Kenya: Out&about – Getting to Know the New Village Market

Last week’s article featured the immensely fun Maji Magic Aqua Park at Karen’s Waterfront Mall. I thoroughly enjoyed sliding around their obstacle course, but it also brought on a sense of nostalgia for the old water parks at Village Market and Splash. I’m not sure what has become of Splash, but a friend who recently flew over the area told me that the compound looked derelict.

And I thought it was a great shame when the decision was made to replace the water park and mini golf course at Village Market with a hotel and shopping complex.

But I was inspired to explore this new section of Village Market. The approach from Limuru Road is now dominated by a pockmarked stone facade, screening the multi-storey extension of the mall. Towering above it is the 215-room Trademark Hotel, intended as a more affordable option to the neighbouring Tribe Hotel.

The stonewall facade blends well with the ‘village’ architecture of the original shopping centre, but the new complex is otherwise contrastingly modern.

Whereas the clay-tiled roofs, streams and open spaces of the original section were designed to replicate an African market, the new extension has a distinctive European mall feel to it.

At the heart of the extension is a small courtyard, filled with tables spilling out from the surrounding restaurants. On the ground floor, too, is a trendy food market, with an eclectic mix of eateries and retail stalls. I hear the food at the Mexican eatery ‘Taco’ is excellent. The other stalls sell everything from chocolates to cheeses, and oysters to oriental teas.

IMPRESSED

In among the shops on the floors above is the Cape Town based giant gym brand Ignite Fitness. The recreational facilities are mainly spread out across two floors, and include the new bowling alley called ‘Village Bowl’, an ocean-themed playground for young children called ‘Under the Sea’, a trampoline park called ‘Ozone’, an arcade with a virtual reality gaming experience, and more.

I’m still saddened by the loss of the water park, but I’m glad they brought back the bowling alley. And I’ll admit, the Ozone trampoline park really impressed me. I’d experienced such a park only once before in West London, and Ozone definitely trumps it. It’s on the fourth floor of the new shopping complex, by the VR gaming rig and the Under the Sea playground.

Ozone occupies a huge space, and what struck me the most was the artwork on the walls. The front end of a 14-seater matatu sticks out of the wall above the reception desk, and up the staircase behind it is a larger matatu, with a flashy paintjob and flashing LED lights. Its interior has also been stripped and converted into a cool seating area. All of the park’s walls are covered in bright and colourful graffiti, of urban landscapes or African-themed artwork.

The management commissioned some very talented artists to do the decorating, and the graffiti transforms the park into a very fun and vibrant space.

My fiancée and I couldn’t resist a go on the trampolines, despite being surrounded by a blur of over-excited children. The price for an hour varies by height — over 110cm is Sh750 off-peak and Sh950 peak, and under 110cm is Sh550 off-peak and Sh750 peak. We also paid Sh200 for a pair of special trampolining socks each, which we got to keep.

The park is divided into different sections, including a dodge ball court, ‘slam dunk’ trampolines, rock climbing walls, foam pits, a ninja course and a parlour wall. There’s also the ‘Ozone Hangout’ — an elevated seating area with pool tables and a cafe, ideal for parents to keep an eye on their bouncing children.

So it’s not quite the Village Market that I’m familiar with, but it’s a version that I’ll certainly have a lot of fun getting used to.

Jan Fox is a Director at iDC. E-mail: [email protected]

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