You can’t really say opulent indulgence without almost immediately thinking of Monaco, that tiny sovereign city-state situated on the French Riviera, surrounded by France and which is only 2.02 km2 large – home to 37,800 people, 30% of which are millionaires!
Thanks to its rather dubiously lax tax laws, Monaco is known as a playground for the rich and famous, and in recent times has also become a major banking center, activily seeking to diversify its economy into services and small, high-value-added, non-polluting industries.
And then of course there is the matter of Monte Carlo, a ward situated on a prominent escarpment at the base of the Maritime Alps along the French Riviera, and which is home to the world-famous Place du Casino, the gambling center which has made Monte Carlo “an international byword for the extravagant display and reckless dispersal of wealth”.
The Monte Carlo Casino is of course an icon. If you have money, or have won a lot of money, then this is without a doubt THE place to see and be seen in Monaco.
Opened in 1863, the Monte Carlo Casino gambling and entertainment complex has been operating for 153 years. It includes a casino, the Grand Théâtre de Monte Carlo, and the office of Les Ballets de Monte Carlo.
The world famous casino (whose worldwide recognition owes a lot to Ian Fleming’s 007 spy, James Bond of course) is as you would expect a thing of exquisite opulence and beauty. Art, architecture, sculptures, class – it really can’t put a single foot wrong.
So, as you might suspect then, the Monte Carlo Casino is home to all the major high end gambling games, including the likes of Roulette, Stud poker, Blackjack, Trente et Quarante, Craps, and Baccarat.
(And yes, for the less sophisticated there is of course Video poker and Slot machines available).
To sum up, if you have the money and the inclination to chance losing some of it, you almost certainly should try and visit this European gambling mecca at least one time in your life!
Sun International’s GrandWest Casino and Entertainment World, apart from being the only casino in Cape Town, is one of the largest entertainment destination of its kind in South Africa. It offers a wonderland of around-the-clock entertainment, making it comparable to something that you may find find all the way over in Las Vegas!
Officially opened in December 2000, GrandWest is technically located in the suburb of Goodwood (on the old Goodwood Showgrounds), thus making it central to both the Southern and Northern Suburbs of Cape Town. It is a massive complex, featuring two hotels, a kids entertainment world (with arcade), a concert venue (The Grand Arena), loads of restaurants (12 in total, not counting the additional fast food court!), an Olympic-size ice skating rink, a bowling alley, a movie cinema, lots of conference facilities, exhibition space (SunExhibits), and of course – its massive casino!
A pretty cool design element of the GrandWest complex is its attempt at recreating historic Cape Town facades – in fact it recreates more than a kilometre of the old Mother City, which means a lot of grand, Victorian and Cape Dutch styled architecture, complete with a recreation of the 1652 Fort of Good Hope and a moored, fully restored tall-ship, the Victoria II!.
Given all the entertainment options, GrandWest is quite a popular attraction in Cape Town, which in turn means a LOT of daily visitors. (So if you’re not so fond of crowds, you could always just play online casino games instead!)
However, if people are your thing, then the casino is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and offers both smoking and non-smoking gaming facilities. The floor hosts 2,563 smart card slot machines, and more than 79 premium table games that cater for pretty much every casino game imaginable. There is also an exclusive gaming area (Salon Prive) for Platinum MVG members, and a Gambling Information Centre – a great resource for first time gamblers who would like to learn the ropes!
Related Link: GrandWest
So finally, Chantelle and I took advantage of Caledon Hotel, Casino & Spa’s long running promotion, The Real Deal (previously known as The Reel Deal, changed I suspect because most people – including us – failed to spot the pun first time around).
We headed out early Thursday morning (having left the kids to sleep over with Chantelle’s parents the previous evening), stopping for breakfast first at Fred & Max in Elgin (a failure, as it turns out that they do in fact NOT actually serve breakfast), followed by a fantastic breakfast at The Pool Room at Oak Valley (a success, because it turns out that they do in fact serve breakfast).
For R125 each, we received R100’s worth of casino credits for some slot machine play, a choice of selected meals from the daVinci restaurant, and free access to the Spa’s natural warm mineral pools – in other words quite a decent deal if you ask me!
Having stayed at the Caledon Hotel once or twice before (many years ago at the infancy of our relationship), we were looking quite forward to spending some time in the warm water pools again, but in the end we decided to first get the gambling out of the way – neither of us being particularly fond of casinos just by the way.
As per usual, the slot machines didn’t work out very well for me, but Chantelle had a great time, making a tidy little profit on The Queen of the Nile game – meaning that she walked out there with jangling pockets and a huge smile on her face. (But no photos, as those are strictly forbidden in the casino. They are literally on you as quick as a flash, as Chantelle discovered much to her surprise!)
I on the other hand had by then long since wandered out of the casino area and had ended up in the incredibly poorly stocked kids game arcade, happily playing some ancient Lethal Weapon pinball for entertainment!
The natural warm water pools were an absolute treat as expected, with us making sure to take a dip in pretty much all the pools on offer, including the Victorian Bath, the floatation pool, and the small, elevated, but unbearably hot Khoi San pools!
In the end, we spent the majority of our day in the pools, our muscles soaking in the warm, mineral enriched goodness and leaving us relaxed, light-headed, and content with the world!
