• Half-hour mud bath and hot-tub soak at Ti Kwen Glo Cho hot springs $10
• Three-and-a-half-hour whale- watching voyage with Anchorage Dive Center $50
• Visit to the cultural village of the original Kalinago islanders $8
Designed for plutocrats but available to all, especially in a recession.
The past year has not been kind to Monaco’s billionaire playboys, who’ve been hit by both the global economic downturn and the elimination of the principality’s status as an international tax haven. Bad news for Prince Albert and pals means good news for visitors, who can latch onto government-subsidized deals like free seven-minute helicopter transfers (typically $120 per person) from Nice (monacoauction.com). They’re part of a worthwhile membership deal called Le Club Diamant Rouge ($85 a year), which includes free entry to the Grand Casino (normally $25) and all museums ($90 value), and discounts on restaurants like Alain Ducasse’s three-Michelin-starred Louis XV. Rates at the five-star, splurge-worthy Hotel Metropole (from $323; metropole.com) have been slashed this year; ditto for the mod newcomer, the Ni Hotel (from $210; nihotel.com). Get dressed up to help celebrate the 100th anniversary of Serge Diaghilev’s esteemed Ballets Russes de Monte Carlo (from $24; performances through January 4), then stay up very late at the soon-to-open Black Legend club (black-legend.com), a slick homage to Motown and seventies funk.
• Afternoon snack of barbagiuans (fried dumplings stuffed with Swiss chard and Parmesan) at Maison Mullot bakery $3
• Daily Peugeot scooter rental at Holiday Bikes $37
• Two-hour make-your-own-perfume workshop at the Studio des Fragrances in Grasse $67
Cape Town, South Africa
A big hotel buildup in advance of the World Cup translates to airfare- offsetting winter discounts.
As it prepares to be overrun by soccer mobs during next summer’s World Cup, Cape Town is suddenly overwhelmed with high-end hotels in early trial mode. Properties like the oceanfront New Kings (from $210; newkingshotel.com), the boutique Cape Royale (from $308; caperoyale.co.za), and the centrally located 15 on Orange (from $332; africanpridehotels.com; opening December) currently cost a fraction of what they’ll be next June. The nightly savings will help make up for the four-figure airfares, as will the everyday cheapness of Africa’s most cosmopolitan city. After you’ve checked in, take the $21 cable car to the top of Table Mountain and grab a bird’s-eye view of the entire city. Down below, in Woodstock, is a booming art district, with galleries and boutiques filling the Old Biscuit Mill (theoldbiscuitmill.co.za). At the South African National Gallery, a retrospective of local architect Jo Noero traces South Africa’s monumental changes over the past three decades (ends November 30; iziko.org.za). Trendy Long Street gets the art-house crowd, with movies and martinis at the rooftop bar of the Grand Daddy hotel (granddaddy.co.za). Sample some of the city’s iconic street food—the curry-stuffed bread loaf known as bunny chow—next door at the Quarter (021-424-1175), which upgrades their version with delicacies like garlic mussels and venison.
• Scenic train ride to see wild penguins at Simon’s Point $3.40
• Sunday-evening rock and pop concerts at Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens $12.90
• Monthly sunset-watching parties atop Lion’s Head mountain free