Russell Watson - My Holiday Hotspots
- Credit: Archant
British tenor, and Manchester aficionado Russell Watson, talks Malaysian hideaways, his love of Japan, and singing for the Pope at the Vatican, with Jill Nash.
Q: How often do you travel?
A: Its all work dependent really, sometimes I’ll buckle down and have a few months of zero travel, and then four to five months of continuous travel. On my second album in 2002, I think I slept in my bed twice that year. Although I’ve made most records here in the UK, I have spent time in the USA, LA and then long island, NY, which were fantastic. Although my travel is usually work related, I always have time for a bit of fun.
Q: What do you need for the perfect holiday?
A: Good company is crucial – there is literally nothing worse than going away with boring people. I really need the presence of good people around me, I’d hate to be stuck somewhere alone. It is also nice to go away as a couple with other friends too. I also have a tendency to pack way too much, so wherever I travel; I always need plenty of hotel space for all my stuff!
Q: The most meaningful travel experience?
A: I went to Rome to sing for Pope John Paul II at the Vatican. That experience would take some beating as it was a once an amazing opportunity. However, I also performed at Carnegie Hall in New York, in a musical show called Kristina, It was an amazing experience walking out on stage in such an iconic city and the reaction was immense and intense.
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Q: Funniest travel experience?
A: I get bored in hotels at times and so I like to play stupid pranks, (a bit Ricky Gervais). I once got my bodyguard assistant, who was a 6ft 5 ex-army guy, to dress up as a lady, with a long blonde wig, for the room service chap to arrive. We had to keep a straight face. He entered with the trolley, and continued to serve us and yet he never batted an eyelid, but we were all laughing about it for weeks afterwards.
As I said before, it’s really the people and experiences, which make the memories of travel standout; people make an impact, not the best places or finest hotels.
Q: The worst hotel you’ve stayed?
A: The Ibis, somewhere in London, the room was horrendous. A single room really means a single room with a small camp sized bed, and two-inch thick mattress. Needless to say, we checked out and moved into the Marriott, next door!
When I did cruises early on in my career we docked at Trinidad and Tobago, the place they put us in was like a with prefab building. It was hideous. There were cockroaches in bathroom. The local guide took us to parts of the island off the tourist route that were very different from the sights you see in the holiday brochures. It was quite sad really.
Q: The best hotel you’ve stayed?
A: That’s a difficult one, as I have many! The Pankgor Laut Resort in Malaysia, which is a private island owned by one of my friends. It’s paradise where I can relax and escape the limelight. I get treated like royalty, but so does everyone, as that’s the kind of place it is. The Ritz Carlton in Kuala Lumpur, is also pretty special, - it’s the service and people, who are kind, warm and peaceful. I was also amazed by the Park Hyatt in Shinjuku Tokyo – it’s a pretty impressive hotel, and offer the best views of the city.
Q: Most surprising destination.
A: Vienna. It was one of those places I didn’t really know much about. I did an open-air festival there, and I was amazed at how stunning the architecture was, and it reminded me of Rome but without the graffiti. It was a truly majestic city and it really struck a chord with me. Although it hasn’t got the kudos of Rome, I absolutely loved it.
Q: Your favourite city?
A: Manchester. I travel all over the world, but I love coming home. There is something that draws me back here. My family are all here too, and I think it helps keeping me grounded. I couldn’t see myself living anywhere else.
Q: Best piece of travel advice?
A: When I travel, I always try to be prepared for every eventuality. As I always seem take the weather with me, (being a Mancunian that isn’t a good thing!) So I pack a jumper and a brolly, and I try not to wear and shorts and sandals flying back from anywhere exotic!
Q: Where next?
A: No-where really for next couple of months, as I’ll be in the studio recording my new single. But later on the year, I’ll be off to Japan, for a tour and a bit of travel at the same time.
***Russell will be performing a Charity concert at HM Theatre in Aberdeen on 21 August and Greenwich Music Festival on 22nd August. www.russellwatson.com