In 2022, we’re seeing more and more music festivals wrapped in the decadence and glam of a top-end hotel or resort experience. With varying degrees of ambition and success, these total package getaways have flipped the script on the perpetual search for a better venue for organizers while also making it significantly easier for music lovers. Sure, the “pair music with nice digs” idea is something Vegas figured out in the 1950s, but it’s finally becoming more widespread around the world and we’re here for it.
Think about it. No booking a hotel miles away for a jacked-up price. No annoying Uber rides to and from the venue during “peak” rates. No searching for food trucks when you’re starving. All of this melts away when the hotel you’re staying at is the venue. The music festival in a hotel concept fosters a kinship that only comes from being able to say, “I was there too!”
To better understand this value-packed travel trend, UPROXX spoke with three music festival organizers each of whom had a different perspective on the hotel-based festival concept.
Hosting a festival at a hotel is an opportunity to improve operational efficacy and simplify (sometimes even reduce) costs. Dirtybird CampINN, the hotel-based spin-off of a summer camp-themed music festival, Dirtybird Campout, is a prime example.
“When you’re building a festival, budgets are crazy high because you’re building all this infrastructure,” Aundy Crenshaw, who co-founded and runs both Dirtybird events, tells UPROXX. “It costs a lot of money and you have to have a high number of attendees for that to really pan out. Otherwise, your pricing gets super expensive, right?”
Crenshaw then breaks down the obvious perks, “The transition to hotels allows you to skip building all that infrastructure. Now you have the buildings, you have the power, you have the bathrooms, you have people that want to take showers and want to have rooms, and you’re not building the showers!”
While obviously a simpler plan, setting up shop in a hotel or resort isn’t always easy.
“It’s like you really have to work to transition that into your own space,” Crenshaw explains. “Like last year, there are these three ballrooms at the CampINN location and we put up all these little cool art walls and the fire marshal made us take them all down like two minutes before the event because they were made of wood.” Crenshaw breaks it down that while it seems easier to just move into a hotel, there’s always a learning curve no matter how easy something looks on paper.
Other event organizers were much more interested in developing their offerings to build better experiences for their audience. Holy Ship! is a prime example.
“After 13 sailings of Holy Ship! on luxury cruise ships, we were ready to curate a new kind of experience,” says Carrie Kaufman, the Marketing & Activities Director for Cloud 9 Adventures who are the partners behind Holy Ship! Wrecked.
“The first edition of Holy Ship! Wrecked at a resort was in January of 2020,” says Kaufman. “When your passion is focused on creating experiences that bring people together, there is a natural inclination to keep those experiences fresh for everyone and to keep innovating.”
That translates to Holy Ship! Wrecked as a bevy of highly personal once-in-a-lifetime interactions with mega stars that would normally only be enjoyed from afar. Over the last few iterations, Holy Ship! Wrecked has also been offering volunteer opportunities where guests can roll up their sleeves and take part in efforts that benefit the folks in Riviera Maya too.
In the case of Hotel El Ganzo in San José del Cabo in Mexico, the legendary property is known for putting on a variety of events and is preparing to host their 10-year anniversary celebration Ganzo X. The primary goals may have once been enhancing cost efficiency and smoothing operations, but today it’s all evolving the little moments that make time spent in between sets so much more special while being much more focused on driving bigger impacts outside the hotel and festival in the community that surrounds it.
As a B Corp, Ganzo X is able to raise money to feed impoverished families, fund coral reef protection programs, and rebuild schools that were devastated by hurricanes. “We are very close with the local community and always try to source locally for whatever we need or do,” explains Daniela Sánchez Sutcliffe, the Head of Marketing for Hotel El Ganzo.
“We hope to create and develop job opportunities and create awareness of San José del Cabo as a rich and diverse destination not only for nature and vacationing, but for its music and art programs,” Sutcliffe tells us. “Our objective is also to enrich the plurality of the community by inviting artists and creatives to be part of it and see and feel all San José has to offer.”
With a healthy balance of attendees and an increased operational capacity to focus on the fun parts, festivals making this transition into hotels are setting themselves up for major success where those who attend also get a real vacation experience out of the show. Rather than leaving exhausted, festival goers can potentially depart recharged and revitalized too. You can’t beat that.