Why you should visit these spots while they're hot.
Why now: Rolling greens, charming folk, and a stream of dry stout have always made Ireland an easy sell, and in the early 2000s, the outlook was particularly rosy as the Celtic Tiger poured money into the country, turning the unassuming little isle into one of Europe's richest technology hubs. Then fiscal fiasco hit hard, driving tech companies out and keeping American tourists at home. The Irish have responded—and how—with slashed airfares and cut rates, making this September, shoulder season, the perfect time to cash in. Besides, this month tends to be drier than most (especially near Dublin and Cork), and the erratic euro means a dollar's likely to go about 50 percent farther than it did this time last year.
How to go: During the gluttonous glory days, Irish milliner Philip Treacy brought five stars and Frette linens home; start your trip in the emerald grasses of Galway at The G hotel, Treacy's groovy glass box 50 miles from Shannon Airport on Ireland's quaint western coast. Bright, whimsical rooms are $215 some September nights, down from $550 (353-91-865200; theghotel.ie).
A more pastoral west coast option is Connemara's Delphi Mountain Resort, an eco-conscious lodge at the foot of the mossy Mweelrea and 12 Bens mountains. This month, four nights at the resort costs $420, down from $720 a year ago (delphimountainresort.com; 353-95-42208).
To experience the once-exorbitant capital city on the cheap, check into downtown Dublin's The Merrion: Catherine Zeta-Jones and Bobbi Brown are fans. A plush Georgian room that was $670 last spring is just $330 this month (353-1-603-0600; merrionhotel.com).
To meet somewhere in the middle, choose the landlocked Cavan countryside, and bed down at the 1,300-acre Radisson SAS Farnham Estate—which made the magazine's 2007 Hot List—for as little as $125, half the hotel's peak rate (353-49-437-7700; radisson.com). As for flights, at press time September round-trips from New York were starting at $440 on Aer Lingus (the average last year was $730), but fares could sink even lower if you wait until the last minute: Aer Lingus sale prices have plunged to $300 in recent months, forcing competitors like Continental to offer comparable deals. For great packages, visit aerlingus.com—the carrier partners with upscale hotels such as Dromoland Castle and Adare Manor.
The 411: Ireland's most stable economic marker? The cost of a pint of Guinness. All hell would break loose if the bar-bound were charged more than five euros (about $6.70) for a glass of the national brew—the norm has hovered around 4.50 euros ($6) for decades.
Why now: Not only has the Aussie dollar dipped 20 percent since summer 2008, but Richard Branson's V Australia entering the transpacific flight fray in February has caused fares from L.A. to Sydney to plummet below $500 at times — a bargain compared with 2008's $2,500 tab. Qantas has led the rock-bottom trend; check the Web site for wild clearance prices. Stay at downtown Sydney's mod Observatory Hotel, where a room that was once $530 is now just $175 (61-2-9256-2222; observatoryhotel.com.au), or at Melbourne's riverfront Langham Hotel in a $320 room that's dropped to $250 (61-3-8696-8888; melbourne.langhamhotels.com.au).
Why now: Surrounded by tumbleweed scapes and humbling red rocks, Arizona's super-spas are holy lands for the sun-worshipping spoiled. But being there at the right time can be costly; summer's too hot, and peak winter prices are steep. With average temps of 84, September is a happy medium. Hop to Paradise Valley before mid-month, stay at the Sanctuary Camelback Mountain Resort & Spa for $169 (peak price is $415), and get a $150 watsu aquatic massage for $100 (480-948-2100; sanctuaryoncamelback.com).
Honing your golf game? Hit the exceptional 36 holes at the Sonoran Desert's Four Seasons Scottsdale at Troon North, where weeknight room rates are down to $150 in early September — half the high-season rate — and the third night is free through December (480-515-5700; fourseasons.com/scottsdale). A September round-trip from New York has also dropped dramatically this year, from $640 to $300, thanks to Southwest's new LaGuardia flights (southwest.com).
Also on our radar
The weak euro and a low tide of tourists make Barcelona a bargain: The cost of a night at the new ABaC — which made our 2009 Hot List — is down 40 percent, to $280 (34-933-196-600; abacbarcelona.com), and the room rate at Murmuri has dropped from $628 to $250 (34-935-500-600; murmuri.com).