Our author’s debut on a state-of-the-art golf cart leaves him stylin’ and smilin’
By Ned Steele
The road ahead was open, sunny, and smiling at me. How often can you say that while navigating Beach Road traffic and construction in peak tourist season?
I was a rookie driver in a new type of vehicle and, if there was traffic, I didn’t notice or care.
“Thank you, Good Vibes Island Rides,” I thought, “for showing me – and everyone on the Key – a new way of getting around.” An eco-friendly way, at that.
Good Vibes Island Rides is the brainchild of local residents Joe Kiss and Kelly Coican, and I was enjoying a test drive of the service’s state-of-the-art, all-electric rental golf cart.
I was having fun.
Honestly, the last time driving made me smile was when I was 19, so that’s saying a lot. Thank you, Joe and Kelly.
The fun and smiles came not only from the general convenience of golf carting, but because Good Vibes is taking this humble transportation mode to new heights.
Consider the Bluetooth soundbar. Hook up your phone, crank up the volume and, as I was, you’re rock-and-rollin’ down the road. That humdrum market run for eggs and milk? Everyone in the family with a driver’s license will now be fighting to do it.
Then there’s the flashing undermount LED light show. Any color pattern you choose. So, the party continues after dinner, as you cruise home (safely and responsibly, please).
You’ll feel comfortable and secure … the seating is practically plush, and the safety features are ample and reassuring: sturdy seat belts, well-positioned side and rear mirrors, turn signals, backup camera and windshield wipers.
And the piece de resistance: these babies are all electric! There’s no exhaust or sound pollution, no fossil fuels and no refueling. Recharging is a straightforward matter that most Siesta Key condos can accommodate. Plus, it’s made in the USA.
All in all, it’s sort of like graduating from your dad’s Chevrolet into a sleek sports car.
Only, of course, you won’t be speeding around at sports car speeds. Like conventional carts, the gleaming top-of-line Bintelli models top out at around 25 mph: good enough to get you where on the Key you want to go, safely. (Rule #1: You don’t leave the Key with one of these.) Anyway, as Kelly points out, “You’re on island time, what’s the rush? Everyone relax!”
You could buy one of these beauties for many thousands of dollars, but until Joe and Kelly launched the business last fall you couldn’t rent one for the vacation week or the weekend.
The idea was hatched in 2021 when Kelly’s mom, a longtime resident, did buy one.
“We thought it was the coolest thing,” Joe recalls. “It far exceeded any cart rental she’d had in the past.”
Sitting by the pool, Joe and Kelly, friends who had often discussed starting a business together, hit on the plan: why not make these attractive transportation options available to everyone, affordably and for short-term use? “We really believe in this,” Kelly says.
The timing was right: Kelly had just sold a business and Joe was solidly employed as a computer programmer, but was “still waiting to find a passion in my life.”
It took about 18 months for everything to fall into place, and the business debuted last fall.
Good Vibes Island Rides stresses friendly customer service. Joe rolls up in board shorts to deliver your rental, walks you through safe operation procedures, and helps set up the Bluetooth sound. Pricing is competitive with standard-level cart rentals. Vehicles come fully charged – enough to last up to 25 miles – and there’s a two-day minimum rental. Carts accommodate four or six people.
Joe and Kelly hope to see more parking spaces created in the Village just for carts – they take up about half the space of a car.
The business plays up the party-fun vibe in its marketing, but the core customers are vacationing families. I wondered if the carts’ flashy features would attract undue attention, wanted or unwanted. So for my test drive along the Key I decked out in my most garish Hawaiian shirt, loaded the soundbar with booming ’90s rock, and took off (safely and responsibly!) at full blast, occasionally waving cheerily to people.
No motorist glared at me. I passed dozens of pedestrians; virtually no one gave me a second look. Neither I nor the Good Vibes cart was perceived as a party animal. That’s probably a good thing if you’re considering one of these for your family vacation.
Well, one young woman glanced up and smiled appreciatively as I zipped by.
That’s another motoring experience I haven’t had in years. Thank you again, Joe and Kelly. I’ll be back.
For rental inquiries contact Good Vibes Island Rides at 1-877-8GOODVIBES or goodvibesislandrides.com.