Go Away With … Rob Thomas

By Jae-Ha Kim
Tribune Media Services
December 22, 2009

Born in West Germany on a U.S. military base, Rob Thomas was born to travel. The frontman for Matchbox Twenty, Thomas also collaborated with Carlos Santana (he was the voice of the hit single “Smooth”) and is currently finishing up a U.S. tour to promote his second solo album “Cradlesong.” After that he’ll head off to Australia in February to perform concerts there.

“My first time out of the country was to Australia,” says Thomas, 37. “Every first trip is fun, but after you’ve visited a few times, you get the lay of the land down and find favorite spots. Each spot gets better every trip.”

A homebody at heart who happens to travel a lot, Thomas talks about how a trip to his favorite resort in Hawaii can always get him to leave his beloved New York home.

Q. What is your favorite vacation destination?
A. The Four Seasons Resort (http://www.fourseasons.com/hualalai/) in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii. You don’t really need a reason to love Hawaii, but the thing about Kona, in particular, is that even when the resort is completely filled up, you can still feel like you’re the only people there. It’s lit by tiki torches along beautiful winding paths. And the staff really takes care of you.

Q. Where are your favorite weekend getaways?
A. Because I’m never home, my actual favorite place to spend a weekend is in my own backyard or on my couch on a rainy Sunday. Living just outside of the city in New York, my wife and I only need to sneak into the city, but we sometimes like to fly to London just to hang with friends and visit some of our favorite London spots.

Q. What are your favorite hotels and restaurants?
A. Living in New York you get spoiled, but I like Etrusca (www.ristorante-etrusca.de) in Cologne, Germany. I also like Pastis (www.pastisny.com) in downtown New York City, also Madeo in Los Angeles. I don’t like to give away my favorite hotels.

Q. When you go away what are some of your must-have items?
A. Because I live on a bus, I like to have my own sheets and pillowcases. I also have to have my iPod and my Martin & Co. travel guitar.

Q. What kind of research do you do before you go away on a trip?
A. My wife always searches through all of the hotels online. She looks at the pics of rooms, etc. We spend half of our lives in hotels, so it’s important to find ones we like. We like them clean and roomy.

Q. Where would you like to go that you have never been to before?
A. South Africa and India.

Q. What is your best or worst vacation memory?
A. We once made it out of Hawaii just hours before an earthquake. We felt pretty lucky. That’s a good and bad memory.

Q. How do you try to fit in when you’re a tourist?
A. I don’t really worry about fitting in, but I try not to stick out, either. I just act like myself. In Germany, people just assume that I may be from there, but in Japan nothing’s going to help. I do try to be respectful of all local cultures and ways of doing things when I’m anywhere, though.

Q. What is the best thing you’ve ever eaten overseas?
A. In Greece, everything is good. You can eat nonstop all day and never gain weight because it’s all so fresh and healthy.

© 2009 JAE-HA KIM


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