April 30, 2022

So You're Thinking about Going to BTTI...

With the recent announcement of the next BTTI, I've seen a lot of questions from hopeful first-time attendees and thought it might be helpful to write a more logistical post in addition to the reviews I've shared in the past. Think of this as a practical overview of what to expect in place of my usual fangirling and gushing about how much you'll love the shows. (Spoiler: you're also going to love the shows).

Booking Your Room

It's no secret that repeaters who have been to previous BTTIs get first dibs on rooms based on the number of times they've attended. I know this can be intimidating and give the impression that the event could sell out before the public sale date, but the good news is that this has never actually happened. What will happen, though, is certain room types start to sell out. You may not be able to get your first choice of room type, but there are no bad rooms anywhere, and you get to participate in everything regardless of which room you choose. Rooms do go really quickly as soon as the public sale begins, so do your best to plan accordingly.

If you can't book right away and rooms do sell out before you have a chance, this doesn't mean you're just out of luck until the next one. Island Gigs offers a waiting list and continues to contact people in order as rooms open up, and fans are also allowed to sell their own rooms when their plans change. This always happens, and every single year fans buy last minute rooms from each other. If you're serious about going, keep an eye out, ask around, and keep saving like you're going. You might have to wait a few months, but odds are good that you'll find a room if you don't give up.

You'll need a $400 deposit up front if you have a roommate, or an $800 deposit if you plan to room alone or find a roommate later. If you have a roommate, only one of you needs to initiate the booking process. Sale dates, payment plan info, and more can be found on the official BTTI page on hnet.

You and your roommate also need to be active fan club members at the time of the event to attend, but let's be real: if you're prepared to spend $2k+ on a trip to see Hanson, a $50 membership should not be your hill to die on.

Planning Your Travel

When you book your room, you are paying for your stay at an all-inclusive resort, meaning food and drinks are covered, but your flight to the event is not. No matter where you're coming from, you'll need to fly into Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay (MBJ). Once you arrive, Island Gigs will arrange bus transportation from MBJ to the resort as long as you are not spending extra nights elsewhere (meaning if you plan to fly in 3 days before the event and stay at a cheaper resort before going to BTTI, you have to figure out your own transportation to the BTTI resort. I have never done this, but I'm sure other fans could offer advice). 

I have seen customs in MBJ have no line whatsoever, and I have spent two hours in line waiting to be let through. There's no way to know what version you will get, so if you are flying in the day of the first show, plan for potential delays. The resort is about an hour and a half drive from the airport, and the only event on the first day is the concert around 9-10pm.

For return flights, nothing is ever planned on the final day of the event dates, so you are safe to leave without missing anything (ex. BTTI 2025 is Jan 9-13. They won't plan any events for the 13th, so you are safe to fly home any time that day). However, the dance party the night before is known to run late. With that hour and a half drive to the airport and the additional time you should arrive before your flight, do yourself a favor and don't pick the first flight out. They'll put you on a bus at least three hours before your flight time if not sooner.

Resort Life

If you're familiar with the concept of "Hanson Time," you can thank them for preparing you for Jamaica Time as well. It's not that things are necessarily running behind schedule or on a time crunch, but more of a laid back, everything will happen when it happens and be fine sort of vibe. Your room service, dinner at a specialty restaurant, or those extra towels you called and asked for might take their time showing up. Go ahead and accept this, remember that you're on vacation, and try to relax.

Another good thing to know about the resort is that it is pretty spread out, and each building has three levels and no elevators. You might be doing a fair amount of walking depending on where your room is, so getting down to the beach and realizing you left your sunglasses on the bed might be the moment you decide you didn't really need them anyway. It's not a mile walk or anything, but something to be aware of if you're used to one big hotel with everything in one building...or if your knees don't like stairs. 

And that bed you left your hypothetical sunglasses on? It's either going to be a single king bed or two twins. You can't specify which one you want when you book, and requests aren't guaranteed. If you're rooming with a spouse or a stranger and have a strong bed preference, you'll probably want to reach out and try to put in a request anyway. 

