Mane event: early starts and lazy days on safari / Getty
'Holidays are the highlight of my year'

Former Olympic athlete Sally Gunnell is a family ambassador for Royal Caribbean International (

First holiday memory?

Hemsby in Norfolk. We used to go down to my auntie's cabin. I remember having freedom from quite a young age. We were allowed to go to the doughnut shop and play on the beach for hours.

Favourite place in the British Isles?

Devon. I like the coastline around Saunton Sands and Ilfracombe. My boys love surfing and body boarding, so we've had some great trips down there, at all times of the year, wrapped up warm and taking the dogs on the beaches.

Best holiday?

I've just come back from a great holiday where we did a cruise. We took some friends and had the most fun time in Haiti, Jamaica and Mexico.

What have you learnt from your travels?

Holidays are very much the highlight of my year. It's about taking the time to sit down and reflect on the moment, rather than always charging on to the next thing.

Worst hotel?

Before you start to make it as an athlete, you go to all these races in Poland, Bulgaria and Russia. We stayed in some really bad hotels. I remember one, in St Petersburg, where I pulled back the sheet and there was so much static electricity that I got a shock. It was a very plain, boring room and there was nothing on the menu.

Best hotel?

I did an event where they put me up in the Savoy in London, when it had just been done up. We had a view over the River Thames and a lovely suite. I remember feeling really special.

Ideal travelling companion?

My husband, Jon, and our three boys: Finley, 15, Luca, 12 and Marley, eight. I keep telling them how spoilt they are. We've been to the Maldives, where we snorkelled all day, every day. We've taken them on safari to South Africa. We've been to Dubai. We've been to America lots of times. They are very lucky.

Where has seduced you?

Jon and I went on a safari to a place called Shompole Lodge in Kenya. It was the most beautiful building and I loved the routine of getting up early, finding the animals and then lounging around in the afternoons. We saw all the Big Five; it was just really romantic.

Favourite run?

A couple of years ago at Christmas, we went out to Florida and I did a run on Christmas Day and saw loads of manatees. I ran back up Vero Beach and I just remember thinking "this is my best run ever".

Best meal abroad?

On our honeymoon. We were on a yacht in the Caribbean and one night we dropped anchor off Beef Island and had to walk up a little winding hill to the restaurant at the top. It was beautifully lit up and I ate lobster thermidor for the first time.

Where next?

I've never been to Thailand. It's one thing I've always wanted to do.