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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

King's Pointe Preview

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Chet Culver will get the pointe on Wednesday, but there's no official word on whether the gubernatorial surf shorts and flip flops will be making an appearance.

Culver will be coming for a special personal preview of the King's Pointe Waterpark and a tour of the Project AWAYSIS development on the lakefront. The waterpark will officially open to the public in a ceremony on Friday at 11:40, but Culver was unable to make that event, city officials said.

Meanwhile, the entire King's Pointe development was opened up to the media on Sunday for the first time - much of the finishing work on the lodge hotel and indoor waterpark remain to be done, but progress is clearly being made toward meeting a targeted opening date at the start of August.

Still surrounded in construction dirt and muck, the hotel front entry looms impressively, with cultured stone pillars and wooden beams arching overhead, cues reminiscent of the great lodges of the western national parks.

The theme is picked up inside, where a large stone fireplace stretches up two stories tall.

The entry opens into a large lobby with a two-story wall of windows commanding a sweeping view of the lake. A second story walkway opens into a small balcony overlooking both the lobby and the lake, perhaps the grandest view in the place.

The public rooms have taken shape, with construction continuing inside all winter, but piles of materials and construction tools and machinery scattered throughout evidence much labor remaining to make the deadline.

From the lobby in one direction is a restaurant, to be known as Regatta Grille. Here too, banks of windows, these curving in an arch facing the lake, fill the space with natural light. The multiple levels are formed, and preparations are made for the "presentation kitchen," where chefs will complete meals with a flourish in view of the diners. A hood marks the spot where a big wood-fired grill will stand, to cook all meals using a variety of types of wood for unique flavoring. The restaurant will seat 100-150, with room for another 50-60 on the outdoor dining deck steps away from a sail-in dock.

A short stroll in the opposite direction lead back to the ballroom, which is nearing completion. The access hall is wide and wrapped in shapes of warm yellow and the same kind of stone trim being used outdoors, big enough that it could host displays, a buffet or other welcoming services. The ballroom space itself is not overwhelming in size, but is created with flexibility - it can be separated with slide-away, noise-proofed walls to allow for up to four events to go on at the same time. A series of unusual overhead lights, shaped something like sailing vessels, cast pools of light in the earth-toned ballroom.

Upstairs, the basic construction on many of the guest rooms is complete, with bathroom fixtures, balcony railings, carpet and paint going into place.

The basic double-queen suites are simple and fairly standard in size. Heating-cooling is provided in an enclosed corner, to avoid unsightly registers. The most impessive feature of the yet-to-be furnished rooms are the glass doors leading to wooden balconies - the view from the lakefront side sure to impress.

The suites offer interesting arrangements with noteble space, some with two bedrooms and even a two-person jacuzzi-style tub. Adjacent units can be had to create gathering space for a large family or business group.

The halls are done in shades of brown, with a gentle curve that manages the space in an interesting manner.

Much of the decor will be done in framed historic photos of Storm Lake. Photos provided by the historical society and by local historian Lorraine Peterson are being reproduced for public spaces and guest rooms.

The kitchen is rapidly taking shape, with nearly half-a-million dollars worth of equipment going into place. The Sara Lee Snack Shack, which will serve the indoor and outdoor water park guests, is nearly complete, and will itself offer an impressive choice of fare - the menu is two pages long, according to Project AWAYSIS Director Mike Wilson.

The indoor waterpark is a sprawling structure - larger than it appears from the outside. The three thrill slides are in place in a corner, launching from a common tower. A corner loft provides a place that can be rented for parties overlooking the waterpark.

Much remains only in concrete outlines, but the structure is in place for a small water channel to walk against the current or float with it, a circular relaxation tub with water jets, and a sprayground with electronically-timed jets of cascading water for children to play in.

Just a few steps away, a separate door accesses the outdoor waterpark, which is almost complete and much larger and more elaborate than the blocked view from the nearby road would lead people to expect.

The dominating feature is the slide tower, which up close is a considerable climb. A meandering water channel around the structure is the 440-foot Lazy River, into which all five of the major thrill slides empty. That adventuresome body of water is separate, but adjacent to a more family-oriented pool. The center of this facility has several swim lanes for recreational or competition use. At one end is a diving well with one-meter and three-meter boards. At the other is a kids' Spray Island, with a family slide, a small slide for very young children, sprays and other playthings. A net atttracttion will test youngsters' ability to make their way across the shallow waters. A shaded relaxation area with water jets allows parents the space to unwind within view of the children's areas. A couple of hundred deck chairs and colorful shade structures scattered around the outside of the pool allow people to get out of the sun. Modern changing rooms with an outside bank of weather-resisting lockers, is a far cry from the spartan conditions of the former municipal pool.

The pools have been successfully test-filled with almost 400,000 gallons of water, and even on a Sunday, workers were busy in the waterpark, installing final touches and landscaping for opening ceremonies this Friday at 11:40 a.m.

Culver's visit will not be open to the general public due to the continuing construction on the site, but everyone is encouraged to attend Friday's events, to be followed with a free day of swimming. In case of bad weather, the event will move to Saturday.

The outdoor waterpark will then open for the season at noon daily, with passes available for purchase at the ticket office. Swim lessons, water aerobics, lifeguard training and morning lap swimming registration will be available.

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