Ok so after my (and indeed my mates and pretty much everyone i’ve met) experience at sunburnt xmas I feel its my duty as an STA Travelbuzz blogger to pass on a word of warning and indeed publically address the shambles that is Sunburnt Xmas. On the face of it Sunburnt Xmas (‘SB’) seems like an epic idea. Xmas all sorted, food included, alot of fellow travellers and some tunes. Like a mini festival. Its not best cheap though – $70 for the food option. But alot of us decided to treat ourselves and we had a good crew going. We were already drunk when we turned up, and despite Georgie causing carnage by forgetting her ID we were all stoked when we got in. First 2 issues arose pretty quickly though. The foremost was the fact there was NO alcohol to be brought into SB. Not a major biggy, just really annoying (Ian managed to sneak in some vodka in his boxers anyway!), but this was made into a bit of a p*ss take when we discovered a can of beer (like coke can size…not UK beer can size) was being sold at $9! WTF?! Even with the exchange rate at the moment thats like £6! If you want more context on this even at UK festival prices (at say Reading or Glastonbury) you will only pay £4/£5 for a full pint! The second gripe was the fact it wasnt actually on Bondi beach, it was in Bondi Pavillion. Ok this is labelled on the poster….but the poster also gives the impression that there is some sort of beach element to the festival. I understand the media and the way it works, but their posters are rather misleading. The biggest (and quite frankly infuriating) gripe EVERYONE I’ve spoken to had with the festival was the food. Pretty much everyone paid $10 for Xmas Lunch. Xmas lunch is the single most important part of Xmas day….it’s what everyone talks about, its tradition! When you pay for a ‘Xmas Lunch’ what do you expect. I was thinking possibly some turkey, roast potatoes, stuffing and gravy….or possibly even a more traditional Aussie BBQ. So was everyone else. What you do not expect is some p*ss poor pre packed cold meal or regurgitated wafer thin ham, some tasteless and undercooked potatoe salad, a couple spirals of pasta and a stale bread roll. And I also didnt expect to be served by the most obnoxious and rude catering assistant known to man. Needless to say i entered a room of rather peeved people all moping around trying to consume this disgusting half arsed attempt of a meal. On the floor i may add. Most people (including myself) gave up and opted to visit the pub down the road for food! I would also like to point out how easily SB could’ve knocked up something warm and something vaguely resembling xmas lunch….schools do it, its easy to do…even in buffet form. At the end of the day even the homeless people of Sydney ate better than us this day…at least they got something hot, at least the Salvation Army made the effort. Even more shocking was the fact that SB provided no vegetarian option. When confronting the aforementioned overweight obnoxious staff member (who i have chosen to post a photo of below so that if anyone from SB actually decides to pay any kind of interest in feedback they hopefully will never employ him again) he was blunt with his response “just pick the potato salad off the meat”. I’m not vegetarian (Kerri is) but even i was p*ssed off and quite frankly shocked by that response. As was the rest of the group….and the other vegetarians now lining the bar trying to justify their $10 meal and feeling rather hungry. Absolutely disgusting behaviour. Especially considering the fact there was very little edible veg in the ‘meal’ pack. Not one to see my mates xmas dinner ruined, and rather angry at the way i was treated by the staff I decided to complain. I couldnt be arsed to deal with all the little people running around so i decided to go straight to event management. SB is the most unorganised event I’ve ever attended. No one knew who they were reporting to. No one knew who was actually in charge. And after about 30mins of being passed form pillar to post we eventually found who was in charge she didnt have a radio contact. Who the hell can manage an event like that without being in radio contact?! Jesus! But still we were fobbed off….”the caterers should make it fresh on demand for you”. This meant seeing ‘THAT’ guy again. He literally laughed in our face. So we hunted down the little blonde who was in charge of this unentertaining chaos and took a firmer stance. (she seemed unconcerned about how the catering staff had treated us). I asked for a full refund of the $10 meal. We were promptly told that she couldnt really be dealing with money and fobbed us off with 2 beers each (by this point i was lying about being veggie simply out of pure anger!). No apology, simply this is all your getting, take it or leave it. Believe me we had no option. I like arguing and making sure I get what I pay for – but she was unconcerned and wouldve quite happily kicked us out if we pushed it. So despite our best efforts my veggie friends remain unfed and everyone in general was pretty p*ssed. We left and went to a pub….which was cheaper and had warm tasty food. We didnt return to SB. So I’m going with the pen is mightier than the sword option. I hope STA circulate this email…they pride themselves on giving informed, honest advice from travellers to travellers. My advice to you (and I hope they will recirculate this next xmas too) is enjoy xmas. AVOID A SUNBURNT XMAS. If anyone from SB read this….I hope that you buck your ideas up for 2010. I’ll happily feature any response you may have to this blog, and will pass it onto STA as well.