As of SMART in May of 2011, The Westin has banned Mr. Lee from entering their hotel under any circumstances even in the case of invitation by clients that have rented facilities at the Westin. The dispute revolves around an ongoing lawsuit whereby Princess Heights Hotel is suing the Westin for violation of their hindrance permit with regards to the noise and hours of operation of their generator and cooling towers. Because of this, the Westin has banned Mr. Lee from entering the Westin Hotel on two occasions amongst which the reception hosted by the Governor of Sint Maarten on the occasion of the Royal visit to which Lee was invited.
"As President of SHTA, I am often invited to official receptions and meetings, some of which are held at the Westin. 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." Said Emil Lee
The court's reasoning was that in principle a business has the right to deny a third party access to its premises. But a hotel is a public place, that obviously does not go for its rooms, offices etc but is does for its lobby, hallways, shops and restaurants.(as well as facilities such as spa and function rooms when contracted out) Same goes for rented out spaces in case the renter allows one access. Seeing the characteristics of this hotel (*), a denial of access (of Lee) to the hotel can only be imposed when circumstances come up in which case Westin cannot in any reasonable way be required to allow access in case 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 in anyway threatening or destructive. Therefore.....
The ruling by the court was as follows:
- The Westin was incorrect in denying access during SMART 2011 and the Royal Reception of November 2011.
- The Westin is ordered to allow Lee access to events in the hotel for which he can show an invitation or ticket as well as to public areas of the hotel.
- Westin is ordered to pay Lee $500 for every day or part thereof in noncompliance to a maximum of $25,000 USD.
- Westin is ordered to pay for Lee's portion of the legal procedure as well as salary of lawyers,
- Judgment is effective immediately.
In closing Mr. Lee stated, "I would like to thank my lawyer, Jeroen Veen of Lexwell, for his passion and effort to successfully defend my rights. I am happy that this chapter of a distasteful dispute is over. Ultimately, my hope is that we can all move forward and operate peacefully in an atmosphere of mutual respect."