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Whenever I’m asked what my favorite destination is, it’s hard to choose because everywhere is so different. The one place that I keep coming back to — and still want to go back to after each trip— is South Africa. I love animals and it’s so easy to do a safari or go see the penguins just outside of Cape Town. There’s so much history at Robben Island (where Nelson Mandela spent 18 of his 27 years in prison) and just a 45-minute drive outside the city, the Cape Winelands have some of the most beautiful landscapes I’ve ever seen — plus, there’s amazing wine and above all, it’s really, really cheap.
I’d been to the Cape Winelands before and this time we were put in touch with Ntsiki Biyela, a legendary South African winemaker who is an absolute hoot. She has a wonderful sense of humor and it was so much fun to film with her. I totally fell in love with the Stellekaya Pinotage and had a bunch of bottles shipped back home. Check out Episode 7, below, for a taste of our Stellekaya Winery tour and to see why I love South Africa so much.
I’ve stayed at the Hilton Cape Town City Centre and the 12 Apostles Resort & Spa (just outside the city) on previous trips to South Africa, which were both nice, but this time I chose The Westin Cape Town, a nice hotel with a great lounge and refurbished rooms. It’s also a pretty good deal thanks to SPG points with rates starting at about $243 or 10k Starpoints per night in April — I was also able to take advantage of the 5th night free perk, which is always nice. It’s worth noting that the US dollar is super strong right now, so you should always do the math to see whether it makes sense to use points or to just pay for the rate.
The Westin Cape Town is pretty swanky — although it only offers free wine instead of an open bar — but on the bright side, it’s good South African wine. They do have snacks available, although you do have to pay for anything substantial, and it can also get kind of crowded when they start seating for dinner, so plan ahead. Those are really my only constructive points about the property. There’s also a great breakfast spread and really, really nice staff who are always there if you need anything, which is what keeps me coming back to The Westin Cape Town. Just note that the hotel isn’t in the heart of the city (it overlooks Cape Town Harbour and is close to the Convention Center), so at night you’ll probably want to take a taxi or an Uber instead of walking around, but in general, it’s a pretty secure location.
If you’ve got a week to spend in the area, I would definitely recommend getting out of town and spending at least two nights in Stellenbosch and the South African Winelands staying at bed and breakfasts. Yes, it’s a bit of a drive — about 45 minutes or so back to the city — but it’s nice to stay out there and Stellenbosch is so gorgeous.
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There’s no telling how much longer these cards will be around and available for new applications because of the Marriott takeover, so now might just be the perfect time to apply. Apart from hotel redemptions, you can transfer Starpoints to over 30 airline partners, and now also transfer points from Starwood to Marriott Rewards at a 1:3 ratio, opening up even more redemption options.
- Earn 25,000 bonus Starpoints® after you use your new Card to make $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months.
- Earn 2 Starpoints® for each dollar of eligible purchases spent on the Card at participating SPG® & Marriott Rewards® hotels. Earn 1 Starpoint for all other purchases.
- No Foreign Transaction Fees on International purchases.
- Receive free in-room, premium internet access. Booking requirements apply.
- Redeem Starpoints® at over 1,300 participating hotels and resorts in over 100 countries and for flights on more than 150 airlines with SPG flights, all with no blackout dates.
- $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95.
- Terms and Conditions apply.
- See Rates & Fees