We came, we saw, and unlike any music festival in history – suffer we did not. Marriott’s “Wake Up Call” music festival, centered around the eccentric W Hotels brand was an instantly inviting concept, and now we can say that we’ve experienced it first hand – and it’s awesome. Anyone who’s been to a traditional multi day musical festival knows that no matter how glorious the musical acts, there are a always few undeniable obstacles, especially for people who enjoy the comforts of home, like…
Sleeping in tents.
Using portable toilets.
Smelling and looking terrible.
Lack of booze and or food choices.
Sleeping in tents.
Sleeping in tents.
Cutoff from outside world.
Hearing other people at night.
One more for sleeping in tents in the rain.
This was not one of those festivals. As we rocked up to the massive W Hotel Barcelona on Friday Afternoon, the lobby was buzzing. And not just because we were at a W Hotel in one of the party capitols of the world. The festival was open to locals via day passes, and to anyone who booked a room for the festival. Points packages were available via Marriott moments as well. We checked into our room, made the 10 step walk over to the festival check in and grabbed our unobtrusive wrist bands. Unlike any other music festival, the stage, and where we were spending the night were an elevator ride away, and where we were spending the night was not a tent, but a five star hotel room.
Pool time? Oh, Yes. With the festival not kicking into full gear until later in the evening, we hit the famous “wet deck” for a spot of sun, drink and cool down from the Barcelona heat. We were not fenced in like caged animals, and when pool time was sufficiently complete, it was up to the room for a quick change and an afternoon on the town. Already – this was not the traditional music fest experience. As nighttime set in along the beach, we could see the line emerging for day passes. Staying at the hotel was not mandatory, and many fans were coming in for the night. If you were on the fence about attending a “Wake Up Call” Festival, the people watching is worth the price of admission alone.
Almost forgot – the food. There just aren’t enough decent food options in Barcelona, said no one ever, and with the festival taking place in the city, with open access to come and go – food was everywhere. It was hard to venture past Bravo by Michelin Starred chef Carles Abellan, at the W itself, but somehow we managed on a couple of occasions. And drinks… there were plenty of opportunities, and we’re not talking Bud Light either, though it was undoubtedly sold somewhere.
Friday night meant Robin Schulz, Thomas Jack and Gorgon City, three major acts in electronic music. Afterparties in the 360° rooftop club apparently ran all night, but since we booked one of the free workout classes included in the festival, we made our way to bed at the ripe hour of midnight. Upon arrival to the Urban Gorillas boot camp style workout, we couldn’t help but laugh. The workout was on a deck of the hotel, with an open bar, including mimosas and cleanses. Life is all about balance, after all. The workout was excellent, and not surprisingly, attendance was low given the evening before – so we did back to back classes to pre pay for the carnage ahead.
To use a cheesy music term, if there’s any X-factor to the “Wake Up Call” music festival, it’s gotta be the flexibility. Want to change outfits? You’re only a short walk from the elevator to your sound proof room. Want to skip a few acts and venture into the city? You’re already there. Want to drink the Cava you bought in town with friends in your room? You can do that too. And yes, the toilet thing is priceless, and anyone who’s been to an outdoor festival will get that. Too much fun the night before and need a nap? You can leave the festival downstairs and enjoy your air conditioned room with 300+ count Egyptian cotton threads. Oh, and everyone had breakfast included, which is lovely.
Saturday was the big day, and Barcelona provided a truly beautiful backdrop for the affair. After the workouts, we explored Barcelona. While wandering, we had the brilliant idea to reserve a table at Bravo, which shared the VIP deck above the main festival area. We could hear the tunes, see the happy and sometimes stare worthy crowd, all while enjoying some of the best tapas food in recent memory. The wine, pretty fantastic as well.
Our dinner wrapped up just as Black Coffee finished his popular set, and Martin Solveig took over. Pouring through hit after hit, the crowd was electric, and the palm trees behind the W Barcelona’s beach – accompanied by fireworks made for the ultimate night. Even if the musical acts weren’t for you, it’s hard to see how the scene couldn’t have been. And again, the people watching was pure gold. Imagine Ibiza, then double it.
When Marriott announced the Wake Up Call concept, with festivals in Hollywood, Barcelona, Bali and Dubai, it ticked all the boxes. It sounded simply incredible, and after two highly amusing, infectiously buzzy nights in Barcelona, we can officially say the concept is better than it even sounded. It’s hard to imagine having that much fun without an amazing hotel room only steps away, and that’s entirely the point. Perhaps another one is in store? We’ll soon see…
Will you check out a future Wake Up Call Festival?
Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...
More by Gilbert Ott
Travel Better, For Less
Stay up to date on everything travel, with our handy newsletter