A popular hotel on Koh Chang and an American being sued over his negative reviews of it have agreed to meet and try to resolve the dispute next week.
Pholkrit Ratanawong, managing director of Sea View Koh Chang, told the media yesterday that the meeting would take place at the hotel on 8th October.
The American, Wesley Barnes, also confirmed the meeting yesterday, telling Reuters he hoped it would bring an end to the unpleasant episode.
Mr Barnes was arrested by immigration police and detained on the island before being bailed on a charge of defamation, according to reports by foreign media. If convicted, he faces up to two years in prison and a maximum fine of 200,000 baht.
Mr Ratanawong said the American would need to retract his claims. “We want the disputed party to stop the damage by deleting the old reviews and clarify that his comments were not entirely about his experience with our service,” he said.
“If he had only commented about our service, that would have been fine. But there were accusations. That’s why we filed a defamation lawsuit.”
The content of Mr Barnes’ reviews allegedly contained accusations of slavery at the hotel and a racist comment about a hotel restaurant staff member, who is Czech.
Following the contentious review, the hotel was criticised about “how badly hotel staff were treated” and several bookings were cancelled, said Mr Ratanawong. He also said that foreign staff had been threatened following media attention.
Other foreigners had posted negative reviews about Sea View Koh Chang but other hotels with the name “Sea View” had also been affected, said Mr Ratanawong, even though they had no connection with his resort.
Mr Barnes checked in to the hotel on 27th June and spent one night there.
Mr Ratanawong said a dispute arose when Mr Barnes refused to pay a 500-baht corkage fee applied for a bottle of gin he took with him into the hotel restaurant.
He had also posted four reviews on TripAdvisor since 29th June, Mr Ratanawong said.