooftop hives (called the Honey Moon Suite), and is served to guests at tea service and in specialty cocktails. The mint flavor (someone snootily insisted it was a hint of “eucalyptus”) comes from the rooftop garden’s herb plots, where the bar gleans much of their greenery for muddled mojitos and caipirinhas.

The apiary is a cross-brand initiative with hives already set up at the Fairmont Algonquin in St. Andrews and the Fairmont Waterfront in Vancouver with more on the way.

Honey—golden, sticky, amber goodness—turns bitter and looses nutrients during pasteurization. Hotels looking for an eco-luxe draw are turning to the home-grown raw stuff like, well, bees to honey.

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Buy A Volvo, Get a Free Vacation!

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Impulse buyers rejoice! Swedish car company-turned-Ford-subsidiary, Volvo, is offering a heavily discounted trip to Sweden with a purchase of a new car (just in case you were contemplating one).

The package, which is part of Volvo's Overseas Delivery Program, includes two roundtrip tickets from major U.S. gateways on Scandanavian Airlines to Gothenburg, located on Sweden's west coast (right now, economy tickets are going for $1,100–$1,800!) and a free hotel night at the SAS Raddisson Blue Scandinavia Hotel. And, if you take a drive to, say, Oslo or another major European city, your outbound tickets will still be honored. You’ll have to book through a pre-approved travel agency (call tel. number below) to receive the free travel in addition to discounts on supplementary excursions and hotel stays.

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Contest Watch: National Train Week, Carbon-Neutral Nuptials, More

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Saturday is National Train Day and what better way to celebrate than to win some free train travel? Not in the mood to get on board—then jet away with your betrothed for a eco-friendly destination wedding in the Cook Islands. And, if you’ve already done the love and marriage thing, the least you can do is get some peace and quiet by sending your teen off to Oxford for the summer. There’s something for everyone in this edition of ContestWatch.

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No Taxation Without a Vacation: Tax-Day Hotel Deals

After spending over an hour on hold waiting for help from the IRS last night, boy could I use a break. Luckily these four hotels are cashing in on tax-season deals (and puns!).

201004-b-tax-istockjpgThe Kimpton Hotel Group (like T+L favorite Kimpton Palomar Hotel) is offering a Sweet Tax Relief package: The hotel will waive the hotel and restaurant taxes for stays through April 30th. The Hard Rock San Diego has an EFFEN! Taxes package—also expiring April 30th—that not only waives hotel and restaurant fees but also includes an EFFEN! Brand Vodka cocktail (get it?).

Also in the tax-pun-vein, the Trump International Miami is offering a 1040EZ deal through May 30th which features three nights and two massages for $1,040. Lastly, you can save some green at the eco-friendly San Francisco Orchard Hotel group (Orchard Hotel and Orchard Garden Hotel) with their own version of the 1040EZ deal: book by April 15th for a $10.40 discount on hotel rates. Now, if only you could figure out how to write these stays off as a business expense?

Charlotte Savino is the online listings editor at Travel + Leisure.

Photo credit: iStock

Contest Watch: Blockbuster Movie Means Blockbuster Giveaways

In this super-sized edition of T+L Contest Watch, we’ve scoured the globe to find mega-awesome 3-D Imax-scale sweepstakes. Hurry, these are leaving theaters soon.

20104-b-greekislands-istockjpgClash of the Titans Sweepstakes,” Greek Islands (ends April 19th)
In celebration of the new 3-D movie, Clash of the Titans, Fandango, Variety Cruises, Warner Brothers, and Greek National Tourism have teamed up to give away a 7-night/8-day Greek Island cruise. Visit www.discovergreecenow.com to enter—seems simple but those who chose to receive more direct-to-consumer mail get more entries into the grand prize drawing (just keep that in mind). Losers can take comfort in co-stars Liam Neeson and Ralph Fines in 3-D.

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Watch It: New Watch Line Celebrates W Hotel Openings

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Ever leave your watch at home because it’s too nice to travel with? Afraid to get water on your Rolex while lounging poolside? Well, New York–based design firm, Nooka has teamed up with W Hotels to put out a line of three super-cool rubbery watches that can take a travel licking and keep on ticking.

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Spring Sightseeing: Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, D.C.

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The annual National Cherry Blossom Festival, held in the historic tidal basin in Washington D.C., began last Saturday, March 27th and will continue through April 11th. The festival celebrates the cherry trees that were a gift from Tokyo in 1912 and attracts thousands of visitors each year.

Given the harsh winter weather that hit the area in the past few months, buds are just beginning to peek out on the capitol's battered (and recently groomed) trees. The jubilant pink flowers should be in full picturesque bloom April 4th, just in time for Easter visitors.

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