MELINDA MESSENGER, 38
Last year the TV presenter split from hubby Wayne after a 10-year marriage,
but they reunited eight months later. Here she reveals how a Caribbean
cruise refloated their love boat.
“When Wayne and I got back together, we wanted to spend some quality time with
each other and our children Morgan, nine, Flynn, seven and Evie, five.
I finished the Dancing On Ice tour in May, and we spent three nights at the
all-inclusive Almond Casuarinas Hotel in Barbados, followed by a seven-night
One morning, Wayne and Morgan swam with giant turtles, while Flynn, Evie and I
watched – it was just lovely. Later at the ocean-front Reef restaurant,
Wayne and I ate curried mussels, and reflected on what we could have lost.
During the cruise we passed through Dominica, home to the famous Emerald
Falls, but I wasn’t brave enough to dive into the freezing water! The
holiday was amazing and brought us all together – now Wayne and I are more
in love than ever.”
Three nights at the Almond Casuarinas, followed by seven nights on the
Carnival Victory cruise ship costs from £1,299pp including Virgin Atlantic
JENNIE MCALPINE, 25
The Corrie actress reveals how her Irish roots keep drawing her back to
“I took my dad, Tom, to the Irish Film And Television Awards in February, and
afterwards we stayed on in Dublin for a three-day break. My nana was Irish
and lots of my relatives live there, so I feel right at home.
We stayed at the Morrison Hotel, which has a beautiful view of the River
Liffey. During the day we wandered around the Temple Bar area, home to the
city’s markets, which I loved – I can’t resist a good bargain.
I even tried oysters – Ireland’s famous for them – but while Dad washed his
down with Guinness, I enjoyed mine with a cup of tea!
At night we found lively bars like Gogartys, and listened to Irish folk music
until the wee small hours. That’s what I call a night out!”
Aer Lingus flies return to Dublin from the UK for £50pp (Aerlingus.com).
Rooms at The Morrison Hotel cost from £86 a night (Morrisonhotel.ie).
KATHY LETTE, 50
The author jetted to Phuket for 10 wild and wonderful days off ‘mum duty’.
“My sister Jenny lives in Australia and to mark her 50th birthday last year we
met up in Thailand – my first holiday without hubby Geoffrey and my kids
Julius, 18, and Georgie, 16.
After an obligatory Thai massage, we went on a sea-canoeing safari, tried
shark and squid fishing, as well as swimming with stingrays, buffalo riding
and elephant trekking – being photographed
next to elephants is sensationally slimming! I almost plucked up the courage
to go bungee jumping, but I figured motherhood was dangerous enough so I
went shopping instead. I got some gorgeous dresses made by a local tailor
for just a few pounds.
We stayed at the Sri Panwa resort, where we had a private infinity pool and a
villa made of glass. We lay in bed at night and the moon shone down on us – bliss.
When I got home, the kids greeted me like Labradors – all wet kisses and hugs.
I should go away more often!”
To Love, Honour And Betray is published September 10 (Bantam Press, £6.99).
Flights to Phuket cost from £519 with Cathay Pacific (Cathaypacific.com).
Villas at Sri Panwa cost £580 per night (Sripanwa.com).
NATALIE PINKHAM, 29
The TV presenter thawed out from ITV’s Dancing On Ice with some sun and
snow in Dubai.
“After all the training I’d done for the show, I needed a holiday, so my
friend Caroline Greenwood [who’s married to rugby star Will] and I flew out
After sizzling on the beach for a few days we needed to cool off, and Dubai is
home to the third largest
indoor ski slope in the world – it was like a winter wonderland! Dubai is
crazy – where else would you find the excesses of the seven-star Burj Al
Arab hotel? You have to book two months ahead just for afternoon tea there!
We had some great girlie nights in the hotel bars, which are the only places
allowed to serve alcohol.”
Flights to Dubai cost from £370 with Emirates (Emirates.com). Rooms at the
Grosvenor House cost from £113 per night (Grosvenorhouse-dubai.com).
ALISON HAMMOND, 34
A girlie holiday to Tunisia changed 34-year-old TV presenter Alison
Hammond’s life forever
“I jumped at the chance to book a cheap, last minute, all-inclusive holiday to
Hammamet with my friend Emma in 1998. In my early 20s all I cared about was
sunbathing, beaches and fun.
And there was certainly that at the three-star Saphir Hotel. Every night there
was entertainment and on day three I volunteered to help the rep out because
she felt ill.
I immediately had everyone singing and dancing along to Eddy Grant’s Gimme
Hope Joanna and afterwards the manager asked if I wanted a job. Three days
later, I flew back to the UK, quit my job and returned to Tunisia to start
as a holiday rep with Airtours.
That job became the centre of my life and the other reps my family. We even
nicknamed ourselves ‘TunEnders’ because each day was like an episode of
EastEnders. One day I nearly drowned being pulled along by a speed boat and
another afternoon some kids set fire to sunlounger cushions.
From 9am to midnight I entertained guests then I’d go clubbing until 4am
before starting all over again. Looking back, I don’t know how I did it!
On my days off I visited the Sahara Desert to a place called Matmata, where
Star Wars was filmed.
