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Aqua Bamboo Hawaii Shermans ContestThis time of year, despite all the cheer, we have one thing on our mind: vacation. That and since we’re based in the bitter northeast, sunshine and warmth, and if we really want to get specific, sand and surf and gay times and (ironically) frozen drinks. In other words, Hawaii!

Now thanks to Aqua Resorts (AquaResorts.com) – a mid-to-high-end gay-friendly operator with 15 properties throughout five of Hawaii’s islands – our dreams can become your windfall. One lucky ShermansTravel.com reader will win a free five-night stay at the Aqua Bamboo on Oahu from January 1 till December 8, 2011 minus some select blackout dates around Easter, Independence Day, and Thanksgiving. Located in the buzzing heart of Honolulu, a leisurely six block walk from gay hub Hula’s Bar, winners will also receive two free passes on their popular Saturday afternoon catamaran cruise, a chill way to see the tropical sites and meet other LGBT folk over a mai tai (nude sunbathing permitted). Read more

Even with newfangled GPS gadgetry out there in increasing numbers, a good, old-fashioned map remains a staple for any self-respecting adventure traveler.

To that end, the National Geographic Society, the gold-standard source for maps for nearly a century, recently announced plans to expand its AdventureMaps line. The expansion will bring travelers a slew of new options for finding their way in increasingly popular adventure destinations such as Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand, South Africa and Thailand. Countries and cities in Africa, the Middle East, South America, Asia, and Europe are also on deck for a total of 60 new destinations by the end of 2012, and 30 more by summer of next year.

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New York City HalloweenPost Labor Day lull? As if. Gay travel heats up as temps cool down, and we’ve got four deals to get you on your way.

Win Free Airfare to NYC for Halloween

LogoTV is at it again. After having fans drooling over Gaga in Las Vegas, they’re inviting revelers to get their ghoul on in New York City over Halloween Weekend. Winners of the “Spooky in the City” sweepstakes will receive round-trip tickets on Southwest Airlines and VIP access to the after party of the 37th Annual Village Halloween Parade, the largest and craziest costumed affair and street romp in the world. Click here to enter.

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21chotellobby.jpgKentucky’s hippest hotel, just voted by Conde Nast Traveler’s readership as #1 in the country (and #6 in the world) for 2009, announced plans Wednesday to debut a new sister property just upriver in Cincinnati, Ohio. The 21c Museum Hotel, an upscale boutique which opened on downtown Louisville’s Main Street in 2006, has played a key role in revitalizing Derby City’s art scene. The renovated 19th-century tobacco & bourbon warehouse has drawn national acclaim for its high-style halls packed to the brim with whimsical paintings, abstract video art, photos and sculptures (like the lobby’s army of red penguin statues) – all from this millennium. The hotel’s 90 rooms feature custom touches, from furniture to pewter mint julep cups. Popular restaurant Proof on Main has become renowned for its modern twists on locally grown, regional cuisine (ahem, gourmet Bison burgers). Read more

Ernest HemingwayJuly 21 marks the late Nobel Prize-winning author Ernest Hemingway‘s 110th birthday, and with that, a gaggle of bleach-bearded men are coming out of the woodwork to participate in Hemingway look-alike contests on at least two continents.

In Key West, historic Sloppy Joe’s Bar (a popular haunt of Hemingway’s back in the 1930s) holds an annual “Papa” Hemingway Look-Alike Contest from July 23-25 during the city’s annual Hemingway Days festival. Look-alikes decked in khaki safari outfits and fisherman’s sweaters (Hemingway was an avid sportsman) flock to Sloppy Joe’s to test their looks, and compete in an Ernest fish-off, arm wrestling competition, and a zany mock “running of the bulls”—a credit to Hemingway’s love for bullfightiing. Read more

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Most of us have wondered what it would be like to travel for more than the standard two-week block of vacation time typically allotted each year. I know I still wish I had taken a few months after college to gallivant around Europe. Well, if you’ve ever wished you had the means or the moxie to spend a year abroad traveling, you should enter Hyatt Hotels Big Welcome Contest which will award three winners (one per region in North America, Europe and Asia) 365 free nights at any Hyatt Hotels worldwide and 1 million frequent flyer miles to help get you to your chosen destinations; both valid through June 30, 2014. So whether you just want to live the hotel life for a year or host a big destination wedding or event, why not do it with Hyatt for free. To enter the contest, enter your Hyatt Gold Passport number or enroll in the program and submit a 250-word essay answering the question: How would you spend 365 free nights at Hyatt to create an unforgettable experience? You can also send a video or audio photo to compliment your essay. Entries must be submitted by May 13, 2009, with the final grand prize winners announced on or around June 12, 2009. For more information and to enter click here.

The winner of the Big Welcome content was announced in June: Bill Jolly took the prize with his video entry. See it here.

VoteYou may have thought you rocked your final vote in the ‘08 presidential election or maybe it was last Tuesday to try and save cast off American Idol contestant, Alexis Grace, but, nope, you have yet another opportunity to work the polls. The nominees this time around: Names and logos for a new New York City boutique hotel in the Flatiron District. Located on the corner of Madison Avenue, the hotel, formerly known as The Madison (how typical) is undergoing a major facelift and is scheduled to showcase its new look, and name, this June. The “You Name It, We Claim It” campaign allows voters to pick their favorite moniker and logo, and will also award one lucky voter a free three-night stay for two, including airfare, to any of the Desires Hotels in Miami, San Juan, New York, Milwaukee, or St. Louis; second and third place winners get an iPod Touch or iPod Nano, respectively. Polls are open now and close March 31. The winner will be chosen on April 2. Go to vote.desireshotels.com to cast your vote today!     

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