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TripAdvisor slaps warning on Thailand’s ‘Sea View Resort & Spa’ review page

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Be careful if you want to trash a Thai hotel in the land of fragile egos who use the handy tools of eager lawyers and draconian libel laws. Now TripAdvisor, the review website everyone loves to hate, is warning potential travellers to a particular Thai hotel that they could face severe consequences for sharing negative opinions about their experience.

One visitor, Wesley Barnes from the US, was arrested after he waxed lyrical in his opinions about poor service at the particular establishment. Mr. Barnes was freed and eventually apologised in a settlement between him and the hotel. But TripAdvisor slapped this notice on the hotel’s listing…

TripAdvisor slaps warning on Thailand's 'Sea View Resort & Spa' review page | News by Thaiger

Just in case you are warming up your fingers for a quick critique, this listing for the Sea View Resort & Spa in Koh Chang now includes a blatant warning.

“The reviewer spent time in jail as a result.”

Management at the hotel made an official complaint to the local police about the critique at the time. Mr. Barnes’ review strayed somewhat from the usual commentary about dirty bathrooms and cold soup to include “modern day slavery”. The resort’s management claimed that it had first tried to reach Mr. Barnes directly to “resolve the matter”, but took legal action because other reviews had been posted across different platforms, a few weeks apart.

At the time he was facing 2 years in a Thai prison after posting his negative online reviews about the Sea View Resort & Spa. Barnes, who works in Thailand, reported that he was arrested at the time by immigration police and that his passport had been confiscated until the matter was resolved.

Mr. Barnes stayed at the resort in June and had a disagreement with restaurant staff who tried to charge a corkage fee for alcohol he had brought on to the premises. He also added later that he felt the hotel’s management “were aggressive”.

Koh Chang police confirmed that an official complaint had been filed and that Mr. Barnes was accused of causing “damage to the reputation of the hotel”, and of bickering with staff about the corkage fee.

After weeks of media attention, local and international, and 1000s of online comments over the matter, the resort agreed to drop the police complaint if Mr. Barnes apologised and could convinced TripAdvisor not to display a “red badge” on the hotel’s TripAdvisor listing, which “could harm its business”.

The hotel’s use of Thailand’s notoriously tough libel and defamation laws rattled TripAdvisor, which now displays a clear warning about negative reviews that could land you in jail as a result of criminal charges filed by the hotel’s management.

“The hotel may have been exercising its legal rights under local law, however, it is our role to inform you so you may take this into consideration when researching your travel plans.”

The hotel has issued a statement accusing Tripadvisor of breaking its part of the settlement that was reached with Wesley Barnes.

“We fail to understand how Tripadvisor going back on their word, and not being impartial, is helpful to any of the parties involved in this case,” the resort’s manage responded in a statement to the NY Times.

By the way, if you want to visit the Sea View Resort and Spa Koh Chang in the middle of December, we randomly chose a date on Bookings.com and found a room for 2,900 baht a night. Have a great time, but don’t argue about the corkage!

 

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19 Comments

19 Comments

  1. Avatar

    SG666

    Thursday, November 12, 2020 at 9:36 am

    Great move from Tripadvisor, any future guest of this place should be informed about potential risks.

    ,,The hotel has issued a statement accusing Tripadvisor of breaking its part of the settlement that was reached with Wesley Barnes,,

    LOL… this dodgy agreement was reached between Mr.Barnes and the Hotel and NOT between Tripadvisor and the Hotel. So what ?

    Maybe the hotel sues Tripadvisor now ? Good Luck with that. 555

  2. Avatar

    Gion

    Thursday, November 12, 2020 at 9:55 am

    no matter whether the criticism was right or not, the reaction of the management was and is a disaster and now you will receive a receipt for your very stupid behavior. But this behavior is a common problem for Thai managers. In many cases they cannot stand criticism and they almost never accept them. you learn from mistakes that managers and executives prefer to remain silent about criticism and do not want to lose face. That was maybe 100 years ago, but in today’s modern world this behavior is a no go. if you as a manager or leader can’t stand criticism you should leave.