I also spent hours at the medina, the huge local market, where I perfected
bartering. I bought all sorts, from slippers to silver jewellery. I loved
getting to know the culture, and to thank me for my interest in their
country I often got invited to families’ homes for dinner. Most locals
speak fairly good English but I learnt Tunisian because I figured it would
be good for pulling men!
I had such a brilliant experience and because I loved the job so much, I
returned every summer until I joined Big Brother in 2002. If it hadn’t been
for the show, I’d probably still be there now!
I returned to Tunisia most recently last year with my son, Aedan, four, to see
his Grandparents. Aedan’s dad is Tunisian and we met in Manchester – see, I
knew the language would be handy!”
MEG MATTHEWS, 43
Newly engaged Meg Mathews, 43, headed to Poland’s funkiest hotel for a spot
of wedding inspiration.
“I’d spent months planning my visit to Blow Up Hall 50:50, a new art hotel in
Poznan, Poland – but what I hadn’t realised was that by the time I went in
May, I’d be engaged and my fiancé, Peter Sidell, would be coming too!
He proposed a few weeks before, at the top of the Empire State Building in New
York, so at the last minute, I asked Peter to join me and my best friend,
stylist Nick Ede on our trip.
Peter and Nick had never met before, so the holiday meant they could really
get to know each other too – luckily they really hit it off. There was no
chance of Nick feeling like a gooseberry either – he was in the middle the
whole time, linking arms with both of us.
Blow Up Hall definitely has the right name – it just blows your mind. You
can’t believe it’s in Poland, it looks like it should be in New York or
Paris. It’s inside a shopping centre, which has amazing art installations
everywhere, like white leather chairs in a glass box and pieces hanging from
When you walk into the hotel lobby, there’s a light installation that shows
you broken into thousands of tiny images on a huge TV screen. Instead of a
key, you get an iPhone, which guides you to your room and unlocks the door,
plus you use it to call the concierge. Except I forgot to charge it, so I
had to nip downstairs in my pyjamas to ask one of the very good-looking
staff for a cup of tea!
My room was completely white, which was great because that’s how my house is
decorated, while Nick’s room was the opposite – black with silver leaf on
the ceiling, which was beautiful, but very masculine. It’s a total contrast
to the architecture in the town, which is all pale pinks and yellows, with
cobbled streets and amazing churches everywhere. It’s definitely inspired
some new designs for my wallpaper range.
Even the hotel’s restaurant is like a huge white honeycomb, with unbelievable
organic food, especially the boar from the forests around the town. The food
was traditional Polish, but with a twist – my favourite was breakfast, which
came in these little square pots on a square glass plate.
In the pots you had boar pâté, smoked boar ham and amazing cheese, then little
sausages with an apple chutney sauce, as well as eggs, yoghurt with
different berries, and lots of lovely sourdough and black bread. You
definitely can’t be carb-phobic there! I loved it so much I’m thinking of
having lots of little dishes for my wedding in spring next year too. I’m
keeping the rest of my plans secret though – all I’ll say is that it’s going
to be very theatrical!”
Flights to Poznan with Wizz Air (Wizzair.com) cost from £13.59 one-way.
Rooms at Blow Up 50:50 start from £270. See Blowuphall5050.com. Meg’s
wallpaper range is available from her website, Megmathews.co.uk, and Liberty.
NELL MCANDREW, 35
The TV presenter enjoyed a staycation at Center Parcs with her family.
“It’s amazing how times change. It wasn’t long ago when all I wanted to do was
go to Dubai and lie on a beach – now, after spending five brilliant days
there in July, I can’t wait to get back to Center Parcs.
Since having my son Devon, three, I‘ve been looking for more activity-based
holidays because they’re more fun for kids. So along with my husband Paul
and my brother Gary and his family, found ourselves in a lovely lodge in the
middle of Elveden Forest, Suffolk. It had everything from en-suites for each
of the three bedrooms to a sauna!
Cars are banned on site except for unloading, so it’s a really safe
environment for kids as well as being nice and peaceful for us adults. It
means the best way to get around is by bicycle, which beats sitting in a
traffic jam any day! We hired our mountain bikes for £23 each for the week
and it was money well spent. We used them the entire time for pretty
cycle-rides through the woods as well as to get from our lodge to the huge
swimming pool complex, where we spent most of our days.
Everyone loved whizzing down the water slides and bumping down the rapids, as
well as paddling in the toddlers’ pool and relaxing in the open-air salt
pool. I felt like I had turned into a kid again!
Although the weather wasn’t great it didn’t spoil our week because there was
so much to do, both indoors and outdoors. There are loads of exercise
classes for adults like boxercise and line dancing as well as lots of
activity groups for the children. Devon went to a Let’s Paint class and all
of his works of art are now in pride of place on the wall at home.
I found I really missed the car-free forest when I got home as well as the
relaxed atmosphere – now I’m looking forward to going to Center Parcs in
Longleat this winter!”
A mid-week break at Center Parcs in January 2010 starts from £199 for a
family of four (£13.00 per person per night). Book online at Center Parcs
before September 17 for the best price and availability.
PHOTOGRAPHY: WENN, REX,
MATRIX COMPILED BY: OLIVIA BUXTON, CATHY WINSTON, VICKY POWER AND VICKI