10 Unforgettable Birthdays for 10 Unforgettable Years Competition

by Great Hotels of the World
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Thank you to all of you who have submitted unforgettable birthday entries whilst on your travels for our 10th birthday competition. We have loved reading all your funny, exciting and adventure filled entries you have sent in. We have been overwhelmed with such a fantastic response!

But, the votes have now been counted and a winner has been chosen by you.

And the winner is ...

  • An unexpected ending – Jen Whelan
  • "5am in a cold caravan in Northern France was not how I had dreamed my 30th birthday would commence. I was whisked onto the TGV at René heading south. Unfortunately the train broke down and the surprise plan was revealed - a cruise with the entire family waiting onboard. Caravanning was all a ploy!

    Several nail biting hours later, we were underway. My brother had managed to talk the Captain into delaying departure. Our taxi sped across Marseille directly to the cruise lines, where passport control and a huge applause awaited. The holiday and birthday of a lifetime began!"

    Jen has won a five night stay to see the Northern Lights in Iceland, including:

    • Five nights in a deluxe room for two, on the banks of one of Iceland’s best Salmon Rivers, with a view of volcanoes and glaciers at South Iceland’s top resort, Hotel Ranga
    • Sumptuous breakfast each day
    • One four-course gourmet dinner for two at Hotel Ranga’s gourmet restaurant, Restaurant 4
    • Free rental car from MyCar car rental, offering new Toyota cars, with pickup from Keflavik International Airport and GPS navigation system included

    Please find all our other nine finalist's entries below:

  • Two for the price of one – Alison Eardly

  • "I celebrated my 27th birthday in Jamaica with my boyfriend sipping exotic cocktails. Feeling lucky, I entered the resort’s jewellery raffle and we were stunned to discover I had won the main prize of a sapphire which they set into a gold ring. My husband looked a little disgruntled and I soon discovered why. That evening, in a little wooden restaurant set over the ocean, after the main course, my boyfriend suddenly got down on one knee and produced a little box containing a beautiful diamond ring. Of course, I said ‘yes’, catapulting this birthday directly into the ‘unforgettable’ category."

  • Old habits never die – Claire Dean

  • "In 1984, I celebrated my 4th birthday while on a family holiday to England. It was unforgettable because my grandmother and auntie both baked me a cake. (When you’re four, blowing out candles twice is a pretty big deal!) It’s also the only memory I have of my late Grandfather. On the morning of my birthday, while sneakily coaxing one last mouthful of Weetabix onto my spoon with my thumb, Granddad laughed & announced that 4 year olds were far too grown up for such poor table manners. Twenty seven years on, I still use my thumb…"

  • The mystic key – David Radstone

  • "Winter 1968. She American, and I English, both Strasbourg undergraduates, living in Le Grand Hotel. To London, a Paddington hotel with no night porter. They gave us a key. Young and luckily endowed, a romantic West End evening and meal at J Sheekey. Beautiful entertaining intelligent young girl. What anticipation! Back to the hotel, but where was the key? Evening’s end, out on a cold pavement? No!, a key to her Philadelphia home. With great confidence she inserted that American key into the Paddington door. The door opened. The rest was, if not silence, of which I speak no more."

  • An unforgettable birthday morning – by Gordon MacPherson

  • "I woke up early and snuck out of the house. It was dark but the air was warm. The journey was uneventful apart from the swerve to avoid a hippo. Out of the car, fishing tackle already prepped, a short hike and I was there… a beautiful lake and the sun starting to rise. But soft… upwind, ten yards to my left, a family of waterbuck was approaching. I sat back and watched. Scenting the air they came on, made their way to the water and drank… they never knew I was there… they left, then I left, without fishing… A birthday morning never to forget…"

  • Forever young – Joanne Jones

  • "A seventieth birthday looming ... Family want a party ... but I don't. I want freedom, excitement, travel and sunshine. Answer? A month's tour of the Golden West USA. My husband and I drove to see San Francisco, Lake Tahoe, Yosemite, Death Valley, Las Vegas and The Grand Canyon. We spent five sun-baked glorious days with our American friends in Sedona. On the Big Day we marvelled at the Grand Canyon, shimmering and quiet in the scorching sun, experienced a death- defying helicopter trip and celebrated with a real cowboy dinner in the evening. Do I feel seventy? No."

