RACHEL and LORNE ALI run a couple of businesses in Hong Kong focused on kids’ party ideas, fun and learning. We find out more about both of them from Rachel, and also get some insights into their little slice of HK life in Mui Wo, Lantau Island. First, read on to discover how they started their slumber party tent business and portable planetarium experience!
Slumber party experts – The Tepee Tribe
The idea for The Tepee Tribe actually came about when our eldest daughter turned 13. Rather than a typical party for teenagers, she really wanted a more unique tepee-themed celebration. We started sourcing some tents to put up in our living room just for her party.
It turned out to be such a hit with her friends that it got us thinking about starting this as a business. All the kids loved being immersed in the different themed world we’d created, so in late 2017, after many requests to do more parties, we officially launched The Tepee Tribe.
Now we have a wide range of themes ranging from classics like unicorns and mermaids that are popular with younger kids, to more mature themes and party ideas like boho chic or soccer for older kids and teens. The campfire theme is always a favourite too.
This month, we’re launching an all new “Movie Night” indoor slumber party theme that will be really fun and memorable. Kids get to sleepover in the tepee while watching a film, complete with many movie-themed accessories.
It’s been incredibly rewarding to take the business this far and see it fill a niche for unique party for teenagers and kids in Hong Kong. We are always coming up with fresh ideas to keep things exciting!
A next-level party tent – Discovery Dome
Discovery Dome is a portable planetarium experience that launched in late 2010. It’s a fully immersive inflatable dome theatre that projects 360-degree images and videos onto the inner surface.
What’s unique is that Discovery Dome is mobile – it inflates quickly and can be transported to different locations. This allows us to bring the planetarium experience directly into schools or other venues.
We have three different-sized domes to enable us to fit into most spaces. Inside, Lorne presents fun and engaging astronomy and space-themed multimedia shows tailored to different curriculums and age groups.
I originally started Discovery Dome part-time while still teaching, drawing on my science experience in education. Over the years it grew, and it now visits most international schools and English medium local schools in Hong Kong. Every year the list of schools grows.
One memorable corporate event was partnering with space shuttle astronaut Ken Cameron for a series of workshops for Cathay Pacific, when he visited Hong Kong.
As the presenter, Lorne draws on his many years’ teaching experience, including 15 years at Kellett School. It’s very rewarding seeing students’ eyes light up during the shows as they learn amazing facts about outer space in an engaging way, and discover what planets, stars and constellations are while getting a sense of the vastness and beauty of the Universe. They also learn STEM concepts like orbits, phases of the moon, and eclipses, and about astronomy accomplishments and real-life astronaut explorers.
We also offer after-school astronomy programmes that use Discovery Dome.
At Home in Mui Wo, Lantau Island
When Expat Living last chatted to Rachel and Lorne a couple of years ago, they’d just given their Lantau Island home a makeover.
Are you still in your home on lovely Lantau?
Yes, we’re still on Lantau with our three children – a twin brother and sister who are 14, and our eldest daughter who is 19. She actually just left us a few weeks ago to start her studies at university in the UK, so we’re currently adjusting to having one less person in the house! The twins are definitely enjoying the extra space now – her sister has taken over the spare bathroom!
Since we last spoke, we have undertaken a few smaller projects to keep our home feeling fresh. We’ve seen some swaps of furniture and a few new coats of paint; it keeps us busy, but we love injecting new life into the place through small ongoing improvements. After 16 years living here, Lantau still feels like the perfect home and escape from the city.
What are you enjoying about Mui Wo right now?
Mui Wo Lantau Island is a lovely small town known for the long sandy Silvermine Beach. It also has many scenic hiking trails nearby. Notable spots in Mui Wo include the China Beach Club, our go-to beachside restaurant located right on Silvermine Bay. They only open weekends and bank holidays which makes them even more special. They’re known for amazing steaks and the best apple crumble in Asia alongside stunning beach views.
Pause Cafe is quite new and is a cute local café that’s become a favourite amongst locals for breakfast and lunch; it’s very popular. They serve delicious baked goods and specialty coffee and have just started late-night opening on Friday and Saturday for drinks and sharing platters.
Other great places to eat include The Hideout, which has become a fast favourite and is a relaxing place for a drink and a bite to eat, Baan Thai Restaurant for very authentic dishes at reasonable prices, and The Grill Pizza, which does our favourite wood-fired pizzas with a wide choice of toppings.
Vibe bookshop is also amazing, with a ridiculously huge range of books and records and even a sound booth – Gary the owner has really turned this shop into something quite special.
The Mui Wo Laundry is also relatively new. It’s become quite an institution and has a fabulously retro logo and always an interesting display outside at Lantern Festival or Halloween. You can even buy a T-shirt with their logo on! Mui Wo’s location is very convenient for exploring placesslightly further afield like the beaches at Pui O and Cheung Sha or hitting the hiking trails. It has a very laidback andcharming seaside village feel. The cooler weather nowmeans we can entertain outside more on our rooftop. Welove having guests over or having a family BBQ.
Here’s what’s next for the couple’s slumber party tents and astrological projections in 2024
Rachel says there will be plenty happening in the next couple of years. With Discovery Dome, while the focus is always on growing regular programs in established schools, she’s also excited that many new schools are now booking the service too. “Reaching new students and developing new school partnerships is very rewarding,” she says.
For The Tepee Tribe, 2024 is about the next stage of evolution, with a big focus on training new team members to understand the brand’s vision and continue to deliver excellence. Rachel says they’re also developing some brand new themes to keep things fresh.
This article about the couple creating a tent and dome party for teenagers in Hong Kong first appeared in the Winter 2023/2024 issue of Expat Living magazine. Subscribe now so you never miss an issue!