Recent Writing Articles

The Winner of the 2012 My Life’s a Trip Vacation Photo Contest is….

The judges have voted and the votes have been tallied. The Grand Prize winner of the My Life’s a Trip Vacation Photo Contest 2012 is…

Jökulsárlón by Claudia Cooper (USA):

Blue ice, a lagoon, the people on the hill… this picture made me want to visit Iceland and warm up with some Brennivin.

Congratulations, Claudia! You made ice look incredibly intriguing and inviting.

The photographer who shot Jökulsárlón, Claudia Cooper, wins a super fly grand prize package worth $1,000 including:

For 2nd place we had a tie!

Dreamland by Jayanta Roy (India) ….

This colorful, joyful entry was wildly intriguing

and Prayer by Sudipto Das (India) :

We were wowed by these sari-clad women praying in the Ganges

Both these colorful entries had identical scores, so instead of casting a deciding between them, we chose to award two 2nd place prizes. Both photographers will receive:

  • A $50 iTunes Gift Card
  • A copy of iPhone Photography: How to Shoot, Edit and Share Great Photographs, the new eBook by Misho Baranovic

Our 3rd Place Winner is Into the Land of Snow and Ice by Zoran Stanko (Croatia):

This mountain scene is nothing short of icy and epic.

For more of Zoran’s Work, check out his

The Third Place winner receives:

Because the judges final scores were close, I have decided to award a few images honorable mentions, since it they were neck and neck with the winners and it was just a matter of points. The photographers of the following images each win Honorable Mentions and a $10 iTunes gift card.

Honorable Mentions go to:

Muir Woods by Melissa Vincent( @misvincent on Instagram and Twitter), Andalusia by Taylor Mitchie(@racingwinds on Twitter), Walled City in Dubrovnik by Laurel Stewart(@lfstewart on Twitter and Instagram), Swiss Alps by Kevin Chen, About to Touch Down (Seattle) by Dina Maccabee, and Strange Bed Pillows by Ver Latorre.

The judges all commented on the quality of the entries and how difficult it was to narrow down the selection. Much thanks to all who entered and to our international panel of Judges Misho Baranovic, Severin Matusek, and Rebecca Adler Rotenberg for taking the time to review the finalists and help decide the winners.

Congratulations to all the winners, and everyone who participated. We’re hard at work coming up with a fun theme for a new photo contest which we will announce after the holidays.

My assistant, Anastasia, will be coordinating with the winners via email to see what country they are located in, and how best to redeem their prizes.

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My Life’s A Trip Vacation Photo Contest 2012: Finalists Shortlist!

I’m extremely excited to announce the 41 finalists whose images will go on the next round of the My Life’s a Trip Vacation Photo Contest 2012. We received hundreds of great entries from all over the globe, and the images are truly a world tour of interesting places. There were and very, very few bad photos. A few images had to be disqualified because they were submitted incorrectly, and a few shooters have more than one image progressing to the finals.

There were some stunning images that I loved, but that lacked enough context to make them unable to stand alone in a contest (although they would be publishable and work great in a photo essay). All the photographs I selected gave me an emotional response. They made me want to know more about the destination, or to be along on that trip, or want to see more of the place.  I wound up being intrigued by a pillow fight, sandy beaches, mountains, giant redwoods, a smoking rasta, Hawaiian slugs, wet dog smell, saffron robed monks, trains, planes, and the rear view mirrors of automobiles. Harsh winters caught my attention as did African sunsets, fairs, fog, sun flare, rooftops, ice floes, and exotically colored Indian saris as well as moments of everyday life.

I’ve narrowed it the entries to the shortlist of 41 images featured above. Now I will pass these images along to my international panel of fabulous photographer judges Misho Baranovic, Severin Matusek, and Rebecca Adler Rotenberg,  who will decide the Grand Prize Winner as well as 1st, 2nd and 3rd place winners. I really have no idea who is going to come out the winners– I am pretty sure I can guess which images might appeal most to Misho, Severin, and Rebecca individually, but together? I haven’t a clue! So this is very exciting for me too. In the event of a tie, I will cast the deciding vote.