    • Avatar

      Kim

      Thursday, November 12, 2020 at 11:36 am

      Gion, its not only the Thai owners but also the foreign managers employed by this hotel owner. We have all experienced the dreadful foreign managers which believe they are the gift to humanity, simply because they now have the opportunity to be a manager at a Thai hotel, a position which they would probably never have achieve in a developed country with a MNC. The fact that the hotel owners/management were not in a position to articulate a counter to the guests review via tripadvisor evidences the guests claim. I’m glad that Tripadvisor has at last taken a stance and posted this advice online, so potential guests can read how ill-willed the hotel owner and the management is.

  3. Avatar

    Jesus Monroe

    Thursday, November 12, 2020 at 10:07 am

    Well you haven’t lost face…….only customers. LOL

  4. Avatar

    Peter

    Thursday, November 12, 2020 at 10:26 am

    Yet another great advertisement (not) for the resort by bringing the matter back into the public domain, it won’t go away now until there is a reprint of the publication. Unfortunately timed just when Thailand needs a boost to the tourist sector. This debacle won’t just affect the hotel, it will cast a shadow over the whole tourism sector. What was originally very minor incident, should never have been allowed to escalate to the extent it has.

  5. Avatar

    gosport

    Thursday, November 12, 2020 at 10:26 am

    It seems this hotel is in trouble defending its right of accusing a certain client using racism remark. I definitely will pick this hotel.

    • Avatar

      ray

      Thursday, November 12, 2020 at 6:22 pm

      I second this. Although the manager made a mistake by taking it to court he has my sympathy. Online booking companies and review websites bring out the worst in some. These self-styled Spanish Inquisitors decide about life or dead for hospitality businesses and they relish in it. I’ve dealt with more than a few and each of them had non-valid arguments. The review was used as a revenge. It was different some years ago but now all these online giants take the side of the reviewer, no matter how clear the evidence of the unfounded accusations. I hope they don’t survive the pandemic but I guess that’s wishful thinking.

    • Avatar

      Kim

      Thursday, November 12, 2020 at 7:35 pm

      It’s a 2 way street. There are also plenty of hospitality businesses which believe they are a 6 star provider but only provides what’s equal to 1 star and they use fake accounts to improve their ratings. How is it racist to mention that the fnb manager is Czech?

  6. Avatar

    Toby Andrews

    Thursday, November 12, 2020 at 11:24 am

    I think the whole thing is an absolute scandal. The remedy for the hotel was to simply ask Trip advisor to delete the offending post. There are guidelines and if the post breached these guidelines it could have been deleted by Trip advisor.
    The post was not deleted, and the hotel could have answered in trip advisor their version of events.
    Instead they took the ridiculous option of informing the police!
    The latest review for this place is: 5 stars it should be 3 stars.
    The hotel answered and stated, we are undergoing full renovation of the main lobby, superior rooms, and building a beach front pool bar.
    I submitted a question: As there is extensive renovation in progress, can a guest expect to hear screeching angle grinders at 8’oclock in the morning?
    I will with watch interest to see if it is published.

  7. Avatar

    EdwardV

    Thursday, November 12, 2020 at 1:57 pm

    I said when the first news broke, the hotels actions would cause more damage than some idiots review. Oh well you reap what you sow. As to trip advisor breaking its word, I don’t think so. Besides the fact they never gave their word to the hotel. Fact is they didn’t slap the hotel with “red badge”. They just posted their own advisory based on their own opinion. Couldn’t happen to a better hotel owner.

  8. Avatar

    Joe

    Thursday, November 12, 2020 at 2:49 pm

    By writing a good response to the complaint the resort could have turned the whole thing to it’s own advantage. For example they could have pointed out that the guest was being totally unreasonable by talking about this slave business. TripAdvisor is also in the wrong, why did they let the guest write many different complaints over a period of weeks? One complaint is enough. It was obvious the guest was taking personal revenge.

