Hotels

Tourist faces two-year jail sentence for negative resort reviews

An American tourist is reportedly being threatened with legal action after writing negative reviews about a hotel.

According to multiple reports, Wesley Barnes, an American who works in Thailand, allegedly wrote several damning reviews about Sea View Resort, a World Luxury Hotel Awards and 2020 Tripadvisor Travellers’ Choice winner found on Koh Chang.

In one review, The Independent reported, Barnes wrote that staff were “unfriendly” and acted “like they don’t want anyone here”. While in another, which has been taken down by Tripadvisor for violating its guidelines, Barnes accused the resort of “modern-day slavery”.

The hotel responded with legal action, accusing Barnes of causing “damage to the reputation of the hotel”.

“We chose to file a complaint to serve as a deterrent, as we understood he may continue to write negative reviews week after week for the foreseeable future,” the resort said in a statement obtained by The Independent.

It added that Barnes’ comments included “xenophobic connotations, accusations of slavery and even comments that could mislead readers to associate our property with the coronavirus”.

Sea View Resort also claimed that it had contacted Barnes prior to taking legal action.

“Despite our multiple efforts to contact him to resolve this in an amicable way for well over a month, he chose to ignore us completely. He only replied to emails, messages on reviews sites, etc. once he had been notified of our complaint by authorities.”

Colonel Thanapon Taemsara of Koh Chang police confirmed to Agence France-Presse that Sea View Resort’s owner had filed a complaint about the incidents.

According to The Independent, Barnes was arrested and briefly detained in Koh Chang, but has now been released on bail.

However, he now faces a possible sentence of up to two years’ jail time and fines of up to 200,000 baht (around $8,888), if convicted under Thailand’s defamation laws.


Featured image source: Sea View Resort

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