The photographers whose images are above are listed below (but not in order, as to keep the judging process a bit more anonymous). Congratulations to all of you and thanks so much for participating. Stay tuned for the winners, which should be announced by December 15th (or earlier).

  • Alex Hamilton-McLeod.
  • Ali Jardine.
  • Amber De Grace.
  • Amo Passicos.
  • Andre Boto.
  • Claudia Cooper.
  • Dina Maccabee.
  • Edi Caves.
  • Eva Lim.
  • Harsh Wardhan.
  • Jayanta Roy.
  • Joe Kunin.
  • Karen Hanson-Sharp.
  • Kevin Chen.
  • Kristin Luna.
  • Laine Walden.
  • Laurel Stewart.
  • Lesley Towns.
  • Lorenzo Gonzalez.
  • Marita Hodges.
  • Melissa Vincent.
  • Michael Blades.
  • Mike G. Abelson.
  • Misha Zagorac.
  • Natalie Taylor.
  • Ravi Kotecha.
  • Robin Bengtson.
  • Ron Murnik.
  • Ryan Hickey.
  • Shuhei Nishikawa
  • Stephanie Mueller.
  • Sudipto Das.
  • Taylor Michie.
  • Ver Latorre.
  • Zoran Stanko.

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The My Life’s a Trip Vacation Photo Contest has been Extended!

Marita Hodges: Nothing says Hawaii vacation like skydiving at dawn. Shot this guy on my window this morning.

The MLAT team has been blown away by quality of images that have entered in our First Annual Vacation Photo Contest, and due to popular demand, we’re extending the deadline for the contest by two weeks. The new deadline is Wednesday, November 14th. Then we have to decide which images we will move forward to our international panel of really cool judges.

In this post we’re showcasing some of our recent favorite entries.

Remember- There’s a Super Fly Prize Package in store for the Grand Prize winner worth over $1,000!

The grand prize winner of the first ever My Life’s A Trip Vacation Photo Contest will get enough goodies to take an actual vacation (or at least a weekend away). I’m throwing my hard earned points and miles in the kitty to put together this grand prize package worth over $1000*:

25,000 United Airlines Miles (good for a domestic US roundtrip coach ticket)
50,000 Club Carlson Points (good for nights at properties by Radisson, Park Plaza, Park Inn, and Country Inn & Suites)
A copy of iPhone Photography: How to Shoot, Edit and Share Great Photographs, the new eBook by Misho Baranovic
And, since every other contest gives one away… a $100 iTunes Gift Card!

The amazing images in this post are by the following talented photographers from around the globe:

    • Ali Jardine.
    • Andre Boto.
    • Angela Failor.
    • Aoife Kirk.
    • Biondić Josip Joža.
    • Claudia Cooper.
    • Curtis Matwishyn.
    • Danielle Jurgens.
    • Diego Camposeco.
    • Dina Maccabee.
    • Eva Lim.
    • Halbert Bai.
    • Harsh Wardhan.
    • Joe Kunin.
    • Karen Hanson-Sharp.
    • Kevin Chen.
    • Kristin Luna.
    • Leka Huie.
    • Lesley Towns.
    • Lindsey Williams.
    • Marita Hodges.
    • Mihai Scorpan.
    • Misha Zagorac.
    • Ravi Kotecha.
    • Ron Murnik.
    • Timothy Henry Charles Tamm.
    • Verity Bowater.

Remember, as a condition of entry, it is necessary to “Like” the MLAT FB page.

Here’s how you enter. Good luck and keep those entries coming!

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Glamping in the South Pacific: A Stay at the Jean-Michel Cousteau Fiji Resort

Sunset sail at the Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort in Fiji

Editor’s Note:

Earlier this month I visited the Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort in Fiji on assignment for Glamping.com. You can read my full daily trip reports on the Glamping.com Blog here. I don’t want to repeat myself, so this post is a more traditional hotel review for readers of this blog.

