Some restaurants have menus you can colour in. Some have friendly staff who will play with your little one whilst you eat. Boardwalk has gone a step further and set up a fully-staffed crèche, where for a set fee, you can leave your children and enjoy lunch in peace.
We went there on a Thursday lunchtime at 12, expecting it to be fairly peaceful, and it was, with a smattering of other diners. No sign of any kids – perhaps they were all in the crèche?
There’s a beautiful graduated terrace overlooking the Creek, but because of the wind, we sat just inside. The children immediately ran off to look in the big fish tank, where you can choose your seafood to eat. Perhaps we wouldn’t need the crèche, I thought hopefully, eagerly pulling out the menu. But my peace was shattered when the bigger one rushed over with a handful of raw mussels, “Look mummy, shells!” Time to investigate play facilities. Leading the children round the corner, they broke into a run when they saw the facilities on offer through the glass door round the corner from reception. Welcomed by two smiling staff, they were signed in, shoes off, wristbands on and didn’t look back.
The crèche is run by the British childcare provider Crèche Out, who also run a pay-per-hour nursery in WAFI. They started as a mobile crèche provider for events but now have permanent crèches all over the world. What impressed me on our visit was the professional nature of the staff – despite being young, they were obviously well-trained, getting immediately down to eye level with my two and engaging them.
The room was sunny and warm, with a small castle to climb, an activity table for art, ride-on toys, Lego and HappyLand play ‘circles’, lots of dolls, a playhouse and a big collection of books. The older one immediately sped off to grab as many dolls as she could, whilst the toddler climbed into the nearest car. ‘I’ll come and get you when your pasta’s ready!’ I called out, but they took no notice.
What bliss! I sat at the table, chatting away to my Dad who was in Dubai on a short visit. The waiter brought us a delicious selection of hot breads, with very moreish dips. No little hands, no crying, just the peace you get when you know your children are happy. Which means you are happy.
But then their pasta arrived. ‘Come on girls, dinnertime!’, attempting to haul them away from their new paradise. “No, mummy, I stay here.” Much argument ensued, and we eventually made it back the dinner table, albeit minus their shoes, which had stayed in Kids’ Corner.
‘When you are finished, you can go back the playroom,’ I said. Both of them immediately ate one piece of pasta and tried to scramble down. ‘No!’ I called, ‘Come back here and eat.’
Two sulky children, five more pieces of tomato pasta and half a vanilla ice cream each, and they could go back to play. My lobster club sandwich had been congealing on my plate for a while now, but even cold, it was a good reward for enduring this particular food fight. “Excellent fish”, said my Dad, seemingly oblivious to his exhausted daughter inhaling her sandwich. “Oh, look, there’s a falcon!” Looking up, so there was, perched on a man’s arm, just outside the window.
Now, normally, when you see something exciting in Dubai, like a falcon or a gold Ferrari, you would point it out to your children. But I just couldn’t face getting them out of the crèche again and left Dad to go and chat up the falcon man while I ate the rest of the children’s food.
“Apparently there has been a problem with seagulls and this falcon is going to scare them away,” said Dad. “Very interesting chap, knows a lot about birds.”
So Dad was happy, the kids were happy but was I? I think my main mistake had been taking them to the crèche before their lunch arrived. I didn’t know it was going to arrive that quickly, and toddlers don’t move fast. Next time, we’ll do it properly and give them a long play session after their lunch. Which means a window of midday peace for me, too.
Kids Corner costs Dhs45 for the first hour and Dhs20 per additional hour. Or spend a minimum of Dhs250 at Boardwalk, Casa de Tapas, Cielo or QD’s and pay only Dhs45 for three hours. Open Monday 12.30 - 9.30pm, Tuesday 12.30 - 9.30pm, Wednesday 12.30 - 9.30pm, Thursday 12.30 - 11pm, Friday 9am - 11pm, Saturday 9am - 9.30pm, Sunday Closed. For more information visit www.dubaigolf.com/dubai-creek-golf-yacht-club (04 295 6000).
Special mums’ offer! Visit Boardwalk from Monday to Thursday between noon and 5pm and relax and dine while the little ones visit the Boardwalk Kids’ Corner for free! Mum can indulge in two antipasti, a pizza or a snack along with a soft beverage as her child enjoys a meal from our kids’ menu along with one hour access to Kids’ Corner, all for just Dhs99.