By Diana Colson
Sheila and Mike Lewis are the owners of Siesta Sports Rentals and Siesta Key Jet Ski, located on Midnight Pass Rd, on the Key. The couple moved to Sarasota in 2004.
As teenagers living in Wales in the UK, Sheila and Mike first met outside the school gates. Theirs was one of those rare youthful romances that lasted, for the couple has been together ever since.
Sheila and Mike went on to marry, have a son and a daughter, and continue living their lives in Wales. Mike became a factory manager with a Masters Degree in Mechanical Engineering. Sheila first worked as a Bank Secretary and later became a local Real Estate Agent. In spite of their demanding professions, the pair shared many active adventures involving travel and cycling, kayaking, scooters and motorbikes.
During one of several visits to Florida, they came upon Siesta Sports Rentals. The business had been on the Key since 1995, and was now up for sale.
With their background in sports, Sheila and Mike were intrigued by the idea of being in this “fun rental” business. In 2004 they succumbed to the lure of the tropics and purchased Siesta Sports Rentals. They returned to Wales, sold their home and literally all their possessions, and moved to Sarasota in October of that same year. It was a gutsy move: they arrived on Siesta Key accompanied by their daughter— then age 15— and the contents of only four suitcases! (Their grown son had opted to stay in London where he still lives and works as a film maker and editor.)
Originally, Siesta Sports Rentals required only two employees. Today the business employs six people full-time and four part-time. Inventory has more than doubled over the past decade, making it the largest "fun rental" business in the area. Siesta Sports has been a Small Business Award Winner, being named as a runner-up by the Longboat Key Chamber of Commerce.
Today, Siesta Sports rents a spectacular assortment of beach stuff: bikes, scooters, scooter cars, kayaks, paddleboards, jet skis, and beach wheelchairs. In addition, Mike enjoys leading kayak tours around the Jim Neville Nature Preserve. (For those of you who have never experienced kayaking, this is an unforgettable adventure!)
From 2009-2014, Sheila served as a Board Member of the Siesta Key Chamber of Commerce.
In February of 2014, Mike and Sheila expanded their operation by purchasing Siesta Key Jet Ski. Located near Siesta Sports Rentals, Siesta Key Jet ski can be found inside CB’s Island Outfitters on Stickney Point Road. It has two full-time employees, and the Lewis’s are happy to report that this new business is doing very well.
Sheila and Mike love the life on Siesta Key and have made many friends including customers who come back year after year. Today, the couple likes to take time out to travel. Among their favorite destinations are Costa Rica and the Florida Keys. They also have made several trips to Yellowstone National Park, where Sheila indulges in her favorite hobby: wildlife photography. Besides these adventures, they also try to visit the UK once a year to see family and friends. Their son often comes from London to visit the family in Sarasota.
Siesta Sports Rentals is located just steps from Siesta Key Beach. It is open 7 days a week from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. It offers a “Sunset Special”, where customers can receive a half-day rate from 4 pm to 10 am the following day.
Among a multitude of bikes, Siesta Sports rents Trek Bikes for the family, including Beach Cruisers, Geared Bikes and Road Bikes, Tandems, Kid Bikes, Child Seats, Kiddie Karts and Trail Bikes. All come with helmets, locks and baskets if needed.
Motor Scooters and Scootercars are also offered. All drivers must have a valid driver’s license. Siesta Sports rents single Kayaks and two person Kayaks, where paddlers may sit inside or on top. Rental includes delivery and pick-up to your location or to the Kayak launch area at Turtle Beach.
Siesta Sports Rentals also offers a variety of children’s rental equipment, including: Strollers; Car Seats; Child Bike Seats; Kiddie Karts; and Beach Wagons. For grownups, the shop offers: Beach Chairs and Beach Umbrellas; Boogie boards; Snorkeling Equipment; Tennis Rackets; Skim Boards; and Beach Wheelchairs.
Siesta Sports Rentals is located at 6551 Midnight Pass Road, in the middle of SOUTH BRIDGE MALL. Phone: 941.346.1797, open 9-to-5, 7 days a week.
In addition to Jet Skis, Siesta Key Jet Ski offers Bikes, Kayaks and Paddleboards. It is located at 1250 Stickney Point Rd. (Next to Bank of America). Phone: 941.346.3000