Swim-up bars become legal in Michigan after Whitmer signs two bills

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed House Bills 5983 and 5984 on Tuesday, which allow swim-up bars in Michigan for the first time. The Bavarian Inn Lodge in Frankenmuth has supported the bills.

“This will enable hospitality business operators the opportunity to provide a new experience for their guests which will boost the Michigan tourism industry,” said Michael Zehnder, owner of the Bavarian Inn Lodge.


Twenty-four other states already allow swim-up bars, including Ohio. Democrat State Rep. John Cherry of Flint said the new bills will put Michigan hotels and resorts on par with others in neighboring states.

“Offering unique experiences for families and visitors in a safe, well-regulated manner is an important goal as we look toward the future of Michigan’s hospitality industry,” he said. “I’m proud to work with my colleagues to offer these new opportunities for economic expansion, giving a boost to Mid-Michigan businesses.”

Republican State Rep. Rodney Wakeman of Frankenmuth sponsored the other bill in the package.

The bills require hotels or resorts to pay a $350 fee before opening a poolside bar. They also spell out requirements for nonbreakable beverage containers, enhanced water quality or filtration measures, and mandatory lifeguard coverage.

Zehnder has said that hotels and resorts in Michigan may not be racing to install poolside bars. He believes building a new pool specifically for a bar would be less costly than retrofitting an existing pool to meet requirements.

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