- Jen

Poolside at the Jean-Michel Cousteau Fiji Resort

The last time I visited Fiji I was on my honeymoon. Having just celebrated a milestone anniversary, my husband and I thought it was time to re-visit the South Pacific island country we had such fond memories from. I was thrilled to find a Glamping.com property in Fiji, so started pinned down dates at the Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort in early October. The resort is one of the world’s first eco-resorts and has, as one would assume with the name “Cousteau” attached, an excellent reputation for it’s SCUBA diving program.

The Musical welcome at JMC Resort Fiji

There are not a lot of flights from the US to Fiji, so we booked business class on Fiji Airways direct flight from LAX to Nadi, Fiji. For the record, Fiji Airways rocks. The 11 1/2 hour flight was painless and the the airline has extremely friendly flight attendants and a gorgeous, minimalist livery with tribal accents. We spent a few nights in Nadi to recover from jet lag before hopping on the smaller plane to the island of Savusavu, where the resort is located.

We were greeted at the Nadi airport by Mini, a representative from the resort who helped manage to pull some strings to get us on an earlier flight to the island. It was our first interaction with the personalized service for which the resort is known. All the staff was helpful and very friendly. I also liked that they all wear very legible name tags, so you don’t feel pressured to memorize everyone’s name. There is high staff-to-guest ratio, so it’s a thoughtful touch.

Garden Bure #18 was our home away from home

We arrived to a musical greeting and a lovely message of “welcome home,” which sets the tone for the resorts laid-back-yet-attentive management philosophy.

Our room, a thatched room traditional Fijian”bure,”was not ready when we arrived so we just chilled out near the pool in the adults-only “serenity area.” Wifi worked on the day beds and staff checked on us frequently to make sure we had everything we needed… including several fresh, young coconuts to drink.


Note: EVERYTHING tastes better when served in a coconut

Left: the seated hammock for our Garden Bure Right: a seaside seating area

The rooms upscale yet simple thatched huts (called bures), cooled by fans. The bathroom was suitably luxurious with dual sinks and a good shower. The staff put out mosquito coils every night and will hang mosquito netting above your bed upon request (we requested it). There are no televisions or telephones in the rooms, but you don’t miss them. Our garden bure was not the quietest room, as it was situated close to the Bula club (the on-site club for young children) and family pool. Couples might prefer booking an ocean front bure should you want more solitude.

Simple island elegance is the vibe in Garden Bure #18

Overall the resort did a great job keeping both families and children happy. Each child is assigned a Nanny during their stay, and their are activities for both younger children as well as teens. Basically EVERY family member has a good time at the resort. I shocked to find myself enjoying the crab races that were intended for the kids. The kids programs have a eco-education theme to them that I thought was a nice touch, and the resort employs a lot of locals so it gives you a great sense for the warmth of the Fijian people.

Plenty of seating areas and a well staffed activities center are big draws at the resort

September and October are high tourist season in Fiji (due to Australian school holidays) and are known for having the best weather. My stay experienced unseasonable rains, but that didn’t hamper the fun as much as my tanning and photo opportunities. The thatched roofs above the poolside day beds kept me dry and there were plenty of umbrellas available if you wanted to dash to your bure.

Visiting the private island belonging to the resort was one of the highlights of the trip

One of the resort’s not-to-be missed features is a visit to it’s private island, which is about 10 minutes away by boat. The island can be booked for a picnic lunch or a romantic dinner for an extra charge at this all-inclusive resort.

Left: A kayak on the private island Right: Palm tree shadows on the private island’s private beach

The activities staff packed us a cooler full of beers and water (bottled Fiji, of course) and gave us a radio in case we wanted to be picked up earlier than our pre-arranged time. It was fun to explore the small island with it’s perfect sandy cove beach and covered dining area. A few beers in we were giggling and screaming “Wilson” a la Tom Hanks in Castaway. Our return ride arrived right on time and we were shuttled by boat back to the resort in time for happy hour.

Just in case you were wondering… no tresspassing allowed!

