|By Michael Fitzgerald, The Record,
Stockton, Calif.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News
Dec. 7, 2007 - Word got out that the Sheraton Stockton Hotel at Regent Pointe, the snazzy waterfront hotel under construction since 2005, has quietly opened to the public.
The grand opening gala is not until January. But hey, open is open. The occasion is historic, not to mention a good excuse to expense happy hour.
So a friend and I met at the spanking new seven-story building on the channel's north bank: Regent Pointe, formerly known as humble Banner Island.
Outside the place, courteous valets stood around -- nobody knows yet the place is open. The sharp building is V-shaped to maximize waterfront views.
The first four stories of rooms are hotel, topped by three stories of privately owned condominiums. Fourteen condos have been sold. Occupants reach them through a separate door and elevators. They're up there, livin' large.
I ambled through a lobby into The Hippo Lounge, a 60-foot, immaculately modernist bar backlit by aqua glass panels in a brightly lit room. The chrome-and-leather lounge furniture is modernist, too. Hey, ho, Mies van der Rohe.
All the furniture was unoccupied, and my buddy, sitting at the bar -- curiously, where I always seem to find him -- was one of only two customers in the big room. It was a little like being in the space station lounge in "2001: A Space Odyssey."
A scotch cost $14. Clearly, the Hippo is not competing with Bradley's but catering to the business class, suits with expense accounts. May the Sheraton attract them in droves.
Ribs appetizers were tasty -- "Tamarind, ginger, soy, a little orange juice, maybe," my friend guessed of the sauce.
We had a look at the menu of the adjacent Hippo restaurant, a generic room set with high-tech tables and two flat-screen TVs, designed for bar overflow.
The menu language is amusing. The pork comes with "Twin Peaks Orchids," the lamb with "Del Rio Botanicals" and "Yolo Hodge Podge of Baby Squash."
We tried dinner. The pistachio encrusted salmon ($28) was tasty, and my buddy's "Painted Hills Natural Angus Beef Tenderloin" ($32), perhaps owing to the Painted Hills botanicals munched naturally by the Angus, was really quite good.
Remember, the hotel grounds include spots for three new restaurants, in the works. A marina is planned nearby, too, suggesting Stockton diners will rub elbows with Bay Area boaters.
By day, the Hippo's panoramic windows command a cool view across a lawn to the palm-lined waterfront promenade and the channel. The Sheraton's various vantages manage to provide striking views of the waterfront.
Couples are already booking the big lawn inside the "V" for weddings, said Jeroen L. M. Gerrese, the hotel's Amsterdam-born vice president, who stopped by our table to ask us if we were enjoying ourselves.
He ended up sitting with us for two hours and several more rounds. He's quite a guy, having managed top hotels from New York to Moscow. He's got the hospitality thing down, that's for sure.
The hotel has applied for permits for an infinity pool by the channel, or some sort of fountain, Gerrese said. An infinity pool by the river would be something.
Gerrese shared some local angles on the hotel: the food is local, the wine list local, the lobby art is out of the Tidewater Gallery, room art features Delta photography by Rich Turner, and the historical photos of Stockton hail from the Bank of Stockton archives.
The next day, Gerrese showed me the hotel rooms. They are spacious, done in nautical blues and whites, with partial wood floors, handsome modern cherry wood desks and flat-screen TVs. Rooms are hot spots -- for Internet, I hasten to add. The views take in a waterfront that looks like Stockton's, only better.
I could go on. But check it out for yourself. The Sheraton Stockton Hotel at Regent Pointe is a four-star revival of Stockton's historic waterfront.
Contact columnist Michael Fitzgerald at (209) 546-8270 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
To see more of The Record, or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.recordnet.com.
Copyright (c) 2007, The Record, Stockton, Calif.
Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services. For reprints, email email@example.com, call 800-374-7985 or 847-635-6550, send a fax to 847-635-6968, or write to The Permissions Group Inc., 1247 Milwaukee Ave., Suite 303, Glenview, IL 60025, USA.