HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WBTW) — A nearly three-decade-old South Carolina law allows Grand Strand hotels to turn away local residents seeking a “staycation.”

Max Neubauer, a local resident, found out about the 1994 Lodging Establish Act when he went online and tried to book a stay at the North Beach Plantation for himself and his wife. He was met with a message that said reservations were not allowed for Horry or Georgetown county residents.

“When I saw that, I was like, well, I better call to make sure if that’s real, what kind of policy that really is,” ” Neubauer said. “And when I called and spoke to the lady, she said, yes, unfortunately, if you live here in Horry or Georgetown County, we’re forbidden to, we’re not permitted to rent to you. And I said, are you sure? Like, that just kind of threw me off. I just, that was the last thing I anticipated.”

That led him to post about what had happened on Facebook. The post garnered more than 1,000 comments.

The law was passed for safety reasons, specifically, to cut back on overcrowded rooms, big parties and, even, to try and put a stop to human trafficking. It says that as long as a hotel isn’t discriminating on the basis of race, gender, marital status or age, a hotel can turn away any potential guest.

“It’s just, like, unfortunate for those like my wife and I who were just going to try to have a quiet getaway, to not be, to not be allowed to do that, you know?” Newbauer said.

The Better Business Bureau said it’s easy to avoid the problem by planning your vacation in advance.

“Know the hotel’s policies before you book, do your research and know what they allow and what they don’t allow,” said Nicole Cordero, communications specialist for the Better Business Bureau of the Eastern Carolinas. “Just read the fine print.”

It’s also recommended that you check out what else is going on in the area when you’re planning a vacation. Summertime is typically a more difficult time to book a room. It’s also important to remember that third-party booking sites might not always know about an individual hotel’s rules.

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Taylor Maresca is the weekend morning anchor and morning reporter at News13. She joined the team in June 2022 after graduating from the University of Arizona. Taylor is from Houston. Follow Taylor on X, formerly Twitter, and read more of her work here.