The last time I was at anything close to what a modern-day trendy music festival (such as Ultra, Coachella, etc.) was when I was in my teens during the good ‘ole Van’s Warped Tour days.
Earlier this year, a friend of mine extended me a great VIP deal to what seemed to be marketed as the most luxurious and exclusive music festival in the world, the Fyre Festival, which was set to happen on a Private island in the Exuma, Bahamas.
Produced by Ja Rule and endorsed by beautiful people, celebrities, and “Instagram models”, the festival was marketed to include private jet transfers, luxury “glamping”, yachts, and even a million-dollar treasure/scavenger hunt. The videos and marketing materials supporting the hype beforehand looked INSANE!
I mean, you can even take a look at the promotional video yourself:
Given that the festival fell a few days after my 30th birthday, I was stoked to be able to celebrate in such a fun way, so I venmoed my friend for my share of the villa, booked positioning flights to Miami, and the countdown began.
When Trouble Started
As the weeks leading to the festival went by, things started to feel off. The “private jet” flights kept changing, there were no specifics about what the food or accommodations would be like, and everything was kept rather vague.
Since I had so many questions, and none were being answered, I was offered a refund for my portion of the villa ($556). I decided to cancel while I could without penalty.
Then things got interesting- a week went by, and a nice organizer reached out to me with a proposal. I was told that because I was a blogger, they’d love for me to still attend, and they would still extend the refund to me and upgrade my passes to VIP. They even sweetened the deal saying they would comp a friend of mine too.
Even though I already had lower expectations based on my initial gut-feeling when I decided to cancel in the first place, I figured 2-days on a private island in the Bahamas with my best friend wouldn’t be that bad, regardless of the outcome… or so I thought.
I was supposed to be en route to MIA this morning, to catch my charter to the Exuma island for the festival. I had my bags packed, and was ready to go. While I was at the Freddie Awards last night, I received a phone call from a friend of mine who told me it was in my best interest not to board my flight in the morning.
Once he told me to look at the #fyrefestival hashtag that was trending on Twitter, it was the easiest decision of my life to opt out of the trip completely. What was going on at the Fyre Festival was absolutely outrageous. The remote island was not ready to host the thousands of people (some even paying $12,000-20,000!) that had booked what they thought would be a “luxury trip” of the century.
Those “glamping” tents, ended up being FEMA rescue tents, and most weren’t even set up, so people had no choice but to sleep on the cold and wet ground as they were stranded on the island. The “five star cuisine” literally was a piece of bread with a slice of cheese on it. No, really.
As the reality of the conditions surrounding the Fyre Festival fiasco unfolded on social media (including mugging, stolen luggage, etc.), the artists started canceling. Below is a statement made by Blink 182:
The official Fyre Festival website has now been taken down and is replaced with this message:
- Don’t fall for big hypes.
- Trust your gut.
- And perhaps the biggest lesson of all here is to always book refundable flights if/when you can! Thank goodness that my positioning flights were booked with Southwest points, and I was able to cancel with just a click of a button.
The Fyre Festival has clearly earned the title of the worst event-planning #fail in the history of mankind. I am shocked (but not surprised) that Ja Rule has been silent while all of this is going on.
While I am still waiting for my $556 refund, which I can’t promise I’ll ever see, I am so grateful that I was able to back out without too much at stake. I feel so bad for people who traveled from halfway around the globe and have spent tens of thousands of dollars on a trip that really only was an illusion.
What are your thoughts? Have you been following #FyreFestival on Twitter?