Hotel on Koh Chang 'ready to settle' in libel saga with guest

Hotel on Koh Chang 'ready to settle' in libel saga with guest

Sea View Koh Chang, a hotel on Koh Chang in Trat that is pursuing a defamation suit against an American teacher based in Thailand over his allegedly unfair reviews of the hotel, said on Wednesday it is ready to negotiate a settlement.

However, it has not heard anything from the man so far, Pholkrit Ratanawong, managing director of the company operating the hotel, told the Bangkok Post on Wednesday.

Wesley Barnes had previously been arrested by immigration police and detained on the island before being released on bail, according to reports by foreign media.

According to the Associated Press, Mr Barnes said on Tuesday he's anxious to end his dispute with the hotel, which could end up costing him a total of up to seven years in prison for defamation and violating the Computer Crime Act by posting allegedly false information online.

He told AP via an email on Tuesday he had been been trying to reach out to the hotel to resolve the issue and hoped it would be sorted out soon.

If convicted only of defamation, Mr Barnes faces a prison sentence of up to two years and a fine of up to 200,000 baht.

Mr Pholkrit said the hotel had tried various channels to contact Mr Barnes, including emails, telephone calls and communicating via the websites on which he posted his reviews.

Following the reviews, the hotel had received enquiries and criticism about "how badly hotel staff were treated", which ended up in several bookings being cancelled. This is why the hotel had to file charges against Mr Barnes, Mr Pholkrit said.

Mr Barnes checked in to the hotel on June 27 and spent one night there, Mr Pholkrit said.

A quarrel erupted when Mr Barnes refused to pay a 500-baht corkage fee applied for gin he had brought to the hotel, Mr Pholkrit said.

The restaurant manager was later called in to handle the matter, said Mr Pholkrit, adding that the manager had agreed to waive the fee for the customer to avoid disturbing other guests.

Mr Barnes posted reviews of the hotel on the internet including four reviews on TripAdvisor since June 29, Mr Pholkrit claimed.

The content of his reviews allegedly contained accusations of slavery at the hotel and a racist comment about a hotel restaurant staff member who is Czech.

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