Four-star hotel Boca Raton Resort, a Waldorf Collection hotel, may have just ruined its reputation after kicking out a popular YouTuber for his history of pranking. But will the hotel face any legal challenges?
YouTuber Vitaly Zdorovetskiy had plans to stay at the Boca Raton Resort on New Year’s Eve. His plan, so he says, was to say nice things about the hotel and its amenities. The vlogger’s popular YouTube channel has more than 9 million subscribers, and most of his videos are prank related.
Within just a few hours of checking in (and a few hours before midnight), Vitaly and his guest were asked to leave the Boca Raton Resort. The reason? The hotel disapproved of his pranking history.
Vitaly vlogged his encounter with the police and hotel security and posted it to his YouTube channel, asking his “villains,” or followers, to call the hotel and complain.
The question is: Was the hotel’s actions justified? Was it illegal to kick out a guest for no apparent reason?
Orlando-based attorney Cynthia Collin admits that this is a gray area but says the hotel has no obligation to respect freedom of speech.
“One issue is that, unlike a government entity, a private entity like a hotel is not obligated to respect the First Amendment Freedom of Speech,” she says. “Therefore, generally, a hotel can trespass a guest for almost any reason, even if it is because of bad reviews. There is no First Amendment right to freedom of speech on private property.”
Although the hotel is not obligated to respect the First Amendment Freedom of Speech, it may have been wrong in other ways.
“If I were to question the hotel’s actions, I would look at it based on a contract perspective,” Collin adds. “Did the vlogger pay a deposit to secure the room, which was accepted by the hotel? Was the vlogger able to find another room that evening? Or would he have been forced to pay a premium for a last-minute booking without a reservation at another hotel? If so, could the hotel be liable for the difference in the hotel prices? Maybe. There are often many gray areas in law because real-life facts are not always black and white. A lot of times, it just depends.”
Regardless of whether the hotel’s actions were justified, one thing is for sure: Their actions put a dent in its reputation. The Boca Raton Resort is now doing damage control to restore its good ratings on Yelp and Google.