What $500 Buys In...

Steven Noble

Competition among airlines flying to Sydney is fierce, with one-way fares from New York having recently dropped as low as $360….And the value of the American dollar has risen against the Australian one by almost 20 percent in the last year….In Cape Town the new ultraluxe One&Only resort has some of the biggest buzz (and highest rates) in the city….But the rand has fallen against the dollar, making much of the metropolis feel like it’s on sale….In San Francisco there’s no exchange rate to take advantage of, of course, and hotel occupancy remains fairly constant….But nightly room rates have fallen, and hotels are offering a wealth of deals….Even as hot restaurants, chic shops, and intriguing museums continue to open.

San Francisco

Almost four 50-minute Crio Glacial facials at Acqua di Roma. The spa, a sister to the Palazzo Ben Essere outside Rome, brings treatments and products from the Italian brand Intégrée to the States for the first time. acquadiroma.com

About 1.5 century-old handblown French glass jars from Obsolete, an outpost of the beloved L.A. gallery of the same name. Specializing in unusual European antiques and contemporary art, it arrived in the Portrero Hill area in May. obsoleteinc.com

Exactly 2.5 nights in a corner junior suite at the Hotel Frank, which debuted in April in a 100-year-old building near Union Square. The St. Regis it’s not, but the service is pleasant, and the Deco-tinged redo provides whimsy. hotelfranksf.com

About 19 orders of duck cassoulet at RN74, chef Michael Mina’s new restaurant and wine bar, which opened in April in the city’s SoMa neighborhood. (It takes its name from the road that passes through the heart of Burgundy’s wine country.) michaelmina.net

Five behind-the-scenes Platinum Tours of Golden Gate Park’s new Renzo Piano–designed California Academy of Sciences, with special access to the planetarium, gems and minerals vault, indoor rainforest, and 2.5-acre green roof. calacademy.org

Sixteen “Gold Rush Wine & Cheese Flights” at Press Club, the year-old wine bar and shop with vintages from eight boutique northern California wineries, including Pahlmeyer and Miner Family Vineyards. pressclubsf.com


Forty-eight espresso martinis, a blend of frozen espresso and walnut liqueur topped with vanilla foam, at Bacco Wine Bar Pasticceria, a favorite of Sydney media types since it opened in February. bacco.com.au

Two nights in a Superior Studio Suite at the Quest Potts Point hotel. It may have recently changed its name and ownership—it was The Storrier until December—but it retains its Art Deco aesthetic and fashionable following. questpottspoint.com.au

Two premium stall seats at the Sydney Opera House for Mozart’s Così fan tutte, directed by Sydney native Jim Sharman, cowriter and director of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. sydneyoperahouse.com

Two Imperial massages at the Chifley Potts Point Hotel’s new Body Inc Bathhouse & Spa, formerly the beloved Korean Ginseng Bathhouse. Two therapists work in tandem during the treatment, which can be paired with four-hour access to the baths. bodyinc.com.au

One hundred and four palate-cooling plates of pickled cabbage and radish at Spice Temple, a just-opened chile-heavy Chinese spot from star Aussie chef Neil Perry. rockpool.com.au

Exactly 1.5 hand-painted silk scarves from the new collection of local designer Akira Isogawa, who’s known for his kimono-inspired creations. akira.com.au

Cape Town

Forty-two La Lombatella hanger steaks from Carne-SA, a rustic-modern carnivore’s heaven serving lamb, game, and beef raised on chef Giorgio Nava’s farms in the Great Karoo region of South Africa. carne-sa.com

Two nights in one of the stylish and comfortably appointed Airstream trailers on the roof of the Grand Daddy Hotel. granddaddy.co.za

Entrance for 40 people to Chevelle, a labyrinthine tri-level “superclub” (more a bar, lounge, and nightclub in one) in the East City. It’s been attracting Cape Town’s jet set since it opened in February. $ chevelle.co.za

One lithograph from the socially satiric black-and-white “Shame” series by South African artist Brett Murray. He’s represented by Johannesburg’s Goodman Gallery, which debuted a satellite outpost at the new One&Only here in April. goodman-gallery.com

Four “Vine Secret Vintage Experiences,” the signature two-hour vinotherapy treatment at the Mount Nelson Hotel’s Librisa Spa, which includes a crushed grape-seed exfoliation, body wrap, and facial. mountnelson.co.za

Half a day of kayaking on Boulder’s Beach for two people, a new offering from travel outfitter Heritage Tours Private Travel. Paddlers see penguins aplenty and the occasional Cape fur seal. htprivatetravel.com

As of late June, one Australian dollar = $0.81 and one rand = $0.13.