Pool lift law won't sink Grand Strand hotels

Grand Strand hotels have until Jan. 31 to comply with a rule requiring lifts on their swimming pools to accommodate disabled guests.

Hospitality officials say hotel operators may meet the deadline, but that doesn't mean the issue will be put to rest.

The new rule came out a few years ago under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Officials say installation of the device can cost up to $10,000 and complying with the law has been tough for some properties.

"Higher unemployment taxes, incoming health care issues, there's a lot of expenses that are hitting small businesses now and this is unfortunately another impact to their bottom line," said Stephen Greene, president of the Myrtle Beach Area Hospitality Association.

Still, Greene is confident Grand Strand hotels will meet the deadline to comply with the rule.

He's advising hotel operators to have something in place, even if they're not entirely certain it's in compliance.

"The Department of Justice is telling you, make sure you have a plan in place, make sure that it's reasonable," Greene said. "It may not have to be complete implementation right now, but you need to move forward as we go."

One hotel manager told WPDE NewsChannel 15 he's worried that kids may get hurt playing with the equipment. He's also not sure if the one portable lift he purchased to accommodate several pools complies with the letter of the law.

With concerns about liability and questions about portable versus fixed lifts, the deadline may pass, but Greene says, the issue is not going away.

"There's a lot of confusion on what's appropriate and what's not appropriate, so we're kind of have to go to have to go through that process, there's definitely still some inconsistencies out there."

Greene says hotel operators agree with the spirit of the law, but are concerned with how it impacts their bottom line.

"We all understand that these individuals need the same access to these bodies of water. We're just trying to make sure that it doesn't negatively impact the business community while also providing for these guests."