New Everton signing Theo Walcott still finds time for a golf vacation with his friends, as well as rejoicing with his young family by the pool
This is my favorite vacation destination. Somewhere with a beautiful beach, a pool and a good gym. I travel quite regularly throughout the season, but we can’t really explore. In the summer months, I get about four or five weeks off and then we move to the south of France, Dubai or Italy. When I’m on vacation, especially during the two weeks of the football season, it’s important for me to have access to a good gym so I don’t go back with a beer belly. A golf holiday with the boys is always beautiful. I’m really a bit of a bandit, although I play at number 10, I should probably be a little less than that.
My favorite golf course. West Course at Wentworth. It’s a great experience from start to finish. From the clubhouse breakfast to the actual golf course, and the way you look – that’s right there. I played with Justin Rose at the BMW PGA Championship Pro in 2013, and I was as nervous in the first T as I was on the football pitch! I played golf in Dubai a few years ago with my cousin and brother, but the sweat was sweating in the heat and the whole round could not last. Night golf is a much better option, and I played a few rounds under the light there during a recent mid-season break with Everton.
When I’m on vacation … I like to relax. We can’t be too adventurous due to the possibility of injury, so things like skiing and rock climbing will have to wait until I retire. I want to learn scuba diving, and I’m a big animal lover, so a safari is definitely on my bucket list.
My favorite city.New York. It’s got such a great buzz. I first went when I was 18 and then again when I was 19, and I feel really comfortable there. London is great, but there’s something about New York that’s really different for me. I want to be there at some point.
My favorite hotel is.Mandarin Oriental in New York. It is located in Columbus Circle and has great views over Central Park. I was sick for about four days while I was there, but it was really nice to spend that time at the hotel. The service is fantastic and the rooms are quite modern and neutral, but for me it is about amazing views. They also have a great gym and I have seen Rihanna work there. I was not brave enough to talk to him. I was like a nervous schoolboy in his presence.
I had the most memorable holiday meal. Hong Kong’s Harbor Grand Hotel. I was there with the Arsenal team a few years ago and the view outside the harbor of the boats was quite special. It was pre-season, so there was a lot of fighting going on around the table and it was just a great buzz. Then, I went to the pool pool on the roof of the hotel, which has glass on the side, so you can swim to the very edge and see the incredible view.
The only thing I hate about holidays is this. Getting on a plane is a bit scary for me to fly, so I don’t like to travel very far. My grandfather used to take me on his two-seater propeller plane when I was younger, and even though he was a good pilot, those memories haunt me for a lifetime. I’ve had a few bad flights since then – I don’t really like turmoil.
The best part of my travel advice. Thoroughly research where you are going before you promise to book something. I go online or ask friends for recommendations. Also, don’t pack too much – especially if you’re going on a shopping vacation. I always do a lot of shopping in New York, so I pick up a few empty bags.