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With cheap decorations and long lines, Nashville New Year's party draws Fyre Festival comparisons

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Posted at 4:54 PM, Jan 02, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-02 16:54:12-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- A New Year's Eve party gone wrong at a Nashville hotel has some on Facebook wondering if the company who put on the event will face legal action.

The Gatsby's House Nashville New Year's Eve party had plenty of promises for party guests on its Facebook page. But the event page has now turned into party goers venting their frustration after they say they were met with long lines and broken promises at the Omni Nashville Hotel.

"It was an absolute mess," Joshua Thifault said. "I felt uneasy when I walked in and saw the lines and the chaos and nobody really knowing what was going on. It didn't hit us until we walked into the main ballroom and saw that it was decorated like a bad prom."

Thifault said he and his wife purchased early bird VIP tickets from the company VIP Nightlife which cost more than $180. He said some of his friends were paying closer to $300 for the same ticket. He said he immediately knew something was wrong due to extremely long lines that stretched through the room.

"There was a DJ and supposedly a dance floor but it was ruined because all of these drink lines were snaking through the dance area," he said.

Thifault said there were nine bars in the room, but there were about 2,500 people and everyone had to wait for 45 minutes to an hour to get one drink. He was told he could only get one drink at a time.

"It was so bad that, you would think, it's the end of 2019, you think people would talk about their year," he said. "Instead the conversation was making fun of the event. It was the worst New Year's Eve part I've ever seen and probably the worst I will ever see."

He said he thought the decorations were cheap and not reflective of the "Gatsby's House" atmosphere that the event promised.

"We felt like we were conned," Thifault said. "There were way more tickets sold than would've been appropriate for this space. They didn't have enough drinks for everyone. It was advertised multiple times that it was open bar and that it was VIP open bar for those of us who upgraded. That just wasn't true. We walked in, they gave us drink tickets. There were enormous lines. People joked they were going to have a sober 2020 and they didn't intend."

The event page promised the following: "5 Hour Prepaid Bar, 4 Areas To Mingle, 3 Event Areas, 2 Top-Rated Nashville DJs and 1 Amazing Countdown." According to people who created a Facebook page to complain about the party, that's not what they got. One man called it "the most disorganized party I have ever been to." He also said somebody with the company that put on the event promised him refunds for 10 VIP tickets.

The CEO of VIP Nightlife, Luke Wryder, took responsibility for the event and said he would work on solutions for the patrons who were unhappy.

In a phone interview Thursday, Wryder said this was the company's first event in Nashville and there were clear areas where it went wrong.

A representative from Omni distanced the hotel from the event, saying VIP Nightlife had rented out the space and the hotel was not responsible for any of the event planning. They said the hotel had a conference call to discuss the event with VIP Nightlife.

Tod Roadarmel, Area Director of Sales and Marketing for the hotel, released the following statement saying that moving forward, the hotel will not do business with the VIP Nightlife:

“As with all hotels, Omni Nashville provides rooms and meeting spaces for group clients of all shapes and sizes. Although the group in question was fully vetted prior to signing a contract, we are extremely disappointed in the unexpected experience they provided to all guests local and national who attended, especially during a celebratory event. While the party took place at our hotel, this event was not sponsored by Omni Nashville and it did not meet the standards that we hold and have held for countless events with third party vendors in the past. As one of the premier locations in downtown Nashville, this is not how we’d envisioned the evening going and as a result, we will no longer conduct business with VIP Nightlife. Those seeking a refund should reach out to their organization directly.”

This story was originally published by Kyle Horan at WTVF.