Thursday, 4 July 2013

Tommy Hilfiger #GoneSurfing Trip to the Maldives - Won on Twitter!

You know those competitions to win 'Holidays of a Lifetime' or amazing trips? No one ever really wins those do they? Well, until recently I would have probably been as doubtful as you of ever winning one of those competitions. It seemed about as likely as winning a million on the lottery. Back in the beginning of May though, I received an email from the Hilfiger Club, which I have been a member of for a couple of years, with a simple attention grabbing headline:

Hi Simon, wanna go surfing?

I have in fact always wanted to try out surfing as I was once addicted to skateboarding, and I have also tried out snowboarding. Naturally therefore I was intrigued so opened the email and inside there was an amazing sounding competition: 

WANNA CATCH A FEW WAVES? WIN A TRIP TO PARADISE!


The premise was simple - in order to win a once-in-a-lifetime adventure to the Maldives with your best friend all you had to do was tweet #GONESURFING #HILFIGERCLUB with your favourite surf spot or surf tale. Despite the fact that I had never actually surfed before in my life, I didn't want to let that stand in my way of such an amazing prize. I knew just the place to Tweet about - Famara beach in Lanzarote which I had been to last August when on holiday there. 

I Tweeted this: 
"Famara, is a great place for surfing with its epic cliff backdrop! See here- ". I didn't really expect anything to come from it but I had nothing to lose.

About a week later I missed an early phone call but later on in the day I received an email from a Tommy Hilfiger employee saying I had been shortlisted to win the trip! It was all very sudden as the trip was due to take place a month later from the 14th – 22nd of June 2013. After some setbacks in terms of who I was taking in which I had to change my guest joining me to my dad, I was told I had won the trip! 

Two weeks later my dad and I flew to Lisbon Portugal to begin our amazing #GoneSurfing trip. We were met at the airport and taken to an amazing hotel in lovely town called Cascais, where we were to stay for a night and have a surfing lesson. We were joined by an amazing international group which included 1 English, 2 Belgians, 4 Spanish, 2 Dutch, 1 Italian and 1 Australian. A couple of hours after our arrival we headed straight to the beach for our surf lesson, the first of mine and my dad's life.

Surf lesson in Cascais, Portugal.
Photo courtesy of Sonny Vandevelde

Cascais, Portugal

Cascais, Portugal

Cascais is a very beautiful town and the hotel we stayed at was amazing, as you would expect from a 5 star hotel called the "Grande Real Villa Italia Hotel and Spa". It was probably the best hotel I have ever stayed in, and was extremely luxurious. The staff were extremely courteous and everything was decorated and maintained to a fantastic standard. 

Our stay in Portugal was short but sweet; the next day we left for the airport in the afternoon for a flight to Dubai airport on route to Male in the Maldives. Both flights were with Emirates airlines which again was an excellent experience with top quality service, tasty food and modern services on board such as touch screen TV screens. Tommy Hilfiger it seems spared no expense for this whole holiday, and it really was living up to the billing of "Trip of a lifetime".

When we arrived at Male airport we couldn't believe it as it was raining heavily. We had travelled away from the UK to escape the rain. Luckily though this was just a passing shower which only lasted a couple of hours and was pretty much the only rain of the whole trip. We met a Portuguese guy who was to be our surf instructor in the Maldives and an Australian lady who came to photograph the trip alongside her friend Sonny the trip photographer. 

The Maldives really are a different world and like nothing in Europe. 

My dad and I on the Princess Ushwa, the boat we all stayed on for a week.




The Maldivian crew of The Princess Ushwa were second to none. They were extremely polite and friendly and mostly spoke a high standard of English. The boat was spacious, clean and comfortable and we were provided with big meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I have not been used to eating that much sea-food before but it was delicious none the less. We needed the big meals to keep us going on all of our trips out swimming, surfing and snorkeling. 

My dad and I both realized early on in the trip that we are both out of shape. My dad being 55 has much more of an excuse though. Theoretically I am in the prime of my life but I really didn't feel like it trying to paddle against waves and after swallowing too much sea water. I felt rather sea-sick at some points on the smaller boat that transported us out to the waves. I couldn't stop myself from throwing up over the side of the boat at one point but luckily the others didn't see. 



Our amazing Portuguese surf instructor Joao Maya







#GoneSurfing group shot next to a ship-wreck.
Photo courtesy of Sonny Vandevelde

Huvafen Fushi Resort

During the middle of our Maldives adventure we went to an absolutely stunning resort to relax in their infinity pool, enjoy complimentary cocktails, go snorkeling, feed stingrays and soak up the luxurious ambiance.

Although we didn't get to stay there it was a real privilege getting to see this amazing island retreat.







Final night beach bonfire party

To top off a fantastic week in paradise, we were taken to a deserted island for a beach bonfire party with music, beer, barbecue and games. It was really good fun and ended the holiday on a high.


Amazing sunset on our final night in the Maldives.
Photo courtesy of Sonny Vandevelde
Thanks Tommy!
Photo courtesy of Jacqui Turner



The guys from #GoneSurfing
Photo courtesy of Jacqui Turner
Overall this was an absolutely amazing experience that I will never forget. For anyone that ever doubts whether or not to bother entering these competitions, you've got nothing to lose and possibly everything to gain so next time you see something on Twitter give it a go. I haven't returned a pro-surfer but I am extremely grateful to have won this once in a lifetime trip courtesy of Tommy Hilfiger. Thanks Tommy!

Tommy Hilfiger #GoneSurfing on Facebook

Sonny Vandevelde blog - http://www.sonnyphotos.typepad.com/
Jacqui Turner blog - http://www.wheresmyrider.com/

Beneath is a link to the rest of my photos on Flickr



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