(Also, it’s well worth after you are all dried off and dressed, just to sit for a few minutes in the tranquil Zen Garden space. Perfect spot for some reflection and quiet time!)
We finished up the day by taking advantage of our free food offer, and as for the meal at daVinci, well, it’s not fantastic of course, but that said, it’s not bad either – and when you think how much you have paid for it, you simply can’t help finishing up the day feeling rather chuffed with what really is a decent deal.
So yeah, I enjoyed my day and Chantelle certainly seemed to as well – after all, she posed for these silly photos at the end of our adventure, meaning that she must have been in a good/silly mood!
So a day well spent, and with our definitely worth it little break from life now over and done with, it was the long trip back to Bellville to pick up the kids (thanks Oupa and Ouma) and then head straight back home.
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“A Busman’s Holiday: Checking out Online Gambling – A coder’s first impression of the quality of online gambling available in South Africa” by jonmott
Every now and again it is really nice to forget about the day job. It is nice to take off the professional filters and enjoy a bit of time online. No worries about coding, integrating the UX into a job or anything even remotely concerned with functionality. Sometimes it is really nice to just kick back, log on and do a bit of leisure browsing just for the heck of it. All work and no play does nobody any good, does it?
Taking a peek at online gambling in South Africa
OK, just because I am a responsible grown up I am going to add a bit of a rider in here. It goes like this.
The legal status of online gambling in South Africa is a bit hazy. But the bottom line is that individuals inside South Africa who choose to spend their hard earned Rand at sites that are domiciled elsewhere are doing nothing wrong. In effect the law relates to the suppliers and not us consumers. When I have not got my work hat on – like now – I am one of the little guys. Now that is out of the way, let me tell you that I enjoyed a spot of leisure surfing the other day. As I was home alone, I thought, ‘why not see how things look from the other side of the fence?’
It was a busman’s holiday, if you like. So, I spent a little time hopping around a few sites, seeing what they had to offer and how they felt purely from a user’s point of view. For those of you who like to know the facts, I spent time principally at Gambling Africa, a leading gaming portal, and Fhats Online Casino. This is not a review, so I am not going to get all technical.
I have to say that, having cut myself some slack, I was pretty impressed. Not just at the way everything stacked up technically, but in the way the user experience was really well done. Smooth, intuitive, clear, punchy and, above all, geared towards making things enjoyable. Heck, there are even Marvel superheroes to be found lurking amidst the different games and promotions. You know I am a sucker for an old-fashioned superhero.
Now I reckon that I am a pretty tough sell when it comes to anything that involves even a whiff of coding. So, I do not say this lightly but what is available to South African punters is pretty impressive. And I am not just saying that out of patriotism or because I won (I was up by only a few pennies by the time I quit). There are one or two things I would have done differently (OK, so I did have a peek at some of the coding – I could not help it). But there is some good stuff out there. Which reminds me, I had better get back to work! Happy days!
Saturday evening I found myself dropping Jessica off with Mommy who was on work duty and heading out along the N2 towards Bellville, where I made the arduous trek through to the De Akkers complex (located very much in my old home-base stomping grounds) to join up with the Grangers Two, as well as anyone else who would dare, for an evening of Poker, Blackjack and of course snacks. Lots and lots of snacks.
Evan and Natasha has been kind enough to host this evening of card-based debauchery, and I managed to pleasantly surprise myself by navigating all the way up to their back sliding door for the very first time without getting lost along the way. Joining us for the evening were the usual suspects of Damen and Michelle, and Karl and Trish, but missing in action was Mr. Brown who was struck down with some mysterious plague/virus/flu, Ryan who is currently gallivanting around Pinnacle Point, wifey who was of course at work, and Dean and Zania who were stopped dead in their tracks thanks to the age old problem of not finding a babysitter in time.
We pretty much got stuck in straight away, with Evan hauling out a nicely boosted poker deck they had picked up from Mr. Price Home (I know, weird place to find something like that, but it is true, I’ve seen them stock these sort of party game things before!), and after a fairly lengthy tutorial session in the hopes that we’d all quickly pick up to play, buy-in money was deposited into a winnings tin (only 10 bucks a piece this time around – didn’t want to scare anyone away!) and the evening went underway.
This was my first time playing Texas hold ’em style poker, and to be honest it has been years since I last played poker, evidenced by an early round “BooBoo” where I happily bet the pot up high, content in the knowledge I had an awesome, almost unbeatable hand consisting of a straight – but with only FOUR playing cards! D’oh! Talk about a rookie mistake, particularly when I was so cavalier in revealing my hand and reaching for the chips before being beaten back by the horde! :)
The use of the clever small blind and large blind with the blind amounts doubling after every few minutes or so was a stroke of genius, because it helped propel the game forward and ensured that no one could ever just sit on their chips by folding every round without costing them anything in the process.
As it turned though, this enjoyable back and forth of chips lasted a good two or so hours, with the final fight turning out to be a catfight between the two pregnant ladies, Michelle in the one corner and Natasha in the other. In the end the blind was doubling just about every minute, and with the stakes at an all time high, Natasha took the crown, quickly taking possession of the money tin before Evan could swindle some of her winnings away from her! :)