As hoteliers face the March 15 compliance deadlines for federal laws regulating Americans with Disabilities Act standards, they must make sure they’re investing in the right new products.
In January we reported on how the new regulations will affect hotels, and hoteliers shared tips on how they were approaching compliance. One particularly costly ADA-compliance regulation mandates that swimming pools with less than 300 feet of wall space need a sloped entrance or a pool lift, and pools with more than 300 feet of wall space must have at least two means of entry, one of which must be a lift or sloped entry.
That translates into high expenses, especially for smaller properties.
“If I’m a small hotel that is making plans to install a pool or hot tub, or I have one that needs repairs, the new regulations may be the deciding factor that puts a stop to my efforts,” said Dale Papke, president of HydroTher Spa. Papke sees the regulations going into effect in March as bad timing during a recovering business economy, but also understands their necessity. “It’s wonderful news for people with disabilities, and we need to cater to that group,” he said.
Despite the necessity, hoteliers and manufacturers are concerned that misinformation is spreading about products that do and do not meet compliance guidelines.
“You have to buy from a specialist in order to be sure of your compliance,” Papke said. “Purchasing a pool lift requires a detail-oriented knowledge of state and country codes, and we want to see your blueprints, too. It isn’t something that you want to buy off of eBay.”
ADA defense and compliance lawyer Martin Orlick, of Jeffer Mangels Butler and Mitchell, writes in JMBM's Hotel Law Blog that hoteliers should "be leery of pool lift vendors who represent that their lifts, particularly portable pool lifts, are ADA 'certified' or 'ADA compliant' or that their lifts 'meet all ADA Guidelines.'" It's critical to be aware of the DOJ's official requirements for pool lifts, he writes, and know your responsibilities as a hotel owner and operator.
Are hoteliers ready?
When the new ADA regulations go into effect March 15, all hoteliers in the United States are expected to be compliant. However, the regulations cover everything from highly visible changes in spas, to changes in the inner workings of a hotel’s check-in service. With so many bases to cover, is it possible hoteliers are missing some things?
“I would say that the hotel industry is one that would be quick to comply and be prepared for the ADA regulations, compared to something like the spa industry,” said Dale Papke, president of HydroTher Spa. “The hotel industry has a variety of magazines keeping [hotels] informed of issues like this, and they might have a better handle on big changes, whereas with spas and health clubs, I don’t see it being addressed as much.”
“Hotels have been ahead of the curve when it comes to looking at risk management,” said Abbie Sladick, president of Great Grabz. “When it comes to hotels with recently remodeled rooms, they don’t always just want the standard, I see them taking their time to remodel well.”