My life in travel: Michael Owen

'You either love or hate Dubai, but you can't be bored for one minute'

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The Independent Online

Michael Owen is an ambassador for the British Champions Series, which starts on 3-4 May at Newmarket's Rowley Mile Racecourse with the Guineas Festival (

First holiday memory?

A family trip to Ibiza. It was my only holiday abroad when I was young because my family weren't too well off. In fact, we were quite selective about who came. I've got a big family so my mum took myself and my two sisters, but my dad and my brothers stayed behind. It was a beach holiday, spent playing on the sand. We were left to do what we wanted. It was a pretty good feeling being abroad and having a free rein.

Favourite place in the British Isles?

Abersoch in Wales. I've got a friend who has a lovely place there, which he's let me use a couple of times. I live in Chester now, so Abersoch is only an hour and a half down the coast.

Best holiday?

Dubai. You either love it or hate it, but you're guaranteed good weather all year round. They do everything bigger and better. If you ask my four kids where they want to go on holiday, they would scream "Dubai!". You can't be bored for one minute.

What have you learnt from your travels?

I'm not really made for relaxing holidays. I like to be up and about and playing with the kids. We had a great holiday in Barbados one year, where we rented a villa that had a boat. Every day, we were either out fishing or out jet-skiing. It was a beach holiday, but active as well.

Ideal travelling companion?

My kids, because they make the holidays. If it wasn't for them, I'd be sitting on the beach bored. I like to take my dad too, because he's always good to have a laugh with and a nice tipple or two. I can talk to him about everything.

Beach bum, culture vulture or adrenalin junkie?

Certainly not culture. I went to Australia for the first time in November, to watch my horse run in the Melbourne Cup, which was a fantastic combination. We stayed in the middle of the city and I took my parents and three mates. Watching my horse was great; we did a little bit of sightseeing and we ate in some fabulous restaurants.

Greatest travel luxury?

I'm pretty basic, as long as I've got my telephone. I'm not one of these people that can switch off and be away for a week. I feel as if I'm missing out on something. My phone will always be in my pocket. I'd be lost without it.

Where has seduced you?

Disneyland. It's one place I want to take the kids. I went as an 18-year-old and my kids are getting to an age now where I think they'll remember it for the rest of their lives.

Best hotel?

The Guangzhou Marriott Hotel Tianhe in China. It really blew me away. I was there on business, playing five-a-side football with some ex-footballers. I've stayed in quite a few nice hotels over the years, but this was absolutely fabulous. The restaurants were the main feature, but it had lovely pools and gyms, too.

Worst travel experience?

Flying to Australia. It was a great travel experience and we flew business, but just the sheer length of the flight was still a killer.

Best meal abroad?

There's a place in Portugal that a lot of people will know about in Quinta do Lago called Gigi's. It's a little seafood hut on the beach. The food is absolutely beautiful. Very basic seafood and salad, but it's all so fresh. You see fishermen carrying the fish out of the sea and then whatever they've caught is on the menu.

Where next?

We're going to Portugal for eight days when the kids break up for summer. After that? Well, I haven't been able to do anything extreme during my time as a professional footballer, so things like motorbikes and skiing and horse riding were all out of the question. Now I'm retired, I want to book a skiing holiday at some point in the next 12 months.