The industrial Renton you’re familiar with is evolving into a destination city with Southport at Lake Washington as its crowning jewel. New construction is breathing life into the area with an office campus underway, luxury residential buildings, shopping, and a Hyatt Regency that is reason alone to book a vacation.
It’s impossible not to feel the stress of life lifting off your shoulders while reclined in an Adirondack chair, with a glass of wine in hand, sitting just feet from Lake Washington. Small airplanes glide overhead beneath the thick canvas of clouds, and the sound of seagulls is faint enough to be relaxing.
The experience at Southport in Renton is one that can’t be replicated. The once-industrial area — home to Boeing’s 747 factory and operations for Puget Sound Energy — is slowly being redeveloped and redefined by Class “A” office space, high-end apartments, restaurants and retail, and the Hyatt Regency.
CEO Michael Christ of SECO Development — a Renton company incorporated in 1989 that specializes in infill, high-end mixed-use projects with an emphasis on residential, hotel, office, and retail — had his eye on the waterfront property for years, knowing the area could be revived if it was infused with people to enjoy its offerings. His vision for Southport has been more than 20 years in the making, but SECO’s development projects in their current state are just a taste of what’s to come.
Being in such close proximity to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, Seattle, the Eastside’s bustling cities, and numerous activities, Southport in Renton makes for a luxurious staycation or home base for your visiting friends and family.
The Hyatt Regency opened July 2017, and it’s the molecular details of its construction that truly make it special. A feng shui expert was flown in from China to advise on the layout and design elements. The shape of the hotel represents a figure sitting in the middle of the structure, with the U-shaped wings as the arms resting outward toward the water. The “hat” on the top of the building is the crown placed atop the sitting figure and was added to the building to keep the luck inside. The Asian influences carry throughout the hotel (and SECO’s neighboring Class “A” office campus) with a caressing touch, from the interior design, to the spa, to the Water’s Table restaurant menu.
Upon entering the lobby, sightlines of the water and warm, walnut finishes welcome guests. Everything about the design was crafted to balance the hotel’s waterfront location with rich tones and grounding stone and wood elements that juxtapose the fluidity of the lake. And the rooms were uniquely configured to capitalize on the views, so roughly 80 percent overlook Lake Washington.
Drop your bags inside one of the luxurious, modern suites, and then head down to the spa for an afternoon of relaxation. Be sure to make an appointment ahead of time, choosing from a menu of tantalizing options. One of the most popular choices is the Calm Mind Massage. It begins with a scalp massage using a signature blend of lavender, peppermint, and tea tree oil. Take a deep breath to settle your mind. The full-body massage is heavenly paired with a warm bamboo foot massage and scrub. And since this is a vacation, why not add in a facial that detoxifies your skin, leaving you with a renewed glow? All the spa experiences are tailored to the Swedish Kerstin Florian products used.
The spa is next door to the fitness center, and it’s not the minimalistic hotel gym you’ve experienced in the past. It also overlooks the water with a variety of cardio and strength training equipment. The saline pool is in the same wing, along with a large whirlpool, hot tub, and steam room.
Now that you’re feeling refreshed, take a short walk over to Gene Coulon Memorial Beach Park. It offers 57 acres of paved walking trails, tennis and volleyball courts, boat launches, and fishing docks. This time of year, the scenic park is glowing with red and orange fall leaves, and the linear trail follows the waterline and leads to Ivar’s Seafood Restaurants & Chowder and Kid Valley restaurant. Covered and uncovered picnic tables also are scattered around the park. If you take the road past the north end of the park, you’ll arrive at the Seahawks’ training center, The Virginia Mason Athletic Center. You may even be lucky enough to spot one of the players around town. Many of them live in the Southport area.
The Landing, a mixed-use residential and shopping center on Southport Drive, offers a myriad of restaurants, including Vino at The Landing, an excellent wine bar. Also in the complex is The Seahawks Pro Shop, which is one of only two in the state — the other is located at CenturyLink Field.
While you’re in Southport, though, you must try Peyrassol Café, which is just a few paces from the entrance of the Hyatt. The quaint café offers an intimate environment and meals that rival other Eastside restaurants. Order one of the pasta dishes. The hand-cut noodles nestled with fresh vegetables and sauce are the ultimate comfort food, without the heavy feeling.
Once the neighboring office campus is finished — the third and final building is scheduled for completion in late 2019 — a whole new menu of offerings will be available to Southport visitors. It’s too early to say who the retail tenants will be, but one exciting restaurant has announced it will be opening there. Black Rooster, a renowned farm-to-table Chinese restaurant, decided to open its first North American location in Southport. Its famous black chicken soup is known to have people waiting in line out the door.
So, you’ve toured Southport, and now for the grand finale. You can’t leave the area without dining at the award-winning Water’s Table. We can personally say it lives up to the hype.
The neutral tones and soft lighting allow the food and libations to be the focal point, along with the Lake Washington view, of course. Arrive just before sunset to watch the sun quietly melt into the clouds until the sky matches the deep blue lake.
Try the Summer Nights Dream cocktail with Crater Lake Vodka, lemon juice, strawberry pureé, rhubarb bitters, and sparkling rosé. The bright strawberry flavor married with the crisp, bubbly rosé makes this drink one to experience. For dinner, order the Shoyu Duck. It’s slow-roasted and served with Asian pears, green apple slivers, and cabbage. If you’re one to avoid duck because you’re not a fan of the fatty meat, we encourage you to give this a try. It’s cooked so the interior is tender and juicy, and the exterior skin is crispy and lightly seasoned.
End the night with a rich dessert, like the Prada 9, a spongy chocolate cake with coffee sabayon and chocolate mousse. Whatever you do, you must order the Taylor Fladgate Porto off the dessert menu, and it pairs beautifully with the Prada 9. The 20-year port from Portugal is perfection. The blend of oak and fruit has a slight caramel finish and is the ultimate nightcap. Take your drink downstairs to the outside seating area. The restaurant shares a border with Boeing, and there’s nothing like enjoying the waning day next to a flickering fire with stately Boeing 747 planes 150 feet away.