Best Budget Travel Destinations for 2008

Town and Country magazine reveals the ultimate 2008 hot spots.

Jan. 12, 2008 — -- Dreaming of an unforgettable vacation that won't cost a fortune?

Whether you long to hit the slopes, explore the jungles of Asia or just lounge on the beach in the Caribbean, Town and Country Travel magazine has a destination for you.

Editor Heidi Mitchell joined "Good Morning America Weekend" to share her picks of 2008's ultimate destinations. The best part is these up and coming hot spots are still relatively tourist-free.

2008 Ski Destination:

Lake Placid, N.Y.

Whiteface Lodge/$355 Night

Find perfect winter skiing and stay at this luxury ski lodge nestled in the high peaks of the Adirondacks of New York state.

Whiteface Mountain is surrounded by thousands of acres of Adirondacks forest, and is the site of two Winter Olympic Games. It has by far the greatest vertical in the East as well as a gentler side, with a sheltered trail system for families and beginners. Unlike some tony resorts, there's no "attitude" here — people are down to earth and unpretentious.

The town of Lake Placid is the ultimate winter village, offering restaurants, shopping and other winter sports (like ice skating and bobsledding). For $355 you can stay in a junior suite at the Whiteface Lodge, which includes breakfast for two guests. Amenities include a spa, fitness center, year-round indoor/outdoor heated swimming pool, indoor and outdoor hot pools, four-season ice skating rink, outdoor cigar and cognac lounge, 54-seat movie theater, snowshoe/cross-country ski trails and more.

Best time to go: now for the skiing!

2008's Wine Destination

Willamette Valley, Ore.

Black Walnut Inn: $200/night

A bit farther north than the wine country of Northern California, check out this wine destination, always popular with foodies.

In the valley formed by the Willamette River (which includes Portland and extends more than 100 miles south), great soil and mild weather come together in harmony. Many people know the name Willamette because they've heard that the area produces some of the country's best wines, especially pinot noirs. From Portland, it's less than 30 miles south to the first major winery and the wineries are open all year.

The best ones to go to are Archery Summit, Argyle, Carlton Winemakers Studio, Domaine Drouhin, Domaine Serene, Penner-ash and Sokol Blosser. You'll find phone numbers and directions at

At the Tuscan-style hilltop Black Walnut Inn & Vineyard rooms start at $200. They also have wine-focused packages and wine-tasting dinners available.

If you're staying in Portland try the Ace Hotel, a friendly, urbanized version of the welcoming country inn. Rates start at $95.

Best time to go: spring, summer and fall to enjoy the outdoors.

2008's Caribbean Destination:

Turks & Caicos, Caribbean

Regent Palms: $325/night

Turks & Caicos is the newest Caribbean destination, and somewhat still "undiscovered." Cruise ships and action are basically confined to Grand Turk; more secluded accommodations can be found on the other islands. More direct flights from around the country mean that you could be on the beach by noon!

Accommodations range from budget to luxurious. For a family try the Beaches Resort, $500/night, all-inclusive for a family of four or the Regent Palms, $325/night where kids younger than 12 stay free. Couples may prefer the Grace Bay Club, where all 51 rooms face the water and start at $500.

Best time to go: avoid hurricane season (late summer/early fall).

2008's Old World Destination

Cork County, Ireland

Capella Castlemartyr: 250 Euros/night

Go back in time in the mythical rolling green hills of Cork County, Ireland.

Ireland is much more tourist-friendly now than in years past. Ireland is reaping the rewards of the dot-com boom — high-tech companies in the country have led to a real-estate and tech boom. The country's increased prosperity has been reinvested, especially in the tourism industry and the result has been great food, roads, hotels.

Ireland now offers much more than just golf. Cork County is a miniature Dublin, on the water. Cork has a microclimate, palm trees and surfing! The locals call cork the "real" capital of Ireland and the surrounding countryside is full of storybook towns.

Try the Capella Castlemartyr, a 17th-century manor house on 220 acres that just opened adjacent to a 1,000-year-old ruined castle. Rooms start at 250 Euros.

Best time to go: spring and fall for best prices and fewest crowds.

2008's Undiscovered Destination

Laos, Asia

La Residence Phou Vao: $254/night

Unlike most international destinations these days, the U.S. dollar still goes a long way here.

Laos is one of the last undiscovered spots in Southeast Asia. The country is landlocked, so it has been protected from the development that has taken place in neighboring countries. Laos is what Thailand was 50 years ago.

Try La Residence Phou Vao in Luang Prabang, which was bought by Orient-Express in 2006. It's the best hotel in Laos; the buildings have red-tiled roofs, rosewood floors and furniture, and bathrooms are done in marble, wood and terrazzo. The hotel will also arrange cooking lessons. Double rooms from $254.

Best time to go: High season for tourism is November through March and the month of August, when weather conditions are favorable.

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