  9. Avatar

    Graham

    Thursday, November 12, 2020 at 2:51 pm

    Whilst visiting Phuket I sat down to eat in a beach side restaurant and did not receive what I had ordered. The waitress called the manager who was not on the premises. When he arrived he told me if I did not pay he would have to pay out of his own pocket!
    I felt justified in walking out.

  10. Avatar

    AI

    Thursday, November 12, 2020 at 3:33 pm

    Like a playground squabble has been transformed into a black mark on this place.
    Like Joe said, they (the resort) should have given a polite response to the (possible inebriated?) fella with a beef.
    It seems PR is definitely not a forte with the management on how to respond to criticism. TA as mentioned also, should have let the thing drop after one broadside and let them work it out civilly. Could even have offered him a one night free ticket or something. Bad publicity = just a bad idea and nothing goes forward.
    Egos……

  11. Avatar

    Josef

    Thursday, November 12, 2020 at 9:37 pm

    Mr. Barnes, US citizen, has been working in Thailand as a teacher. And a man like him quietly took a bottle of alcohol (the alcohol he bought somewhere in supemarket before) and placed it on the table of the hotel restaurant and wanted to drink it. After that was MR. Barnes warned by staff that he cannot consume the alcohol which he brought from outside into the hotel restaurant. And it was said to him it will be necessary to pay a corkage fee if he drinks it. And that is all story.
    The hurt US citizen Mr. Barnes (teacher!?) was probably used to bring bottles of alcohol with him into restaurants in USA. And suddenly somebody from developing country like Thailand is ask him for corkage! I am an American, who is more than me?
    I personally wish you Mr.Barnes, happy future in your houme coutry, you deserve it!

  12. Avatar

    Hooogie2000

    Friday, November 13, 2020 at 9:41 am

    I just love the new Thai lese majesty laws for tourism …just saving face fir the hiso vip owner but in really well done tripadvisor …should be put a general warning on all thai hotel websites as this is what thsi law permits !

    Hopefully tourism will move away to Vietnam Philippines Malaysia Singapore Bali so much more relaxing and welcoming without the scams and fragile thai egos …rip off taxis , also who wants to visit during mass demonstrations going on and get caught up …. they could even block airports like before as it’s escalates after covid . Which thai figures of 0 , are not believable whatsoever !

    They want Chinese tourists only not westerners unless 5star luxury money tourists only very clear !the message from them .

  13. Avatar

    Khun plastic

    Saturday, November 14, 2020 at 8:41 pm

    Trip advisor have done the right thing,both sides of the story have played out on the site.
    They are correct to warn
    Potential guest’s of the potential legal concuquences of any criticism of the hotel be it justified or not.

  14. Avatar

    Keith McCart

    Sunday, November 15, 2020 at 2:44 pm

    I have stayed at this hotel many times, twice recently. Its a top rate hotel and the staff are superb. We spoke to staff about this incident soon after when we first heard about it, they said the person was drunk and loud and argumentative and all started over him tasking his own bottle of spirits into their beachside bar restraint and refusing to pay corkage ( this is normal at all hotel bars ) they even gave in to him in the end and let him drink his own drinks. Whatever people dont be put off this is a super hotel with super staff. It wasn’t just criticising the hotel it was posting lies and causing them cancellations.
    An Expat living in Jomtien

    • Avatar

      Mike Frenchie

      Monday, November 16, 2020 at 2:50 pm

      Good to read but I will never take this risk anyway.
      One review amongst hundreds has zero value… nobody was cancelling because of that.

  15. Avatar

    Steve

    Saturday, November 21, 2020 at 12:29 pm

    Why are some Yanks so anal retentive and ignorant that they need to argue and cause a ruckus like this guy did, over a bloody corkage fee?! Should have let him stay in the can until he got over his holier than thou attitude!

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