Westin has to lift access-ban SHTA-President Emil Lee

POSTED: 10/1/12 12:47 PM

St. Maarten – The Westin Hotel has to admit St. Maarten Hospitality and Trade President and Princess Heights Hotel manager Emil Lee immediately to the public areas of its hotel and to events for which Lee has an invitation, the Court in First Instance has ruled. The Westin was incorrect when it refused Lee access during the St. Maarten annual regional trade show Smart last year, and to the Governor’s reception in November for H.M. Queen Beatrix, crown prince Willem-Alexander and Princess Maxima.

The Westin has to pay Lee $500 for every day it does not comply with the court ruling; the maximum for aggregated penalties is $25,000.

In May of last year, the Westin banned Lee from its premises because of a legal dispute. The Westin is violating its hindrance permit for the use of its generator and cooling towers, according to Lee, who manages the Princess Heights Hotel across from the Westin. He has taken his neighbor to court over the noise pollution this causes.

“As President of SHTA, I am often invited to official receptions and meetings, some of which are held at the Westin.” Lee stated in a press release. “Because I choose to defend my legal rights to peaceful enjoyment of my home and business, the Westin has looked for any means possible to harass and embarrass me. I have never done anything other than speak the truth and defend my rights and for this the Westin has sought to “punish” me. I refuse to be bullied into subjugating my rights. The purpose of the lawsuit was never about financial compensation. It was about standing up for your rights. It was about refusing to be intimidated.”

This could be considered that businesses in principle have the right to deny a third party access to its premises. But apart from rooms and offices, a hotel is a public place, the court ruled. Among these public spaces are the lobby, hallways, shops and restaurants.

“Seeing the characteristics of this hotel, denying Lee access can only be imposed when a reasonable threat exists that Lee will behave unlawfully towards Westin or one or more persons on their premises. There is no evidence substantiating that Lee is threatening or destructive,” the court ruled.

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