February 16, 2022

Martin Aquatic Supporting Legislation to Allow Swim Up Bars in Florida

The Florida House of Representatives is moving forward on a bill that would add another feather to the cap of the Sunshine State’s tourism industry.

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A major change to the Florida Building Code could pave the way for swim up bars, thanks to new legislation introduced by state lawmakers and backed by Martin Aquatic Design & Engineering. Having designed and engineered numerous aquatic bars outside of Florida, the expert team of engineers from Martin Aquatic worked with government relations consultants to propose provisions for allowing this amenity—currently prohibited by code—to be built and operated safely.

The two lawmakers who have authored bills in support—Rep. David Smith (Winter Springs) and Sen. Ed Hooper (Palm Harbor)—both see the benefit for Florida hotels, theme parks, and entertainment venues to offer swim-up bars. “…It’s hard to believe (as) a top tourist destination that’s an amenity we don’t currently have in Florida,” said Smith in a recent article from Florida Politics. The House bill has been approved to move forward into one last committee vote.

“For years our Florida-based clients have wanted to do what we were already designing at other places around the country and the world,” said Josh Martin, president & creative director of Martin Aquatic. “We’re proud to spearhead the effort and work with forward-thinking legislators who—like us—want our state to remain at the top of the vacation tourism industry.”

The longstanding laws against such amenities primarily concern swimmer safety. But Martin Aquatic is using its experience designing swim-up bars elsewhere to insert conditions where they could be safely operated. Those conditions include: signage requirements, on-duty lifeguards, prohibition of glass, a maximum depth, and enhanced water filtration and treatment among other rules.

Martin Aquatic is no stranger to bettering the pool industry through code changes. Another aquatic amenity that Florida commercial pools were prohibited from building were sunshelves—shallow ledges for lounging or playing with children. Seeing the demand from its clients to design those features, Martin Aquatic started working with the officials that oversee the Florida Building Code in 2015 to develop rules that would allow sunshelves. After a two-year process, those measures were adopted at the end of 2017, and now Florida hotels, aquatic centers, and other properties can offer this great amenity to their guests.

To learn more about the potential for this change to allow Swim-Up Bars, read the full article from Florida Politics.