Or a dreary Thursday afternoon, I headed over to Block 3 Industrial for a business blind date. I didn’t know what to expect as I entered the space for InPlay Botswana. Fortunately the smiling face that met me was a ray of sunshine and immediately made me feel comfortable.
Chah Garde, 30, from Kalakamati (near Francistown) is a charismatic mother to two boys aged 4 and 2. In recent years she’s travelled abroad and has called the UK, Mauritius, and Angola home.
Now she’s returned to Botswana and settled in Gaborone to open an indoor play centre for kids… and parents.
“Believe it or not, I’m passionate about play areas. Every time I went abroad I would visit indoor and outdoor playgrounds to see what they were like… even if I didn’t have my kids with me,” says Chah. “But when I came home to Botswana, there weren’t any indoor playgrounds to take our kids to. So my husband Moss and I decided to open one for kids and parents alike.”
What does InPlay Botswana offer?
InPlay Botswana features a massive indoor play structure made from steel scaffolding and solid plastic construction. It also has a small trampoline area, toddler soft-play zone, arts and crafts section, restaurant, and – get this – a parent’s lounge with a bar in it. That’s right, a bar.
“We wanted to be able to give parents a break. Get out your laptop or book, order a coffee or cocktail, and just relax,” says Chah.
Once they open on March the 3rd they’ll be offering:
Stay and play, for parents who will stay on the premises either in the downstairs restaurant or upstairs lounge. Don’t worry, there’s a window overlooking the play zones so you can keep your eyes on your little ones.
Drop and go play times, for bigger kids who are out of nappies and able to communicate with the staff. Note that kids can’t come alone; a parent or guardian must always check them in.
Arts & Crafts classes, or set times when this section will be open and teaching kids how to make a specific craft project. Bracelets, binoculars, that sort of thing.
School trips and other opportunities for group social events.
Party hire, either just for the venue or all-inclusive. They will be partnering with party planners, bakers, etc who share their commitment to quality in order to offer amazing party packages. And not just for kids… adults can book out the lounge for parties too! Think: the kids get to play downstairs being safely watched by the InPlay Botswana staff, while you and your friends can enjoy a nice social upstairs, then you all come together for cake.
Special times for children with special needs. Children with physical disabilities and other special needs can choose to come at a designated time. The goal is to give them a playtime that’s respectful to their needs. InPlay Botswana also invites different schools for children with special needs to visit at designated times for private play.
Restaurant, serving both kid and adult friendly foods including quesadillas, wraps, salads, burgers, hot dogs, and of course ice cream and coffees. There’s a seating area near the playground for parents to watch the kids while having a meal. Plus people working in the neighbourhood will be able to grab a takeaway.
In summary, InPlay Botswana is a big place with a lot on offer. Chah and her team have spent countless hours planning it and their commitment to making it a success is instantly noticeable.
Top Reasons To Try InPlay Botswana
I mentioned how Chah’s smile was a ray of sunshine. Over the course of our talk I became more and more impressed by her passion and intent.
Here are the top 5 things I love about InPlay Botswana so far:
1. UK Safety Standards.
Since Botswana doesn’t have safety standards of their own for operations like this, Chah and her team opted to follow the UK Safety Standards, since they’re world-leaders (and known for being OTT regarding health & safety!). This even meant that they had to have the steel specially made for the scaffolding to be thicker than is usually available here.
2. Service Standards.
This week, all of their staff are taking customer service training. And soon they’ll be getting more of their staff first aid certified. “We’ve travelled a lot, experienced a lot. We want to keep InPlay Botswana operating to a very high standard. And it starts with who we employ.”
3. Qualified Personnel.
All of the Playground/Floor Assistants they’ve hired have Early Education Training, so parents can rest assured that their children are being well looked after. A first aider will also always be on site. They’re employing 12 playground assistants, waitrons, chefs, reception staff – and cleaners, of who Chah says, “They’re our most important team members, as we would like to keep our playground as clean as possible for our little ones.”
4. Feels Like Family.
They’re working like one big family. Chah, Moss, everyone is all hands on deck in contributing to get it set up. There’s no airs or attitude of hierarchy. They don’t want their business to be in a bubble; they want to partner with other local businesses to deliver a great product to parents.
5. Passionate About Play.
The owners have taken inspiration from around the world. They even travelled to China to buy the equipment themselves and choose the best items. “You should have seen the playground in Wezhou, where we sourced the equipment. Wow my boys would have loved it!”
Assuming all goes to plan, InPlay Botswana will be opening March 3rd. They’re located in Block 3 Industrial. Landmarks: They’re located between Eastern Tyre and Botswanacraft, in the same complex as the Spar head office.
“If no one comes, my kids will have the biggest and most expensive gift ever, their own playground. It’ll be better than any Christmas!” Chah says.
With her energy and the high standards they’re putting in place, I doubt Chah and Moss’s children will be playing there alone.
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