Settling in made easy for children

PUBLISHED : Friday, 14 October, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 14 October, 2011, 12:00am

The mobility of the modern business world means executives can find themselves moving to new roles in different cities at short notice. When that happens, a big factor in helping the family settle in is to live somewhere that makes it easy for children to get out, make friends and always have plenty to do.

It is more or less a golden rule: if they are happy, active and constantly on the go, any new environment soon starts to feel like home.

'Most tenants in our apartments have young children,' says Palle Ledet Jensen, general manager of The Repulse Bay. 'So, when choosing to live in the complex, parents consider the children's facilities and after-school activities as one of the top priorities.'

Knowing this, the management team puts considerable time and effort into arranging a wide range of classes, parties and special events. These cater for the disparate interests of different age groups and work on the principle of offering something for everyone.

'Besides the regular children's classes for things like tennis, swimming, dancing and painting, we also arrange many other activities during the year,' Jensen says. 'These include taekwondo, Thai boxing and disco dancing [to burn off some energy], as well as classes in magic, Lego and chess.'

Aware that many families moving to Hong Kong are used to having a 'back yard' and the outdoor lifestyle that goes with it, Jensen wants tenants to have a similar sense of space and freedom. Starting with the clubhouse, the aim is to create a family-friendly atmosphere, giving children every opportunity and encouragement to play and learn, with adult supervision wherever necessary.

The clubhouse restaurant, for example, has a playroom and close by there are areas for television games, table tennis, an activity room, and an indoor 25-metre heated swimming pool. There is also a party venue which can be used to celebrate birthdays or perhaps 'welcome back' reunions after the summer holidays or the Christmas and Lunar New Year breaks.

'This winter, we will also introduce a Play Street in the complex,' Jensen says. 'This will incorporate an exciting selection of equipment and installations for interactive play. It will be for a much wider range of age groups than we can currently provide for in the existing outdoor playground.'

Such upgrades and enhancements are continuing. They stem in some cases from management initiatives, but equally could be in response to 'public demand'. Feedback from children, parents and the various external instructors is sought and acted upon, so that facilities and classes are in tune with the times and provide what is wanted.

'As an example, we are now upgrading the outdoor playground with new play features and soft landscaping,' Jensen says. 'This will provide much-needed shade in an exposed area and the work is expected to be completed this winter.'

He adds that it is essential to keep looking for new ideas to maintain the sense of fun and give everyone the chance to be involved.

Dance courses might therefore conclude with a 'graduation' performance for parents and friends. In contrast, an educational garden has been set up to teach children the importance of preserving natural habitats and to show how some of the food we eat is grown.

Established favourites still remain popular, whether tennis coaching, swimming lessons, Mid-Autumn barbeques or Halloween parties.

'We are continually working to enhance the children's facilities of The Repulse Bay and the community feel,' Jensen says. 'That is something intangible which families are always looking for.'

The management team at Gateway Apartments in Tsim Sha Tsui is similarly taking steps to enhance their range of services and activities to keep children fully occupied.

In recognition of a changing demographic, which has seen more residents with young families moving in, the play area has been expanded to four times its previous size and a new games room added.

The choice of lessons on offer for different age groups includes mini-tennis, judo, Shaolin kung fu, and swimming for toddlers and mums. Access to the nearby Pacific Club, with its pool, tennis courts and clubhouse amenities, provides the necessary space and venues. If parents suggest a new course or activity, management policy is that they are basically ready to try anything.