Go Away With … Laila Ali


Photo: NBC/Trae Patton

By Jae-Ha Kim
Tribune Media Services
January 5, 2010

Following her father’s footsteps into the boxing ring was a no brainer for Laila Ali. The second youngest of Muhammad Ali’s nine children — Laila was a knockout, in and out of the gym.

While athletics always come easy for her, competing on “Dancing With the Stars” definitely took her out of her comfort zone.

“That was so much fun, but also hard,” says Ali, 32. “I was in it to win it but Apolo (Anton Ohno) won. That’s OK. He’s cool.”

Ali and her husband, former NFL wide receiver Curtis Conway, have a toddler son. Find out where they plan on taking their baby for his first big trip.

Q. What is your favorite vacation destination?
A. Bermuda. It’s the one place I’ve been to that I love to death and I always look forward to going back to. The island is not only beautiful, but the people are so kind and sweet. I started going every year to take part in a tennis fundraiser (the Celebrity Tennis Classic) that benefits the island’s junior players. I don’t like to lose, but I’m horrible at tennis. I can’t play tennis and I just make a fool of myself at it. But playing tennis in Bermuda makes losing bearable. With boxing, I was always so serious about everything. But I can have fun with tennis. Before I went to Bermuda that first time, I didn’t expect it to be as unique as it was. Since it’s just a couple hours from New York, I kind of imagined it would be like Florida or something. But it’s an amazingly beautiful country that’s lush and laid back. I’ve been to Paris and I thought it was a beautiful city, but the people weren’t nearly as welcoming as the people in Bermuda or Hawaii, where Curtis and I went on our honeymoon. Bali’s nice, but it’s so far away! Can you tell that I tend to like islands?

Q. Where are your favorite weekend getaways?
A. I live in Los Angeles and one of my favorite weekend getaways is close to home — the Montage (www.montagelagunabeach.com) at Laguna Beach. When I go to the Montage, I feel like I’ve gone somewhere far, even though I’m still close to home. Also, Laguna Beach is beach town, which is always fun, and there is great shopping.

Q. What are your favorite hotels and restaurants?
A. The W Tuscany (Whotels.com/TheTuscany) in New York is one of my favorite hotels. It is small and quaint, even though it is in a big city. Also, the beds at The W are so comfortable, which is extremely important. I’m generally not a wasteful person and I don’t like to waste other people’s money either. Even if someone is paying for me to go on a business trip, I won’t demand a suite or anything like that. As long as you give me a clean and comfy hotel room, I’m good. One of my all-time favorite restaurants is Roscoe’s House of Chicken and Waffles in Los Angeles. However, I can’t go there too often though. (Laughs.)

Q. When you go away, what are some of your must-have items?
A. Flip-flops for the shower, a travel steamer for my clothes and a flat iron for my hair. I try to make my trips work with one carry-on ‘cause I don’t want a lot of drama at the airport.

Q. Where would you like to go that you have never been to before?
A. I’ve been to Africa before for work, but while there I didn’t have an opportunity to explore. I’d definitely like to go back, starting in South Africa. It would be great to interact with the people and experience the culture first-hand. Also, I can’t wait until my son (Curtis Muhammad Conway, Jr.) is old enough to enjoy playing at the beach. When he is old enough, I think we’ll take a trip to the Bahamas.

Q. How do you try to fit in when you’re a tourist?
A. People come up to me all the time and that’s OK. But in Bermuda, no one cares who I am or who my father is. They’re very mellow. Plus, I think they know they’re privileged to get to live in such a beautiful country. Also, I’m there enough that they’re probably not only used to me, but also sick of me by now.



CAPITAL: Hamilton.


CURRENCY: Bermudian dollar. (One Bermudian dollar is equivalent to one U.S. dollar.)

TIME ZONE: UTC/GMT. So, if it’s noon in New York, it’s 1 p.m. in Bermuda.

GEOGRAPHY: About 22 square miles in size, Bermuda is located 600 miles east of North Carolina.

WHY GO TO BERMUDA NOW: Because it’s cooler until March, tourists can get accommodations for up to 4 percent off the peak tourist seasons (April to October).

To learn more about Bermuda, go to www.bermuda.com.

© 2010 JAE-HA KIM


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