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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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A Stay at the Belmond Villa San Michele in Florence, Italy

Gorgeous views of Florence from the Villa San Michele

There are a lot of luxury hotels to pick from in Florence, but there is only one in Fiesole hills in a converted 15th century former monastery that has a facade attributed to Michaelangelo– The Belmond Villa San Michele.

An alter from Villa San Michele’s former life as a monastery in reception

My husband and I chose the property from among LHW’s excellent edit of Italian properties. I love repurposed buildings and the Villa San Michele has managed to keep much of the Renaissance charm of the monastery intact while providing all the expected perks, luxuries, and excellent service that are expected from a Belmond property (note: The Belmond Brand was formerly known as Orient-Express).

Interior hallway at Villa San Michele

With gorgeous terraced gardens, a pool, a fabulous restaurant, a fitness center and a kids club on site, you don’t have to leave Villa San Michele to have a great time. But the staff wants you to get the best out of your time in Florence so the hotel offers a complementary shuttle for the 15 minute ride to the city center.

A simple and elegant room at Villa San Michele

The 21 guest rooms and 25 suites are classically elegant and surprisingly spacious considering some of them used to be monks cells. The bathrooms are modern and stocked with Bulgari amenities.

Marble drenched master bath at Villa San Michele

A bowl of fruit and bottle of Champagne were our welcome amenities. There was also a card from General Manager, Aaron Kaupp, inviting us to a wine reception on the lawn. When the General Manager goes out their way to meet with guests, you know that the service is top notch.

I’m guessing the monks didn’t eat this well

The breakfast spread is impressive, with an amazing selection of baked goods, meats, cheeses, and fruits in addition to cooked items. Eating delicious pizza for breakfast on the covered terrace overlooking Florence was especially delightful.

The baked goods on the breakfast buffett

The hotel’s concierge, Maurizio, the concierge was so great, we had him make our dinner reservations for our entire stay in Florence. He also set us up on a crazy good wine tasting tour of the nearby Chianti region.

Buffalo mozzarella, tomatos and pizza in the atmospheric La Loggia restaurant

Eggs Benedict and breakfast delights

Lobster pasta for lunch at Villa San Michele

Such a pretty dining experience

The covered terrace of the hotel’s La Loggia restaurant

Villa San Michele’s Gorgeous green lawn and terraced gardens

Stunning views overlooking Florence at Villa San Michele

A dreamlike archway at Villa San Michele

You can check out special offers (including stay two nights, get your third night free LHW offers for Villa San Michele here.

Belmond Villa San Michele

Via Doccia 4, 50014 Fiesole, Florence, Italy

Tel: +39 055 5678 200

Email: reservations.vsm@belmond.com

Reservations: + 39 0185 2678 803

Rates start at $711.39 (534.00 EUR) for Classic Double Room (with complimentary American Breakfast)

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A Stay at Villa D’Este Lake Como, Italy

The view from our Lake View Junior Suite in the Cardinal Building at Villa D’Este

This summer I visited Italy’s Lake Como for the first time. It’s stunningly beautiful, even though the weather was mostly rainy during my visit. My husband recently joined LHW’s Leaders Club Unlimited and LHW has an exceptional edit of hotels in Italy, including Villa d’Este.

Pool on the lake at Villa D’Este

We booked a executive Room Garden View but were upgraded to a Junior Suite with Lake View in the Cardinal Building, which was a very nice upgrade. As a Leaders Club Unlimited member, my husband was also given Three course complementary lunch for two at The Verandah (without drinks).

The view from Bar Canova

Some of the entrees, such as smoked sockeye salmon with caviar were € 80. The total value of this unpublished Leaders Club unlimited perk was around $300.  I would not have known the prices if my husband had not told me, this is the sort of old school hotel that gives the woman the menu with no prices.

Art in Bar Canova

Once we got into our Junior suite, we found a bottle of Prosecco as our welcome amenity, and a stunning view of the lake.

Classic Italian luxury is the vibe at Villa D’Este

Service at the hotel was top notch, and the bathroom smelled wonderful. Staff was very friendly, on top of everything and the concierge took care of all our restaurant reservations.

Boats at Villa D’Este

The hotel was offering daily boat excursions on the lake complete with a tour guide and a 90 minute stopover in Bellagio for € 90. I was going to go but choose not to because of the weather (and the bed was really, really comfortable).

Rainy but beautiful morning on Lake Como

The property has over 25 acres of grounds and gardens and huge fitness center complete with indoor pool. Due to the rain, the outdoor pool was closed during much of my stay.

The Queen’s Building at Villa D’Este

Breakfast for two was included in our room rate and the food and service was good. My only criticism– the breakfast buffet was not as impressive as everything else at the property.

Stunning gardens at Villa D’Este

It was also fun instagramming pictures from the property and having “George Clooney’s Villa” pop up as a possible location.

Pasta and tomato soup al fresco

Villa d’Este was not cheap, but the great service and luxe accommodations made up for the dicey weather.

Aperol Spritz at Canova Bar

The hotel had even set up a lounge and big screen television in one of the rooms on the ground floor to make a top notch lounge for World Cup viewing.

Sun & an Aperol Spritz

Villa d’Este is open from March through November.

Villa d’Este

Via Regina, 40

22012 Cernobbio, Italy

reservations@villadeste.it

Tel +39 031 3481

Fax +39 031 348873

Rates start at $696 .78 (€ 520.00)

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