Lower-level staff warned Fyre Festival executives about about conditions on the island—including insufficient housing and restrooms—days and weeks ahead of the doomed festival, according to internal emails leaked to Mic. The emails show Fyre executives attempting to cut corners at their ultra-luxe Bahamian destination festival by skimping on toilets, showers, and “bare necessities” like toilet paper and soap.
On April 3, less than a month before the festival was set to begin, executive producer Lyly Villanueva emailed senior staff, including Fyre founder Billy McFarland, with the subject line “RED FLAG- BATHROOMS/ SHOWER SHIPPING.” Getting the recommended number of toilet and shower trailers to the island of Great Exuma would be expensive, she warned. About 125 toilet stalls—18 to 20 trailers’ worth—would be required to accommodate an estimated 2,500 people. “These were equations given to us by bathroom providers and confirmed via my own research and experience,” Villanueva explained.
“If we cut it in half, we would just have double the line wait?” replied Fyre Media president Conall Arora. “I’m seeing some sites that say we could get away with 75 toilets.” Later he added: “It sounds like we can save a lot of money if we sub in port a potties.”
On April 20, one week ahead of Fyre’s first weekend, consultant Marc Weinstein wrote in an email (“***DO NOT IGNORE*** HOUSING UPDATE & ACTION ITEMS FOR YOU”) that a projected 593 attendees, staff, vendors, and others would lack housing. As a last-minute solution, he suggested renting a cruise ship, dismissing 130 staff members, and bumping some social media influencers and at least “50 lowest paying customers” to the festival’s second weekend.
Fyre Media chief marketing officer Grant Margolin replied that bumped customers would receive an upgrade to villa housing. But there’s no evidence those villas existed: In a separate email on April 22, five days before guests started to arrive, Weinstein recommended that Fyre launch an “outreach campaign” in order to manage influencers’ expectations. “In speaking to even low level influencers, it was clear they expected their own rooms at private villas on the beach,” he wrote. “Of course, these villas don’t exist.”
The housing that did exist apparently had other problems. “We need to make a decision as to the bare necessities that each house needs or decide not to hold ourselves accountable for provisioning,” Weinstein wrote later that same day. “Having seen many of the houses, they don’t have toilet paper, soap, water. Do we want to stock these items for guests?”
The leaked emails could play a role in the multiple lawsuits Fyre now faces. Some of those suits allege that organizers should have known conditions on site—including the toilet and shower shortage—fell short of the amenities advertised. The emails also show organizers under financial pressure, which would appear to square with reports that Fyre burned through millions in loans to keep itself afloat.
In the failed festival’s immediate aftermath, founder McFarland blamed problems on bad weather and poor infrastructure. “We were a little bit ambitious,” he wrote in a statement.