NYE Above the Harbour patrons demand refund after 'complete joke' event

The midnight fireworks on display on New Year's Eve in Sydney, Australia.
ZAK KACZMAREK/GETTY

The midnight fireworks on display on New Year's Eve in Sydney, Australia.

Customers who paid up to $500 (NZD$533) to attend a private New Year's Eve party in Sydney are demanding refunds, describing a night of hour-long toilet queues, greasy food, alcohol shortages and Justin Bieber music on repeat.

The Sydney NYE Above the Harbour event, presented by the Shangri-La Hotel, promised "a relaxed, stress-free NYE in beautiful surrounds".

For the first time, an entire section of the Royal Botanic Gardens was reserved for more than 3000 paying guests to enjoy views of the Opera House and Harbour Bridge.

Partygoers said they queued for hours for sub-par food at the NYE Above the Harbour event.
CHRIS LEE/FACEBOOK

Partygoers said they queued for hours for sub-par food at the NYE Above the Harbour event.

Promoters advertised "five star" bars and food including a "dessert garden" stocked by a celebrated pastry chef.

But many patrons found the Above the Harbour party distinctly below par. 

"We spent most of the night lining up," said David Smith, who paid $500 for VIP table service only to find there was none. "It took 1½ hours to 1¾ hours to get anything." People left the venue to get McDonald's because it was quicker than waiting in line, he said. 

Some of the food patrons complained about at the NYE Above the Harbour event.
CHRIS LEE/FACEBOOK

Some of the food patrons complained about at the NYE Above the Harbour event.

Partygoers said they queued for hours for sub-par food at the NYE Above the Harbour event. Photo: Chris Lee/Facebook

The food itself received numerous complaints.

"Brisket sliders tasted like paper with a very cold bread roll,"  Geraldine Parino Montejo said on Facebook.

"Asian noodles we got tasted burnt, no one can eat that crap! Smoked chicken legs are not even cooked inside, inviting salmonella..."

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One patron said the dessert stall offered only fruit skewers and popcorn. "I feel like I've been mugged by Scott Morrison," Paul Harper-Jones said.

Then there were the toilet queues. "People pissing anywhere they could because you only had the bare minimum portable toilets," Jason Littlewood said. 

Several partygoers described missing out on time with relatives from overseas due to the long lines. 

"The music was also bloody horrible!" Chris Lee said. "The speakers closest to the Opera House kept cutting out and you were playing the same Bieber song over and over again."

Other descriptions of the event included "highway robbery", "a broken promise", "a total shambles" and "just awful". The site's view appeared to be one aspect of the night that lived up to expectations. 

Tickets cost $395 for general admission and $495 for reserved seats plus booking fees. 

Smith, who paid for the more expensive ticket, was among those on Facebook demanding organisers refund the ticket costs.

Feeling "totally ripped off", he said he would also make a formal complaint. Others online have discussed hiring lawyers to take the event organisers to court. 

Shangri-la Hotel management have been contacted for comment.

 - Sydney Morning Herald

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