You may believe it's an infringement on your rights as a property owner. It's confusing, time consuming and probably expensive. But no matter, come next spring new Americans with Disabilities regulations take effect, and you and your hotels had better be ready. And while complying with the new regs may cost you money, it could be insignificant compared to what will happen if you ignore the new rules.
The legal team at Los Angeles-based JMBM has been sounding the alarm about the new regulations for most of the year. Their hotel law blog is a good ongoing resource on this and other lodging legal issues. A recent blog posting provides an understandable overview of what you need to consider before the March 15 deadline. The Department of Justice also has detailed information on what's expected. However, if you have any questions about the new edicts, reading a blog post isn't enough. You should consult a legal expert or a consultant specializing in the complexities of ADA compliance. Your brand headquarters, state hotel association, the AH&LA or AAHOA are other possible sources of information.
A couple of key points to remember:
• No hotel or other facility will be “grandfathered” under the rules. Meaning even if your property was built before the original passage of the ADA (1990), you must still comply with the new rules.
• A hotel's recreation areas—fitness centers, golf courses, pools, steam and sauna rooms, etc.—are particular targets of the new regs, but the law also covers communications¬—res systems, websites and phone service—as well as policies toward guest use of service animals and more.
• The regulations cover all types of public accommodations, including hotels, motels, resorts, condo hotels, timeshare facilities and restaurants.
As I mentioned earlier, there is no hiding from this reality. Compliance must be made in a little more than three months. As the lawyers from JMBM wrote last month in their blog: “If you're not well into your compliance program now, you may have some serious compliance challenges soon.”
Don't hesitate. Take action now, if you already haven't done so.