Marriott Rewards member Sam Tsui while exploring New Orleans for the first time. (Photo: Matt Bell)
When he’s not serenading his more than 2 million YouTube subscribers with beautiful covers of Adele songs or belting out his own sultry jams, Sam Tsui is out crossing the globe on tour. Sam’s been everywhere, which makes him quite the authority on all the must sees and dos in a variety of locales.
That includes New Orleans, one of the best cities in the world to seek out and hear some great music, where Marriott TRAVELER caught up with the singer at the new Moxy hotel near the city’s French Quarter. It was a fitting locale for Marriott Rewards to send Tsui before heading off to open for DNCE in Mexico.
Travel can turn anyone into a storyteller, and with its You Are Here campaign, Marriott TRAVELER and Marriott Rewards are exploring how being a member has enabled individuals like Sam to enrich their lives with memorable experiences and live in the moment.
Have you been anywhere recently that really impressed you?
One of my favorite things about being a musician is that I get to travel a ton, and though I’ve been all over the world this summer, one place I’ve been dying to go for a long time is New Orleans, so getting the chance to spend some time there was really exciting. Staying at the Moxy right in the heart of everything was the perfect way to see the city, and I really was blown away by the vibrance of the city and the culture and life exuding from every corner.
Was this more of a “Hey, let’s not do anything and relax” type of trip or a “Let’s explore the night life” type of thing?
It was definitely more of the latter. This being my first time to the city, I knew I wanted to experience as much as possible, and only had a few days to do it, so we immediately hit the ground running. I’d definitely recommend that anyone who’s visiting New Orleans on a diet should probably put that diet on hold for the duration of the trip because the incredible food was definitely a highlight—from ‘Poor Boys’ at Parkway Bakery and Tavern to indulgent donuts at District Donuts to some truly elegant fine dining at Commander’s Palace, there was amazing food all over. Although sometimes (especially after a really rigorous touring schedule) I’m tempted to go with a more ‘relax and do nothing’ travel mentality, I’m always glad when I do as much as possible!
What’s something about New Orleans you want people to know?
I was most struck by the sense of community that seemed to be a through-line in the stories of almost everyone we talked to in New Orleans—all of the artists, musicians, chefs, residents, and business owners we got to meet all spoke really passionate about their connection to the city and the people within it, which was something really special to behold.
Do you prefer to travel alone or with company?
I’m definitely a social traveler and prefer traveling with company—whether it’s with my husband Casey (who came with me to New Orleans, [him] having been before was helpful), or with my band when touring, I love getting to share my traveling experiences with others. The few times I’ve traveled alone, though, there definitely has been a very cool sense of even more total immersion while exploring my surroundings.
What would your ideal trip be?
An ideal trip for me is good food, good company, and lots of unexpected experiences. One area of the world that I’d LOVE to visit more than I’ve had the chance to yet is South America. I’ve still never been to Brazil, Argentina, or Chile and am really itching to get an excuse to head down and explore those beautiful countries.
When you’re traveling, how do you discover new things?
Asking locals is always the way to go. On this trip to New Orleans, the Moxy crew was invaluable in pointing us to the best spots. Their recommendations took us to Hansen’s Sno-Blitz for some unbelievably delicious mid-afternoon shaved ice, as well as Frenchmen Street where we heard some of the best music on the trip.
The Internet is, of course, also an amazing resource. I’ve got a slight advantage, too, by having fans around the world who are always really excited to recommend tons of stuff on social media whenever I’m in their hometown.
What’s something you always take with you when traveling?
Whenever traveling, you’ll always find me with a good book. I’m an avid reader, but while at home in L.A. I’m often too busy to find much time for leisure reading, so I really enjoy traveling (especially the transit—flights, train rides) as an opportunity to catch up on some books. And I fly internationally pretty often, so I find myself with lots of time in the air to read!
Is there a place you’d recommend everyone go at least once?
That’s not an easy question. There are SO many places that come to mind. I recently visited Greece (on my honeymoon, actually) and for me, seeing ancient sites, and places that really give you a perspective on the immense scale of human history, are especially impactful. I also got my college degree in Classical Greek so I’m a bit biased, but I’d say the Parthenon in Athens and the ruins at Delphi are two of my favorite places that I’d encourage anyone with a love of travel and a fascination for ancient history to visit.
What does it mean to you to be a Marriott Rewards Member? What does being a member do for you?
With how much I travel, being a Marriott Rewards member is super important—it means that every time I travel I’m building up points that I can redeem for new and exciting travel experiences like the one I just had in New Orleans.
How important is travel to you, and how has it impacted your life?
Travel is so incredibly important to me. I was very lucky that as a kid my parents took me all around the world and instilled in me a sense of appreciation and wonder toward experiencing the world. And now that my career is one that involves travel not only for that experience but also to share my music with others and get to meet fans and viewers from all over the globe, travel has taken on an even more meaningful role in my life, one for which I’m extremely grateful!
So what are you working on now? Headed anywhere else?
There’s a bunch of stuff on the horizon for me right now. I’ve got a lot of new music I’m about to release, and will mean much touring and traveling when it does come out. I just got back from Mexico, where I was opening for the band DNCE. It was actually my first time in Mexico, too, and am next headed back to Asia for shows in Taipei, Hong Kong, and Singapore.
So where is your home-base when you’re not traveling? Any recommendations there?
Although I’m originally from the East Coast, I now live in L.A. and feel like a Californian through and through! There’s so much to do in Los Angeles that, even having been here for several years at this point, I feel I’ve only scratched the surface. I recently moved to the East Side, and one of my favorite things to do is hike the trails around the Griffith Observatory—and of course on a summer night, nothing beats a picnic with friends and a show at the Hollywood Bowl. I love seeing the L.A. Philharmonic there.
Any last travel tips?
Don’t forget to take pictures! Although of course you’ve got to find a balance between documenting and being in the moment, as someone who posts a lot on social media, I’m always really grateful in retrospect to have tons of pictures and videos from trips to look back on and remember my adventures. I love going through photo albums and videos from old trips and reminiscing.