At the Ritz-Carlton Half Moon Bay, visitors travel on a trail that hugs the bluffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean. At Hawaii's Turtle Bay Resort, guests on Segways can see sea turtles and Hawaiian monk seals basking in the sun. At O'Reilly's Gold Coast, a resort in Australia's Lamington National Park, guests explore the surrounding rain forest and cross creeks on the Segways.
In Half Moon Bay, a Ritz-Carlton staffer leads guests on a Segway tour along a Pacific Ocean trail near the resort. Photo credit: Ritz-Carlton
"It was absolutely fantastic," said Lori Kelly, 59, who toured the woods of Pennsylvania's Omni Bedford Springs Resort with her husband. "It gives you the flavor of adventure with very little threat of injury."
The Segway is getting a new life at a growing number of resorts around the world.
First introduced a decade ago, the two-wheeled electric vehicle never quite took off as an everyday way to get around, but it has found a niche replacing city walking tours. Hotels with sprawling grounds are now finding the Segway to be a great way to show guests around their properties. Plus, the devices are still quirky enough to be an attraction in their own right.
"You don't need any special skills to navigate around on it," said Kelly, the executive director of the American Red Cross in West Virginia.
She and her husband traveled in mid-September to the Pennsylvania resort for a two-night getaway. They shopped, sat by the hotel's fire pits, played horseshoes and had a romantic anniversary dinner. What really made the trip unique was the 90-minute, off-road Segway tour for $90.
"Once you mastered it, you felt very, very comfortable about it," she said.
For those not familiar with the two-wheeled electric vehicle, it works like this: Lean forward to move forward. Lean backward to go in reverse. Move the handlebars, and it turns left or right. Segways can go up to 12 mph, but most hotel tours move along at a slower pace, covering just four or five miles in 90 minutes.
Lois Crosby, 62, recently hopped on a Segway at the Kingsmill Resort in Williamsburg, Va. She was there, joining her husband on a business trip.
"All the other people in my group went golfing and I'm not a golfer," Crosby said. So she spent $65 for the 90-minute tour. "It's really a lot of fun."
Part of the excitement is just the novelty of the Segway.
"Neither of us had been on a Segway before, but they looked fun," said John Wilson, 50, who did a tour with his wife, Melissa, at The Homestead Resort in Hot Springs, Va.
The 90-minute tour travels on meandering trails through the resort's woods. Guest get mountain views and often spot wildlife including bear, deer and red-tailed hawks. The tour costs $70 a person.
"I said to my wife, 'I feel like the laziest hiker ever,' " said Wilson, who oversees national programing for PBS. "Once you start, it's sort of intuitive as to how it is to go."
Most hotels start their tours with a practice Segway session in an empty parking lot or field. Some have minimum age requirements and allow only guests of a certain weight to participate, generally 100 to 260 pounds. Most offer their guests helmets. A driver's license isn't needed.
Prices range from $60 to $125 per person. However, deals can be found. The Paradisus Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic offers a 45-minute tour for $35, and the Shangri-La Golden Sands Resort in Malaysia offers 15-minute rides around the resort for about $10.