Shows & Events

One of my favorite things about BTTI is it feels so much more relaxed and calm compared to tour shows. I'm not saying the crowd is quiet or that the music is all mellow, but that anxious "I need to get to the venue" and "I need to get in line" feeling doesn't exist. Traffic can't make you late. You don't have to worry about a bag check at doors. There ARE no doors. You don't have to stand through the opener or even show up to their show if you don't feel like it. There are no lines (except for the M&G photo). Some will choose to wait longer by the stage for a good spot, but most show up right before the show. The stage is on the beach, and there is plenty of room to spread out in the sand. You can stroll right out of the pool, throw on a coverup, and roll up to the stage area five minutes before show time while double fisting ice cream cones or daiquiris if that's what you want.

Side Excursions

If you prefer some exploration alongside your relaxation, there are optional side excursions arranged by Island Gigs for an additional fee. These options may appear on the booking page when you reserve your room but can also be added at a later date right up until the event begins as long as there is still space. (My memory is murky here. They may not be offered at all when you book your room and only show up later. I just know you don't have to book them right away.) Most involve water and a certain level of physical activity. Below are a few examples from previous years:

Dunn's River Falls
Blue Hole Adventure Tour
Bob Marley's 9 Mile Tour
Martha Brae River Rafting

If you're interested in something not offered by Island Gigs or prefer to do an excursion on an extra day outside of the time offered to us, you can also contact the resort or ask in person once you arrive. One year I came a day early and randomly wound up swimming in the Luminous Lagoon because I asked the front desk what was available and it sounded fun.

Pro-tips for Dunn's River Falls:  
1. Bring your own water shoes and a towel for after.
2. Wear a swimsuit and don't carry any electronics that can't get wet. There are moments you may be fully submerged. You can rent a locker for anything that needs to stay dry.
3. Beware of aggressive selling techniques for souvenirs and be prepared to give a polite but firm "no thanks" if you're not interested in buying. Some of the sellers will try to grab your hand or put merchandise in it and ask for payment if you're not prepared. 

Is It Worth It?

I can't answer this for you. If you love Hanson's music and relaxing on the beach, almost definitely yes. If you want to go to spend time with friends or with the possibility of coming home with a few new ones, also yes. If your idea of the perfect vacation includes bringing your spouse and kids and doesn't include sand or swimsuits, then this one's not for you (the event is 18+ and all rooms have a maximum capacity of two).

The other thing you should know is that if the thought of spending time with Hanson on a beach is factoring into your decision at all, the only guaranteed face time we get with the band is during the M&G photo. Some fans have been lucky enough to run into one of them and have a conversation at other moments during the event, but you're not going to find a Hanson lounging in a chair by the pool or find yourself seated next to them at dinner. That being said, they are incredibly kind and gracious to greet every one of us attending, and the M&G photos are a "holy grail" opportunity you really can't get anywhere else. The trip is what you make of it, and if you show up with an expectation to have fun with fellow fans while relaxing on the beach and listening to great music, then you're going to have an amazing time.

The real answer here is if you have been considering going for a while and have just never taken the plunge, I think it's worth trying at least once. The worst thing that can happen is you realize you don't love it as much as you thought you would, and then you can save up for a different vacation next time without having to always wonder if you've been missing out. The other worst best thing that can happen is you realize you have been missing out, and now you can't imagine not going every year. Fair warning...it's called BACK to the Island for a reason. 😉

And if you do want all the sentimental/FOMO reasons you should go, I've got you covered:

BTTI 2013
BTTI 2014
BTTI 2015
BTTI 2016
BTTI 2017
BTTI 2018
BTTI 2019
BTTI 2020
BTTI 2022
BTTI 2023
BTTI 2024
Packing List
HDay vs BTTI
How To Tell Your Loved One That You're Going To Jamaica

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This is such a good post! Thank you for sharing!! There's no way I'll be able to afford BTTI for 2023 but it's a bucket list goal to get there at least once!

I'm really looking forward to you're Hanson Day/White Rabbit & Red Green Blue album reviews!