Attendees of a luxurious long lunch in the Whitsundays have demanded refunds after the event’s second day faced “extreme” weather and was cut short by a medical emergency.
The White on Whitehaven Long Lunch on 30 May, which was organised by Fish D’vine in partnership with Tourism & Events Queensland and sponsored by Tourism Whitsundays, left some guests seething, after “torrential” rain and strong winds wreaked havoc on the coveted event.
But that weather wasn’t the only issue guests have complained about, with one attendee posting on social media that the event was cut short by a “drug overdose”, according to The Courier-Mail.
Another attendee told the outlet that men were “peeing everywhere” including near the dining area due to lack of access to toilets.
“Who dumps over 300 people on a beach and fills them full of alcohol and food without providing any amenities?” one woman told 7News.
“There was a constant stream of people urinating or defecating on the edge of the beach or in the water.
“Also the transfer boat being open meant everyone got soaked in the rain.”
Another woman told 7News organisers did not provide enough shelter from the rain and she was unable to eat her seafood lunch because it was “soaked”.
“There was no where to protect yourself,” she said.
“(The food) was soaking wet by the time I got to my seat.
“I just said, ‘nah, I’m not eating this’. My food was swimming.”
According to marketing on Tourism Whitsunday’s website, the event promised a “relaxing cruise through the azure blue waters of the Coral Sea” before dining on the ” pure white, soft silica sands” overlooking “turquoise blue waters” of Whitehaven Beach.
“Upon arrival at Whitehaven Beach, you will be greeted with mojitos, champagne, canapes, freshly shucked oysters, salmon sashimi, all of this delicious fresh produce prepared by the talented chefs of Fish D’vine,” the tourism marketing body said.
One particularly unhappy attendee posted a list of the day’s mishaps on Facebook, according to The Courier-Mail.
“Why isn’t anyone talking about the victims of Whitehaven?” the Facebook user lamented.
“The three-hour boat trip that had people spewing off the back … the lack of toilet facilities (none) … the soaking wet and undercooked food … the fallen tents and wet Gucci bags. .. unlimited drinks being limited (running out) … the ‘medical emergency’ (drug overdose) bad enough to cut the event short by 1.5 hours.”
Fish D’Vine owner Kev Collins told The Courier-Mail his company would not be issuing refunds because it would be unfair to the other 750 ticket holders who had not complained.
Collins confirmed that a young woman required medical attention both before and after the event but would not disclose what the issue was besides saying she appeared “very ill” then “stable”.
“We had beautiful weather on Saturday and an almost identical forecast for Sunday so we went ahead on that basis,” Collins said.
“There’s absolutely no doubt the weather ruined it for some people, but that’s the risk with any outdoor event, and it’s a shared risk between the organiser and the participant.”
Collins added that in the “20 or so years” he had run the event, the toilet arrangements had been the same and rarely presented issues.
A spokeswoman for Tourism Whitsundays told Travel Weekly that the long lunch had been “thoroughly enjoyed by patrons” on all previous years it had sponsored the event.
“The White on Whitehaven Long Lunch by Fish D’vine event has taken place for a number of years, firstly as part of a larger event series and more recently as a stand-alone event,” the spokeswoman said.
“The Saturday attendees had wonderful weather all day while the Sunday event was heavily rained upon. This resulted in a varied guest experience.
“As always, following any event, Tourism Whitsundays will provide feedback and recommendations for future events.”
The event cost attendees a minimum of $349 a head, but it is being reported that weekend packages had a price tag of up to $2,000.
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