If Only They Could See Me in the Rovers Now; Coronation Street Villain Gray O'Brien Escapes the Heat Down Mexico Way

The Mail on Sunday (London, England), December 13, 2009 | Go to article overview

If Only They Could See Me in the Rovers Now; Coronation Street Villain Gray O'Brien Escapes the Heat Down Mexico Way


Byline: Gray O'Brien

AFTER playing Tony Gordon for the past few years, I needed a break. Somewhere hot, where I could see a bit of history, and somewhere I could chill for four or five days. That was the brief. You see, I'm awaiting trial for the murder of my soap rival Liam Connor - and I even tried to bump off Roy Cropper, one of the Street's best-loved characters. So I wanted to be a long way away - and Mexico seemed to fit the bill perfectly.

Flying with Mexicana Airlines from Gatwick, it's just under 12 hours to Mexico City and its population of 15million - or 25million if you add the suburbs. This is a big city.

I'm here for only two nights and I'm staying at the plush Four Seasons Hotel on the Paseo de la Reforma, a smart postcode in such a bulging metropolis. It is only 14 years old and was built around an impressive courtyard which all the rooms and suites look on to.

I want to see some of the city and its surroundings so I have fixed up to have my own guide, Fernando, for a day and a half, and I intend to make the most of him. On my first day, we have a whistlestop tour of the city en route to Teotihuacan, an hour and a half away.

This amazing archaeological site dating from 200BC was once the largest city in the Americas, with a population of about 200,000. Now overlooked by the ancient pyramids of the Sun and Moon, it is a place of peace and serenity. Painstaking restoration gives an idea of the grand scale of the place.

All too soon, however, we're driving back to the hotel and the city. It's Friday afternoon and, with roads closed due to a demonstration and queues of cars, you get a glimpse of how frenetic this place is.

Back at the hotel, it's dinner and a really wonderful long, deep sleep before I check out and head for the 'chilling-out' bit of my break, on the Yucatan peninsula and the Caribbean beaches of the Riviera Maya. It's a two-hour flight from Mexico City and I'm staying at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Playa del Carmen, about 50 minutes from Cancun.

EVEN though I knew what to Eexpect after checking out the hotel online, I'm still overwhelmed at just how luxurious it is. A bellboy stands in the lobby with a tray of refreshing scented towels, another has a tray of freshly prepared local juices, including cactus juice.

After a stress-free check-in, I take my seat on a golf-style buggy, with a driver not unlike Oddjob from the 007 film Goldfinger. Reception is almost a mile inland from the beach and in between are the spa, the villas and the restaurants. During the day it's too hot to walk all the way and when the sun goes down the mosquitoes come out to play - hence the buggies.

I'm taken to my Laguna King Suite, which is beautiful. I feel as if I'm in a show apartment at first but I find out they are all like this. Fittings are to the highest standard, the bathroom has a double walk-in shower and outside there's a hot tub, which the staff will fill to your desired temperature at your desired time.

There's also a great big comfortable bed and a 42in television. The thought did occur to me that I might never leave this suite.

In the aftermath of Mexico's swine flu outbreak and the global recession, it is very quiet. This suits me perfectly for a nice bit of R&R. I'm soon right into the routine - up at 6.30, a leisurely breakfast at seven, read for a few hours, a walk along the miles of a whiter-than-white beach. …

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