  • Payback time – Julie Sansom

  • "Away in the Cotswolds, my husband, two daughters, who were quite young at the time, and I had enjoyed a lovely few days away, with my birthday approaching, weather lovely. My lovely husband forgot it was my birthday, so after a bit of a strop from me went to the shop on-site and bought himself a paper, and bought me a frisbee! For my birthday! Got my own back in the evening when I was pulled up on stage by friends in the club and asked what I got for my birthday, one very embarrassed husband."

  • A birthday gone wrong – Kelvin Haste

  • "My unforgettable birthday happened on my 12th birthday. Our school year was spending 21 days on a camp site in France to learn about the Normandy Landings and improve our language skills. On the third evening I felt ill and was advised to go to bed early and sleep it off. The following morning I couldn’t get out of bed. A doctor was called and diagnosed German measles. The teachers decided that one boy would stay each day to watch me while the trip carried on as usual. I recovered just in time to catch the ferry home."

  • An elephant parade – Louisa Gamble

  • "My best birthday was spent in Sri Lanka. During the day we visited the elephant orphanage, and watched the elephants being washed in the river. They had such fun. Then in the evening we had balcony seats for the Kandy perahera: the annual festival of the Tooth. As dusk fell, you could see the elephants twinkling as they paraded down the street in the most beautiful capes, along with fire-eaters, drummers and dancers. The parade included 179 elephants on the day we went. Totally breathtaking. Then a tuktuk up the hill to our hotel- we even had to help push!"

  • Sea-life adventure in Mexico – Rebecca Owen

  • "My memorable birthday was spent encountering sea-life in its natural environment in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. Early in the morning my husband and I watched baby turtles hatching on the beach and making their way into the sea. Then we spent the rest of the day on a sailboat where we saw dolphins, rays, sea turtles and most excitingly, two breeding whales. These two incredible creatures leapt out of the water one after the other only a few metres away from our boat. Unfortunately at the time we had put our cameras down but the mental picture is imprinted in my mind to this day."

    General Terms

    1. No purchase necessary: a purchase or payment of any kind will not increase your chances of winning.
    2. Employees of Great Hotels of the World or its subsidiaries are ineligible to enter the competition.
    3. Entrants must be 18 years or older to enter.
    4. Personal information collected by Great Hotels of the World in connection with the contest, will be collected and used according to applicable laws, rules and regulations.
    5. Great Hotels of the World may share entrant data with Hotel Ranga. If you would prefer not to have your details shared please email us and tell us at competition@ghotw.com.
    6. The competition closes at 17:00 (GMT) on 9 February 2012. No responsibility is accepted for late, lost, misdirected or illegible/inaudible entries.
    7. Great Hotels of the World reserves the right to cancel, suspend and/or modify the competition and/or prize at any time.
    8. Great Hotels of the World may use any personal information entrants provide in connection with this promotion for the purpose of running the promotion and also in adverts, publications, media statements and other promotional material. Great Hotels of the World may disclose the information for those purposes to its related bodies corporate and contractors, and to the promotional partners.
    9. The entrant indemnifies Great Hotels of the World and the promotion partners against each claim, action, proceeding, judgment, damage, loss, expense or liability incurred or suffered by, or brought, made or recovered against Great Hotels of the World and the promotion partners or their associated companies, including but not limited to:
      • Any breach of these Conditions of Entry; or
      • Any infringement by you of the intellectual property rights of any third party
    10. Great Hotels of the World are not liable for any problems or technical malfunction of any telephone network or lines, computer on-line systems, computer equipment, software, technical problems or traffic congestion on the Internet or at any website, or any combination thereof, including any injury or damage to participants or any other person's computer related to or resulting from participation in, downloading or uploading any materials in this promotion.


