During July and August, when most of Europe is clogged with American tourists, Switzerland enjoys its off-season. So if you're struggling to get last-minute reservations in Italy, skip Milano and head to Lugano, southern Switzerland's cosmopolitan gem that's so decidedly Italianate, you'll forget all about your Schweiz passport stamp. For an Alp-and-lake view, stay at the polished Villa Principe Leopoldo & Residence (pictured) and request a room in the Villa, not the Residence (011-41-91-985-8855; rooms from $245); or sleep near the Piazza della Riforma at Hotel Ticino (011-41-91-922-7772; rooms from $161). Shop for Versace, Armani, et al. on Via Nassa, or pop into Voglie (011-41-91-923-9203) for lesser-known Italian designs. Dine at Santabbondio (011-41-91-993-2388), and sample Italian-style wines at I Vini di Guido Brivio (011-41-91-646-0757).
Great Barrington, Massachusetts, has recently become an unlikely foodie destination in the Berkshires. Reser-vations at restaurants along Railroad Street, the town's main drag, are hard to come by, and Zagat's first-ever "Berkshires Bonus" section -- released last month -- has awarded four restaurants on this quarter-mile stretch ratings in the twenties. The transformation began five years ago, when Michael Marcus opened Bizen (413-528-4343), a Japanese restaurant with -- sushi lovers, take note -- fish from the same distributor as Nobu. Next came Union Bar & Grill (413-528-6228), with its New American menu and sleek steel interior. Verdura (413-528-8969) brought Northern Italian food to the neighborhood last year, and May saw the opening of Pearl's (413-528-7767), an upscale American eatery. Most recently, a bold trio opened another sushi restaurant, Gon San (413-644-6494), just a stone's throw away from Bizen.
I See Rich People
Starting in January, you'll be able to book a luxury villa -- even a celebrity-owned one -- at Caribbean resort Parrot Cay. Owners Christina and B. S. Ong are selling beachfront properties where private villas will be constructed and available for rent as part of the resort. Donna Karan and Bruce Willis are already building and will rent out their homes for an average of 45 weeks each year. Many properties will comprise more than one unit -- Willis, who plans to use his about three-to-eight weeks a year, is building a main house plus two one-bedroom villas -- and guests can rent the entire compound (around $15,000 to $20,000 per night) or individual units. All will have private beaches and pools, and guests will be able to access the main resort via golf buggy. Call 649-946-7788 for further information.
Clift notes Ian Schrager's boutique-hotel empire expands in July with the opening of Clift, in San Francisco. Expect the usual: Philippe Starck designs, a flawless crowd, and yet another Asia de Cuba (800-652-5438; rooms from $325). Mass Appeal The new Mass moca is drawing plenty of New Yorkers to North Adams, and now they'll have a place to stay. The Porches Inn just opened across the street, and offers 50 guest rooms in six renovated 1890s row houses (413-298-5545; rooms from $150). Insider Trips The latest "City Secrets" guidebook has arrived just in time for that August trip to Tuscany. Like last year's indispensable Rome guide, the pocket-size Florence, Venice & the Towns of Italy offers insider tips from artists, writers, historians, and architects (The Little Bookroom; $19.95). Palms Away Vegas is getting a new mega-casino-resort: Look for the 500-room Palms -- with an IMAX theater, three-story spa, and Little Buddha Café -- to open by year's end (866-725-6773; rooms from $149).