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American Traveler May Face 2 Years in Thai Prison For Negative Hotel Review

Source: Fox News

One man might be jailed over bad reviews of a Thailand hotel, possibly facing up to two years behind bars for the critique.

Wesley Barnes is being sued by Sea View Resort after penning a negative post with a one-star review on Tripadvisor, the AFP reported on Saturday. The Koh Chang island hotel claims that the American man has written multiple reviews across different sites, denouncing its business.

"The staff was not friendly. Nobody could smile,” a Tripadvisor review by Barnes reportedly said, according to a screenshot travel blogger Richard Barrow tweeted on Saturday. “The restaurant manager was very rude and full of himself. He is from the Czech Republic. There are other hotels with better-friendlier staff. Avoid this place as if it was the coronavirus!"

Colonel Thanapon Taemsara of the Koh Chang police confirmed that the hotel would be pressing charges, with Barnes accused of damaging Sea View’s reputation and arguing with staff about not wanting to pay a corkage fee for alcohol he brought to the resort.

“The Sea View Resort owner filed a complaint that the defendant had posted unfair reviews on his hotel on the Tripadvisor website," Taemsara told the AFP.

Officials for Sea View say that they are suing Barnes because he has slammed the resort on multiple websites in recent weeks. In June, the man allegedly accused the resort of “modern day slavery,” which was soon removed from Tripadvisor for violating the travel website’s guidelines.

Thailand’s infamous anti-defamation laws have long drawn the ire of human rights groups; if Barnes is sentenced, he could be sent to two years in prison and fined about $6,315 (200,000 baht).

Okay so here is the actual review. 

and then the one that was deleted from Trip Advisor, along with the fucking arrest report…

There is this one too: 

As far as I can tell, Wesley B :
-Really values a smile from hospitality staff
-DOES NOT like the restaurant manager (who happens to be from the Czech Republic)
-Takes issue with the idea of having to pay a corkage fee to drink his own booze

Let's tackle the non-smile from the Czech restaurant manager… at first read it might appear that Wesley B is anti-Czech, not cool, especially considering the Czech Republic is next level prolific when it comes to exporting some of the world's finest models. But after doing a little digging, I think this part of the negative review might have just been a cultural misunderstanding. Apparently the "Czech Smile" is a thing. According to The Prague Visitor Magazine

"The Czech smile is often a slight upturn of closed lips. The average resting face may even appear upset at first glance, but this is just because smiles are reserved for sincere interactions. And don’t be put off by a downturned frown with what could be mistaken for a disapproving “hmmph” when speaking with locals. This is just the sound of active listening among Czechs."

They even put together a helpful graphic to illustrate the differences in how Czech's and American's express warmth

**Authors Note: If you have a friend who goes way to hard on Dad Jokes (to the point where it is detrimental to his game and your friendship) but you don't have the heart to tell him, planning a buddy trip to the Czech Republic might be just what the doctor ordered

Now to the corkage fee, if you're unfamiliar a lot of restaurants, specifically resorts, will charge you a fee if you want to bring your own bottle of booze to drink on their premises. In this case the resort's corkage fee is 500 Bhat, aka $15.81. Apparently Wesley B threw a bitch fit which resulted in him not having to pay the fee, so a point in the favor of resort's hospitality dept. Next time pay the fucking fee Wesley. 

The whole thing seems like a he-said-she-said. Regardless of whether the manager smiled or not, 2 years in a Thai prison for a negative review is a bit much. Then again this is the same country that sentenced the owners of a seafood restaurant to almost 1,500 years for offering offering tickets to their seafood buffet at rock bottom prices that they ended up not being able to honor. You have to admire a country that takes the sanctity of their buffet coupons so seriously. 

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According to a Facebook post made by Wesley B's buddy, the Thai authorities picked Wesley B up at school and drove him 155 miles to a jail where he spent the weekend before bailing out. 

Trip Advisor issued a statement seemingly not giving a shit

“Tripadvisor is opposed to the idea that a traveler can be prosecuted for expressing opinions. Thankfully, on a global basis, prosecutions like this are rare and hundreds of millions of travelers are able to express themselves freely without facing criminal charges."

Realizing that having guests who had a bad time at their hotel potentially being thrown in prison is a bad look for a hospitality based business, the Sea View Resort & Spa Koh Chang issued a press release (full release here) defending their position. Apparently they felt like comparing staying at their hotel to "modern slavery" really stuck in their craw. Maybe the lady doth protest too much?