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Contest Watch: Holiday Edition

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Tis the season for toys and presents, but what about getting your 2010 travel calendar in line? These three contests might make for one heck of a New Year.

Ultimate Fiji Adventurer
Now – January 1st
Make your New Year’s resolution to be more adventurous. Tourism Fiji has launched a video contest to give away a pair of roundtrip tickets to Fiji on Air Pacific (from Los Angeles) and seven nights—with meals—at Sonaisali Island Resort. Contestants must submit a 2-3 minute video explaining why they are an Ultimate Fiji Adventurer at www.fijime.tv/videocontest. After entries close on January 1st, it’s up to the public to vote on their favorite submission. We could not confirm at publilcation time, but contestants shoudle expect to pay taxes and fees.

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Hot Hotel Deals and More in Beverly Hills

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Beverly Hills, 90210 may remind you of all sorts of things: Rodeo Drive, Bentleys, even a recently-reinterpreted television show on the CW. What likely doesn’t come to mind are hotel deals, which is what all the buzz was about during my recent visit.

The Thompson Beverly Hills on the corner of Wilshire and Crescent, brings Stephen Brandman’s chic-and-shiny aesthetic to LA. The hotel is home to the West Coast’s only BondSt sushi outpost, has a rooftop pool with panoramic views, and easy access to the shops on South Beverly. Rooms are sexy, with beds dressed in Frette linens. And the rate? A wallet-friendly $199/per night.

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Bing Travel to Pay Thanksgiving Baggage Fees for 1,000 Passengers

Planning on braving the airport tomorrow? Sure, the day before Thanksgiving is hands down the busiest travel day of the year and yes, there's not a shadow of a doubt that your airport will be more calamitous than usual. But Bing Travel just may be able to help make your holiday travels a little bit more bearable.

Bing Travel Fareologists will be staked out at the Boston and Seattle airports tomorrow. Travelers with questions can get expert advice on how to travel during this über stressful time of the year. To boot, 1,000 travelers will be randomly selected to be reimbursed for their baggage fees (up to $15).

For more information about tomorrow's giveaway, visit www.bing.com/travel or follow them on Twitter: @Fareologist.

Joshua Pramis is an online associate editor for Travel + Leisure.

No Escape From Work Emails: 47 Airports Get Free Holiday WiFi

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Everyone has a Thanksgiving travel horror story, don’t they? Heading “over the river and through the woods” takes longer and involves more encounters with the surly and stressed hoi polloi than it did when we traveled by sleigh with lap blankets.

Google has granted travelers a respite from watching people freak out in airports during our holiday layovers en route to grandmother’s house. The benevolent search-master is footing the bill for free WiFi in 47 U.S. airports around the country between now and January 15.

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Denmark Full of Shiny, Happy People

200910-b-christian-alsing3jpg The Danes have come up with an unusual way to lure travelers to their country. They’re very happy, and if you visit, it might rub off on you! (And save you some money.)

The claim of joyfulness is based on scientific surveys, not merely on, say, an interview with a Copenhagen resident after a few glasses of schnapps on a Friday evening. In one recent research endeavor—the World Values Survey, the work of a global network of social scientists—Denmark came out on top when it comes to the happiness of its residents.

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Contest Watch: Win a Cali Hotel Stay, Luxury Cruise, Sydney Trip, and More!

Excuse my flurry of posts but there has been a huge surge of late-breaking contests that I just had to share. All you need to do is enter:

200910-b-hotelbelamarjpgLarkspur Hotels "I Need a Vacation Because!" Contest (closes Nov. 17)

Facebook fans of the Larkspur Hotels page can enter to win a two-night getaway to one of the Larkspur Collections’ eight hotels (one winner per hotel) in California and Oregon. Contestants must post why they need a vacation in 50 words or less. Entries will be judged on originality, creativity, humor, and substance, and from what I’ve seen on the Facebook page, TravelandLeisure.com’s savvy and creative readers have a pretty good shot. The prize includes $150 voucher for Southwest Airlines and a $100 to the hotel restaurant. Winners do not have to cover taxes or fees. Visit www.facebook.com/larkspurhotels to enter.

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St. Lucia on Sale

stonefield.jpg Just in time for Caribbean travel season, JetBlue today kicked off service between New York’s JFK and St. Lucia. We’re big fans of the blue airline, so it’s exciting to see their destinations expanding. It’s even more exciting to see the kickoff deal: only $129 each way. Sure, there are strings attached: you have to act fast (book by this Friday) and travel between November 2 and February 8, 2010 (yeah, Valentine’s Day is going to cost more).

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Virgin America's Awesome New Sundries Bag + $100 Cross-Country Fares!

200910-b-virginjpg I already know that Virgin America is a favorite airline of our readers—it scored No. 1 in the domestic airline category of T+L’s 2009 World’s Best Awards—but I’m happy to report that Richard Branson’s company is continuing to impress with new deals and fun in-flight amenities.

Here's a selection of some of its latest low fares:

$109 one-way from San Francisco to Virgin’s newest destination, Ft. Lauderdale
$100 one-way from Los Angeles to Boston
$40 one-way from San Diego to San Francisco (cheaper than a tank of gas!)

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Fall Golf Deals: Florida and Mexico Packages Expiring Soon!

200910-b-golf-lucy-schaefferjpg I love golf! More importantly, I love a great golf deal. So it pains me to have to leave some of our best deals by the wayside as booking dates near and expirations loom. From sunny Mexico to (uh, also sunny?) Florida, I’ve salvaged some deals that didn’t make the newsletter but shouldn’t go unnoticed.

+ Los Cabos: 3-night all-inclusive resort/golf deal for $743
+ Los Cabos: Hotel + unlimited golf for $320/night
+ Los Cabos: Marquis Los Cabos + 4 rounds of golf for $670/night
+ Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida: Hotel + golf + lessons + credit= $170/night
+ St. Augustine, Florida: World Golf Hall of Fame gala event packages from $359
+ Orlando, Florida: Unlimited golf + hotel for $139/night


Charlotte Savino is online listings editor (and resident golfer) at Travel + Leisure.

Sale of the Year: 25 Cents a Night for a Caribbean Getaway!

200910-b-avijpgAfter almost a decade as an editor at Travel + Leisure, I’ve developed a sixth sense about offers that seem too good to be true. Which is why I was justifiably skeptical when I ran across the U.S. Virgin Island’s CENTsational sale (while doing research for an appearance on the Today Show; watch the video here).

The cynic in me was tempted to write the deal off a a clever marketing ploy with enough fine print to fill an encyclopedia. However, after examining the details closely, I have to say that I’m sold. Here’s the back story: to celebrate the newly minted U.S.V.I. quarter, a dozen hotels on St. Thomas and St. Croix , including Marriott Frenchman's Reef Resort, are offering a 25 cent nightly rate for a three-night stay (plus nominal taxes and fees).

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