BP denies oil spill compensation claims of Florida hotels

FLORIDA BP has denied compensation to at least a dozen Florida hotels for lost income, a state trade organization official says, raising the ire of local hoteliers who say the oil giant is reneging on promises to make them whole.

Keith Overton, chairman of the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association and chief operating officer of the TradeWinds Island Resorts, says BP is denying compensation claims because the hotels are located too far from the oil spill. The claim denials began last week, Overton says, following months of BP telling Florida hoteliers that they would be compensated.

In an interview with HOTELS, Overton says he is dumbfounded at BP’s argument that the oil spill has not negatively impacted the hotels’ business. “They’ve spent how many millions of dollars (on advertising) saying they’ll make it right, and then they deny these claims. The reason given was that oil was not on our beach and we are not close enough in proximity to the oil spill,” Overton says. “I am angry, and it’s incomprehensible that any hotel on the western side of Florida has not had any impact as a result of the oil spill.”

Overton’s 800-key TradeWinds resort on St. Pete Beach is among the hotels that has been denied compensation. TradeWinds claims it has lost US$1.7 million in revenue due to the spill. Hoteliers had expected BP to compensate them for lost profits; for TradeWinds, that amounts to approximately US$500,000.

Other hotels with rejected claims include Edgewater Beach Resort & Golf Club in Panama City and Doubletree North Redington Beach Resort in Pinellas County.

A BP spokesman has said that Florida hoteliers’ claims that negative perceptions of the area among travelers as a result of the oil spill “come under a slightly gray area.”

If BP does not change course and award the claims to impacted hotels, Overton says hoteliers are prepared to litigate. The hotel association is interviewing law firms this week in preparation for court cases, he says.