District 2 is about to get its first mini-golf course. Jon Aspin speaks to its creator. Photo by Vinh Dao.

If you’ve ever ‘Passed GO’ or found yourself sent back to Old Kent Road, Park Lane should be a familiar name. Synonymous with luxury and an area bordering London’s Hyde Park, it’s a sought-after buy in any Monopoly marathon. Right here in District 2’s Thao Dien however, far from your nearest Pret-a-Manger or double-decker bus, the name is about to take on a whole new meaning.

Soon to be open as the city’s first outdoor, glow-in-the-dark mini-golf course, (yes mini-golf, the game they really play in heaven), Park Lane is an ambitious new venture catering specifically to families and children.

Best known for bringing Disney on Ice to Vietnam through his event and promotions company District 360, Joshua Turner is the man behind the idea.

An entrepreneur at heart, and after years in the music and entertainment industry, he says he was looking for something that his own kids could enjoy.

“Park Lane is a family business run by families for families,” he explains with his wife Nga sitting next to him. After ten years back in the country of his birth, together they’ve seen the evolution of District 2 first-hand, and still see room for more options like theirs. “There’s still not enough here for families and children in particular, ice-rinks and climbing walls aside,” he says. “The area is exploding, as everyone knows, so this is our way of catering to a growing need.”

Also to feature a ‘19th hole’ sports bar and western menu restaurant, along with what the couple hopes will become a vibrant new weekend market called Thao Dien Market, it’s clear that their ambition goes beyond just mini-golf; more like an outdoor hub for families.

Nga says it’s a place that “Mothers can come and have some time to relax in the garden, Dads can take a drink and watch some sport, and the kids can enjoy playing mini-golf.” It’s a commendable vision of family harmony.

The Neighborhood
Located just off Thao Dien street, Park Lane will share green space with neighbours Family Garden, itself an oasis of quiet, and the larger ongoing construction project featuring offices, a coworking space and an impressive water feature. Since coming on board four months ago, Joshua and his wife have been keen to consult with everyone.

“One of our main concerns has been the well-being of our neighbours,” he says. “For us, this is for them. If they don’t like any element of Park Lane, it won’t work.”

State of the Art
Featuring a state of the art drainage system (you can’t play golf underwater), the 3D models look impressive. A stream will run alongside the eighteen-hole course, play will be overlooked by an elevated timber boardwalk, and there’ll be plenty of space for picnic tables and chairs. Even the putters themselves will be crafted out of bamboo by local artisan James Wolf. The clubhouse will be home to the sports bar, and Joshua’s mother is inbound from Aberdeen, Scotland to ensure the best of British fare is on offer in the restaurant. “I might be biased,” admits Joshua, “but her food is the best.”

Glow in the Dark
Adding to the excitement is the fact that a large part of Park Lane’s business will be at night, when it’s cooler.  Enter Vietnam’s first ‘Glow Golf’ experience. Made possible by florescent golf balls, black and UV lights, Joshua is anticipating a hit for children and ‘big kids’ alike.

It’s a formula that has already proven successful elsewhere, especially in Europe and the States, and with a healthy appetite for new activities and friendly competition amongst District 2’s expat crowd, it’s hard to see why it won’t become popular here. Certainly if you’re looking for your new ‘happy place’ in town, Park Lane might be exactly what you’re looking for.

Park Lane was still in its final stages of construction at the time of writing.