Aug. 29, 2006 — Amy Costello was surfing around the Internet looking for information about a tropical vacation when she happened on the V.I. Hotel and Tourism Association's announcement about its Girlfriend's Sweepstakes.
Costello, 32, married with two children and on active duty with the National Guard in Reading, Mass, said she decided to enter because the entry form wasn't complicated.
Much to her surprise, she won the sweepstakes, which included a grand prize three-night stay at the Westin Resort and Villas on St. John, as well as a slew of luxurious activities on both St. John and St. Thomas for herself and four of her girlfriends.
"I never won anything before," she said Tuesday as she and her friends wound down their vacation.
The five women, from the Boston suburbs of Saugus and Lynn, flew on Spirit Airlines from Providence, R.I., Spirit's nearest gateway.
This was the first trip to the Virgin Islands for all of them.
"The views are beautiful, the beach wonderful and we stayed in an amazing villa," Costello said.
Her sister, Beth Imperial, a 34-year-old administrative assistant at an insurance company, said she couldn't get over the clarity of the water.
The five stayed in one of the Westin's villas. Their visit included dinner cooked by a chef at their villa, which Lori Castinetti, a 49-year-old fitness teacher, said was the highlight of her trip. "And having our own pool," she said.
Cordula Rafalko, a 38-year-old project manager at IBM, said the island tour was at the top of her favorites list. "I loved to see all the plants," she said.
Personal fitness trainer Leslie Fiore, 45, said that she especially enjoyed the shopping — an easy task since each of the women received $1,000 to spend on a shopping spree.
The women had lots to say about their experiences, including a foot massage, pedicures, manicures, and dinners, but they agreed that the most fun came because they were together. "Being with my girlfriends," Costello said.
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