The resort has a different theme each day… be it Fijian Culture, Ecological Awareness, or Rainforest Exploration. This is a nice touch and keeps the routine from getting monotonous. There are various excursions both on the resort grounds as well as off the property so you can get a hit of culture even if you never leave the resort’s grounds. It’s a great program.

One of the views from JMC Fiji’s Private Island

There were daily snorkeling trips for both adults and teens, and the activity center had plenty of catamarans and upright paddle boards available for those who prefer to stay above the water.

The resort’s pool is the social hub

The center of the resort’s social activity is the resort’s pool and dining Vale ni Vakayakavi. The evening activities (such as dance performances and the aforementioned crab races) also take place in this space.

Left: perfectly ripe papaya for breakfast Right: a corn cake with bacon, tomato, and greens

The food at the Jean-Michel Cousteau Fiji resort was local, fresh, and excellent. It was far better than any of the food I had in Nadi and the portion sizes are perfectly sized so that your well fed but still fit into your bikini.

Daily Specials listed on the board at breakfast

Trying the daily breakfast specials

All but alcoholic beverages are included in the room rate and the crazy delicious Mai Tais were well worth the splurge.

A cooking demonstration during “Fijian Culture” day

Soup and salad at lunch

A table set for a family at the dining vale

The coconut braised plantain we learned to make during the cooking lesson

Two of the resort’s standout dishes: the thinly sliced pork with island slaw and the tuna udon

Enjoying a Kava Ceremony with the Kava boys, who performed nightly

The most memorable night was on Fijian Culture day when the proteins for dinner were cooked in a traditional Fijian lovo pit, and served buffet style in palm frond serving baskets.

Left: the traditional Fijian Lovo cooking pit “before” Right: the “after” shot of the lovo cooking pit

The nightly torch lighting ceremony

Most of the guests at the resort are from Australia and New Zealand, with the US being the third strongest market. The guests were all friendly and I felt a tad guilty that I could not engage in their convivial cricket and rugby rivalry banter, as I do not speak either cricket or rugby. 

A table set for 2 for dinner at the resort’s vale

Left: chicken drumsticks  at dinner Right: braided palm serving bowls on the buffet at the lovo dinner

Poolside lantern glowing at night

Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort Fiji

All inclusive rates start at $980.

Address: Lesiaceva Point, Savusavu, Vanua Levu, Fiji
Reservations (toll free in USA & Canada): (800) 246-3454
Direct: +1(415) 788-5794
Email: info@fijiresort.com

Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort features 25 bures (Fijian bungalows).

Disclosure: Much thanks to the Jean-Michel Cousteau Fiji Resort and Glamping.com for partially sponsoring my stay.  All opinions expressed are my own, based on my experiences during my stay at the resort.

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Fijian Dancers at the Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort Fiji: A Photo Essay with GIFs

A group of school aged children performing at the Jean-Michel Cousteau Fiji Resort

One of the things I liked most about my recent glamping trip to the Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort in Fiji was that it felt authentically Fijian. There was no chain hotel vibe and Fijian culture was front and center.

A group of dancers from Nukubalavu Village

Two nights a week the property has groups of Fijian dancers perform. One dance troupe is from Nukubalavu village, which is the village where most of the hotel’s staff reside. Many of the dancers are related to the hotel workers which made the performance extra special.

Fijian dancers twirling GIF

Busting a move, Fijian style

The dancers perform a meke– a traditional Fijian dance performance– that is usually done at celebrations and festivals.

Fiji’s answer to Twerking GIF

I liked that the dancers were various age groups and performed in a variety of styles.

I adored this dancer’s traditional outfit and sweet smile

Hips Don’t Lie: Fiji Edition

There are no televisions at the Jean-Michel Resort, but with entertainment like this you definitely do not miss them.

Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort

Lesiaceva Point, Savusavu, Vanua Levu, Fiji

+679 885 0188

info@fijiresort.com

You can read more about my stay at the Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort in Fiji on the Glamping.com blog.

 

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