Where are the best trips to be booking right now? Our monthly Where to Go column tells you the smartest places to go each month for savings, special events, and all around great experiences. Here’s what’s hot for August.
For the Epic Long-haul Trip: Singapore
If you’ve yet to cross Singapore off the bucket list, now’s the time. Characterized by fantastic street food, urban greenery, and of course diverse culture, this Asian destination has become increasingly popular over the years. And August is one of the best times of the year to create an epic itinerary, thanks to the plentiful events packed into the month. Dive right into Buddhist and folk traditions during Ghost Month, when you’ll see locals making food offerings on the streets and hosting live stage performances meant to entertain the spirits. On the last two weekends of the month, street performers, local and international artists, and interactive light installations take over the city for the Singapore Night Festival. And that’s not to mention the International Festival of the Arts, running through most of August and into September, that hosts 36 theater, dance, and music performances for just $25-$50 SGD ($19-$37 USD) each.
Our Top Budget Destinations of 2014 feature already covered how Singapore can generally make an affordable trip — especially if you know how to get off the beaten path — and it gets even easier with deals honoring the Golden Jubilee. Through August, a whole host of hotels are offering third night free promotions, including boutiques like Link Hotel, which averages $115 per night with the deal. Even posh digs like Swissotel and the Shangri-La start from $169 and $245 (non-refundable and advance purchase rates) respectively. One exception: Avoid the days around the annual National Day, when Singaporeans book up all the hotels for a view of the fireworks.
For Some Zen: Arizona
Closer to home, Arizona is the veritable spa state of the country — perfect for those who end up needing a vacation from their summer vacation. Here, blazing red rock landscapes pull you into another world, and wide open spaces allow your mind to wander free. And while a weekend of world-class pampering would usually dent your wallet deeply, resort rates plummet to entice travelers to brave the summer heat. (Not that the sizzle of the sun matters when you’re ensconced in the spa or dipping into the pool.) In August, it’s the norm to be able to book a AAA Four-Diamond resort for half of what a peak season stay would cost, and you’ll find plenty of nightly rates hovering around $100 at many top-rated hotels.
For just a few options: Check into the Five-Diamond Fairmont Princess in central Scottsdale ($136); the legendary Canyon Ranch in mountain-fringed Tucson ($254); Westin La Paloma at the Catalina Foothills (from $104); or L’Auberge de Sedona ($199) and Amara Resort & Spa ($229) in mystical Sedona. With the amount you save, you’ll be able to spring for an extra treatment or two guilt-free.
For Some Action: Park City, UT
In an effort to raise its profile beyond the ski season, Park City has been bolstering its summer programming with vigor. So don’t let all its ski cachet overshadow the 400 miles of hiking trails, 3,000-foot-long alpine slides, and up-and-coming distillery scene that’s all ripe for exploring come summer. In these warmer months, the mountains also come alive with music, and, yes, most of the events are free. Three nights a week, you’ll find no-cost performances at Grand Valley Bank, Newpark, and Canyons Resort — in addition to the open-air Deer Valley Music Festival, featuring the likes of Kristin Chenoweth and Diana Krall in the first two weeks of August.
Rest assured: As the slope bunnies leave town, rates drop fall, too. Take the iconic Waldorf Astoria for example. Except for the first week in August, where a few nights top $300, most rooms start from $249 or $259 a night — a very small fraction of the $900-plus price tags in winter.
For the Beach Life: The Caribbean
August is right the in sweet spot for Caribbean travel. Snowbirds are no longer flooding the islands to escape the cold, and nor are spring breakers crowding in for a cheap getaway. Hotel prices are dropping both in response to demand and in preparation for hurricane season — though the worst rains usually won’t have hit quite yet, particularly at the beginning of the month. And 2015 is an especially excited summer for the region. In the Bahamas, a relatively new airport (with customs pre-clearance) has ushered in the next era of tourism. In Puerto Rico, the Vanderbilt Condado, just reopened after 10 long years, is attempting to bring San Juan back on the cool map in Puerto Rico. St. Lucia, Barbados, and Curacao all have recently received new direct flights from New York.
If you are concerned about the weather, check out our risk factor rundown from last year, where you’ll get a sense of the great deals to be had, too. Or there are always the few prime spots that lie outside of the hurricane belt, like adventurous yet urban Curacao.