For us, weekends in Jakarta are usually full of errands and social activities. We like to spend Saturdays and Sundays with the boys and take them out of the house at least for a few hours. Although we love all the amazing indoor playgrounds throughout Jakarta, for the most part we try to avoid the malls since it always seems like we are just one of the thousands of people who think it’s a good idea to spend time in the shelter of the AC cooled shopping centers. We enjoy being outdoors and we love taking the boys on weekend getaways but that is not always possible. Unfortunately the offer of outdoor activities for kids within the city is not exhaustive at all so we tend to stay in the shade most of the time.
Other than taking them out to the pool in our building, our outdoor activities are reduced to going from the building to the parking lot, the occasional stroll in the neighborhood to the nearby convenience shops and maybe, just maybe a quick stop at one of the parks in our neighborhood.
Since I started working I have looking at more opportunities to spend quality time with the boys. I’ve been trying to find new places to take them to and make sure they have a good time out and about. After doing some research and having heard from several friends about it, we decided to check out the Shangri-La Hotel’s weekend activities for kids. You might think it’s odd to go to a hotel randomly on a weekend, and so did we, but with all the buzz we had to check it out. A few weeks ago when our agenda was miraculously empty we headed over to the Shang on a Saturday afternoon. We have been there a couple more times since and the boys just can’t get enough.
Just as the name implies Shangri-La means a place of complete bliss, delight and peace. That was our first impression as we arrived at the hotel and our sons seemed to break the silence by running eagerly around the lobby. The Shangri-La staff greeted us warmly and led us to the Kid’s Activity area located in the gorgeously manicured gardens by the pool.
Soon after we arrived we learned that their weekend activities begin Saturday morning at 11:00 AM. We got there around 2:00 PM and missed out on the cupcake decorating class and cooking demonstration but were excited to see many other activities on the schedule for the day. For people staying at the hotel, the weekend activities are included in the stay (staycation, anyone???), for visitors the entrance fee is 50,000 Rp. per child. They also offer extra activities such as t-shirt decoration, cooking classes, and other crafts for an extra fee. We thought the price was more than fair for all they had to offer. Evan and Joshua’s smiles and the fact that daddy and I were actually able to sit down for a few minutes and watch them play will testify to that.
The first thing we noticed when we arrived was the huge bouncy castle in the middle of the garden. The boys swiftly ran, took their shoes off and before we knew it where bouncing up and down in the castle. The very caring staff kept a close eye on Josh who as the smallest kid jumping around. Evan got really excited to see a few tricycles and cars for him to hop on to and was overwhelmed trying to decide which bike to use first.
The first time we visited the Shangri-La for the kid’s activities the play area was located in the function room because there was a wedding taking place in one of the gardens where they usually set up the play area. We loved having the option to be either inside or outside. The AC was a nice break from the heat and humidity of Jakarta and the free iced tea and water was a big plus.
The highlight of the visit for Evan was riding on the cute pony they had on site. My little cowboy was very brave and didn’t hesitate one bit before sitting on the saddle. A few minutes riding on the pony, Evan was back and it was Joshua’s turn to hop on the pony. He didn’t enjoy it as much as Evan did but made it around the garden nonetheless.
The second time we visited the play area was set up on the gardens. I loved the lush greenery and the boys loved the freedom to run back and forth from the bouncy castle to the cars, to the play tent. The play tent had an incredible array of activities for kids of all ages. Books, kids movies, tons of legos, a play house, a play kitchen, a crafting table and a huge quantity of toys for all tastes.
A big hit among the boys was the free flow of cotton candy and popcorn made right on site. Evan had actually never eaten cotton candy and his first experience with it was a very successful one (if success is measured on how much cotton candy a toddler can eat). The boys gobbled down their treats with the iced tea and water that was offered in the play tent.
The staff working at the play tent were very friendly. The boys approached them and got some cool tattoos in exchange for their smiles. Well, not really, but the girls working there were in fact very friendly and asked them if they wanted to get tattoos or their faces painted. My cool little dudes went for the temporary tattoos.
My animal loving boys were incredibly fascinated by the petting zoo on site. They had all kids of animals from puppies, to bigger dogs, rabbits, turtles and even lizards and snakes. This was all supervised by a few staff members who made sure the kids and pets didn’t attach each other! Josh was so excited to see puppies up and close. Evan was very intrigued by the snake but decided against holding it.
Our third time doing the weekend activities at the Shangri-La was as good as the previous two. The set up was similar but the pony ride area was even better this time. Once again, the boys got some cool tattoos, played for hours in the tent and enjoyed
fighting over riding the cars and tricycles. The petting zoo was Joshua’s favorite this time and Evan rode the pony twice because Josh wasn’t in cowboy mood this time.
It is quite impressive to see how a luxury hotel can be transformed into a kid’s paradise with just a few touches. The boys have really enjoyed the activities the Shangri-La has to offer and we recommend it to anyone who wants a little bit of sunshine, a little bit of green and a whole lot of fun.
- The activities run from 11:00 AM to 5:00 PM. Plan your day to be there for at least two hours. I know my boys would have stayed there for longer if we allowed them to.
- Don’t overdress the kiddos. The activities are usually held outdoors and it might be hot and humid. They will run, they will sweat, they will get dirty and they will make a fantastic time out of it.
- If you visit on a Sunday, why not do brunch at one of their many wonderful restaurants and then let the kids play for a while?
- Make a vacation out of it, pretend you are in a remote place and stay for the weekend. The kids will enjoy their Saturday and Sunday playing all day.
- Above all, whatever you do, enjoy your time with your family and make the best of living in Jakarta.