Do soaring gas prices have your clients seething every time they
rent a car? Are they tired of dealing with traffic when they travel
to Oahu? Then tell them about Segway of Hawaii, a new venture
offering environmentally friendly, hassle-free tours of Waikiki and
Invented by entrepreneur Dean Kamen in 2002, the Segway a
self-balancing two-wheeled personal transportation device can go
anywhere pedestrians go, only faster. In February 2006, marketing
and production maven Alan Rice took the concept to the next level,
starting Segway tours in the tropics through his company Segway of
Hawaii, based at the Hilton Hawaiian Village Beach Resort and
“A Segway is great for Hawaii, because you can ride it outside
any time of year,” he said. “I saw it on TV, tried one out and got
Rice joined me on a recent tour called the Waikiki Glide Ride,
which started with a 30-minute training session. Each member of our
group learned to maneuver the machine through weight distribution,
leaning forward to move it ahead and backward to slow it down. A
lever on the left handlebar controls the direction the machine
turns. As an additional safety precaution, our guides put us
through some final paces like stopping on a dime and weaving in and
out of cones, before leading us away on our tour.
Chugging along at 3 mph, I found the Segway easy to operate.
Once we left the Hilton property, we navigated the sidewalks of
Waikiki single file, getting quizzical looks from passers-by and
more than a few questions about what we were doing. The tours serve
as a rolling advertisement for the company, as people see the
Segways and want to try one for themselves. Wisely, Rice has put
the Segway of Hawaii phone number in large print on the front of
Our destination was Ala Moana Beach Park, home of a peninsula
called Magic Island, where we posed for photos against a dramatic
backdrop of Diamond Head.
“One thing I love about the Segway is that it goes where a lot
of tourists wouldn’t otherwise go,” said Rice. “I never saw this
view until I came here on a Segway. It’s a new way to wow
Once we rode away from the crowds, we picked up the pace on the
lawns and sidewalks of the park, under the ever-watchful eyes of
Rice hopes to expand Segway of Hawaii tours, possibly to the
Hilton Waikoloa Village on the Big Island. He’s also considering
setting up shop in the resorts of Wailea and Kapalua on Maui.
“On Kauai, it would work well for off-road adventures, and on
the Big Island, people could tour the perimeter of the volcano
since the Segway maneuvers over lava,” he said.
Groups, meanwhile, can use the Segway as a unique tool for team
building, said Rice.
“We can put together scavenger hunts, private polo parties,
picnic events and all kinds of customized tours,” he said.
Rice, who also leases Segways and sells them to businesses and
individuals, spoke confidently about the positive impact the Segway
can make on the environment. Approved for sidewalk riding, the
Segway is quiet, pollution-free and has the energy equivalent of
450 miles per gallon of gas, he said.
“It can travel up to 24 miles on a single charge of electricity
for less than 10 cents per charge,” said Rice. “It has the
potential to alleviate congestion, pollution and parking problems
throughout Honolulu and Hawaii.”
While it may not lure people out of their cars for good, Segway
of Hawaii is a fun new way to show clients how two wheels are
better than four.
Segway of Hawaii
Hilton Hawaiian Village
Commission: 20 percent
The 2½-hour Waikiki, Kapiolani Park and Diamond Head Tour costs
$110 per person.
On the Honolulu History and Culture Tour, clients roll to Aloha
Tower, Chinatown, Iolani Palace, the Mission Houses and Kawaiahao
Church (two hours for $99).
The Waikiki Glide Ride heads to Magic Island and Ala Moana Beach
Park (90 minutes for $79; two hours for $99). The Ultimate Glide
lets clients choose their destination, accompanied by a guide (2½
hours from $125).
Segway of Hawaii also customizes tours for special occasions and
Clients must be at least 16 years old, weigh no more than 280
pounds and wear a safety helmet. Tours are limited to eight people
with two guides.