    1. To participate in the competition, entrants must write about their unforgettable birthday while on their travels in no more than 100 words. Entries longer than this may be disqualified.
    2. All submissions must be in English.
    3. Entries should be submitted to competition@ghotw.com and should include the entrants full name, address, telephone number and email address.
    4. The entrant’s submission must not contain brand names or trademarks or material that is inappropriate, indecent, obscene, hateful, defamatory or libellous. The submission must not discriminate against race, sex, religion, nationality, disability or age. Entries deemed to include any one of the above will be removed and disqualified from the competition.
    5. Only one entry per person is permitted.
    6. All entries must be received by 17:00 (GMT) on Thursday 9 February 2012 to be entered into the competition. Late entries will not be accepted.
    7. Entries must be the individuals own work.
    8. It is the entrant’s responsibility to ensure that no part of their entry infringes the copyright of any third parties or laws.
    9. Entrants may send a maximum of 3 photos to accompany their stories (optional). These must be sent in JPEG format and must be a maximum of 10MB in size.
    10. Illegible, incomplete or defaced entries will not be accepted. No responsibility can be accepted for lost entries.
    11. Entries will be judged on which are the most original and entertaining and Great Hotels of the World’s decision of who is picked as the winner is final and binding.
    12. Ten finalists will be chosen and posted on Great Hotels’ websites for voting by users. Votes are limited to one vote per person. The finalist with the highest number of votes will win. Great Hotels of the World reserves the right to override or change the public voting system if deemed necessary.
    13. In the event of a tie, Great Hotels of the World will choose a winner.
    14. Great Hotels of the World has the right to edit, adapt and publish any or all of the submissions and may use them in any media without attribution to the entrant.
    15. Great Hotels of the World reserves the right to disqualify any finalist who tampers with or influences, or benefits from tampering with or influencing, the entry process or the Promotion.
    16. Each entrant grants a worldwide, irrevocable, perpetual worldwide license to Great Hotels of the World to reproduce or feature any or all of the submissions in any type of media or promotional material.
    17. No joint or group entries are permitted.
    18. Great Hotels of the World reserves the right to select an alternate winner if it determines in its discretion that the winning finalist does not adequately satisfy the conditions of entry or are otherwise subject to disqualification.
    19. Great Hotels of the World and its promotion partners will never be liable for any indirect, incidental, special or consequential loss, or loss of profits or revenue arising out of your participation in this promotion.
    20. The entrant acknowledges and agrees that they are solely responsible for all liability resulting from the posting or publication of their birthday entries and other materials in connection with the contest.


    1. The winner will receive a five night stay for two people in a deluxe room at Hotel Ranga in South Iceland, including daily sumptuous breakfast, one four course gourmet dinner for two at Hotel Ranga’s gourmet restaurant, Restaurant 4 and a free rental car from MyCar car rental, offering new Toyota cars, with pickup from Keflavik International Airport and GPS navigation system included.
    2. Two passengers must travel together.
    3. The winner will be notified by email, phone or post.
    4. The winner must complete the trip before the end of April 2013.
    5. Transport is not included.
    6. The trip must be booked at least 28 days before departure.
    7. Prize is subject to availability and black-out dates may apply.
    8. The prize is non transferable and there is no cash alternative.
    9. No refund or compensation will be made in the event of the trip being cancelled.
    10. Once tickets are issued, no changes are permitted.
    11. The prize cannot be combined with any other offer.
    12. Hotel policy applies.
    13. All expenses and incidental travel costs not stated in the prize description are the sole responsibility of the winner.
    14. Great Hotels of the World reserves the right to cancel, suspend and/or modify the competition and/or prize at any time.
    15. The winners name may be obtained by sending a SAE to Marketing Department, Great Hotels of the World, Worldwide House, 22 Stephenson Way, London, NW1 2HD, United Kingdom.

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