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Coming and Going: Hunting for Curacao's Treasure, New GoBYO.com Site

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Sunday, April 19, 2009

DEPT. OF RECESSIONARY SPENDING

Treasure Island

You've seen the commercial, we've seen the commercial. A fake anchorman announces that a chest full of a half-million dollars in cash has been buried somewhere on the Caribbean island nation of Curacao and that the country has "challenged U.S. residents today to go find it."

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Whatever you might think of the ad campaign -- an act of genius? desperation? -- it's hard to argue with success. Since launching a few weeks back, the contest Web site, http://www.curacaotreasure.com, has logged more than 130,000 entries. Everyone, it seems, wants to be one of the 10 finalists selected to visit the island in August and search for the booty.

Which gave CoGo an idea. How about we scrape together the money for a plane ticket (about $650 round trip) and a good shovel ($25.97 at Home Depot), and go down there and start digging now? What are we waiting for? They've got a pile of cash buried somewhere on Curacao, right?

"Figuratively speaking," said Brenda Benjamin, director of marketing for the Curacao Tourist Board. "There's no treasure chest as of yet, but there will be." And then, as if detecting CoGo's disappointment, she added, "Remember, the real treasure is Curacao."

Uh-huh. But someone will definitely be getting 5,000 Benjamins, won't they?

"Yes," said Benjamin.

Anyway, as you might expect, most Caribbean sun spots, Curacao among them, have been hit hard by the economic downturn. ("We're very worried about what 2009 will bring," Benjamin told us.) But this particular sun spot had another problem. Market research showed that much of the American public had no idea where or what Curacao was. Its treasures were -- get it? -- hidden.

But not for long, it seems. Thanks to the campaign, which requires contest entrants to answer trivia questions about the island before they can enter (Googling is encouraged), Curacao is quickly becoming quite known to Americans.

As the place where they bury figurative treasure, that is.

For more information on Curacao tourism, visit http://www.curacao.com.

TRAVEL TICKER

A sign of the times: The new Web site GoBYO.com, which launched earlier this month, has easy-to-use listings of restaurants in 10 U.S. metropolitan areas that welcome diners who tote their own wine. The site's database -- which covers Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, southeast Florida and the D.C. area -- lists restaurants' average entree prices, corkage fees and wine-by-the-glass options, plus "wine-friendliness" ratings. CoGo hopes they give higher scores to places where waiters won't sneer at a bottle of Two-Buck Chuck.

BARGAIN OF THE WEEK

American is offering spring sale fares to Europe. For example, round-trip fare on connecting flights from Reagan National to Rome is $503, including $93 taxes. Other airlines are matching. Depart by May 26, and complete travel by June 25. Some dates are sold out. Saturday night minimum stay and 30-day maximum required. Book at http://www.aa.com by May 1, or pay $20 more by calling 800-433-7300.

Reporting: Scott Vogel, Christina Talcott

Help feed CoGo. Send travel news, road reports and juicy tattles to: cogo@washpost.com. By fax: 202-912-3609. By mail: CoGo, Washington Post Travel Section, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071.


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