Hotels & Motels

Hotels and motels are two things that are so integrated into daily life that people never really stop and think about the details of them. What makes a hotel a hotel? What is the difference between a hotel, a motel, and other forms of rented lodging? While questions like these do have simple answers, they're also important answers when it comes to marketing and licensing your property. 


We'll start with the technical definition (for licensing purposes): 

  • ​​​​A hotel is defined as a place where sleeping accommodations are offered for pay to transients, in five or more rooms, and all related rooms, buildings, and areas. 

  • A motel is defined as a roadside hotel designed primarily for motorists, typically having the rooms arranged in a low building with parking directly outside.
Hotels and Motels are identical for licensing purposes; the only difference between them regards parking.
  • Motels offer on-premises parking at no additional cost to clients. They are listed as motels at the owner's request. 


So hotels are different from other lodging offerings based on the number of rooms rented, and motels offer parking while hotels may or may not. There are also different licensing costs based on the number of rooms that are offered at your hotel/motel. 


Obtaining Licenses

Follow these steps to work towards obtaining a lodging license:

  • Review the Hotels & Motels licensing packet links, to the left.
  • Contact the following:
    1. TOWN: Contact the Township, Village, or City for any local requirements regarding conditional use or zoning permits that may be required.
    2. COUNTY ZONING: Contact Rusk County Land Conservation & Development at 715-532-2156 to determine if a land use permit must be submitted.
    3. WELL/WATER TESTING: If a private well is present, the well must be constructed, maintained and operated according to NR812. The water must also be tested annually for coliform and nitrates. (This will be evaluated during your annual health inspection.)
  • Complete the Lodging Application, including Hotels & Motels, which can be found on our Lodging and Recreation page.
  • Submit your completed application with the required license fee(s) to our office.
  • Contact our Environmental Health Specialist, at (715) 532-2299 to schedule an onsite inspection based on the scope of rules in DATCP 72. Provide a copy of your water sample results, the completed lodging license application and pay the required license fees, if not done previously.


License Duration

  • Licenses are valid from July 1st of one year to June 30th the following year. 
  • Licenses granted on or after April 1st will extend to June 30th of the following year (rather than expiring on June 30th of the year the license was issued). 
  • Licenses expire June 30th of each year. 
  • Renewal fees for existing establishments shall be submitted to Public Health before June 30 each year.
  • Licenses are non-transferrable. If ownership changes, a new license must be attained.