Phoenix’s Historic Desert Jewel: Arizona Biltmore

It’s hard to find a historic property that combines both old world glamour and classic elegance with stunning architectural design, but that’s just what you will find at the Arizona Biltmore. This iconic property was once the seasonal playground to many wealthy socialites and prominent politicians, who came here for a true escape from it all when it first opened in 1929. Today, the 39-acre oasis offers two PGA golf courses and eight swimming pools and a 22,000 square foot spa and fitness center.

Arizona Biltmore ExteriorPhoto Credit: Arizona Biltmore

Rob Razavi, lead historian, recently took me on a tour of the property so I could learn more about the historic hotel. “In 1928, Frank Lloyd Wright joined the team as a consultant to the hotel project,” he said. “More than 33,000 tons of copper were used and there are three rooms in existence today that have the original gold leaf ceiling. The original cost to build the hotel in 1929 was $1.1 million, but then the stock market crashed, unemployment went up and William Wrigley came along and purchased the property and operated it for 44 years. There were 1,300 acres when the hotel was originally constructed, but over the years, they sold much of the property and now there are 39 acres.”

Arizona BiltmorePhoto Credit: Arizona Biltmore

The Mystery Room, the Prohibition-era “speakeasy” that is now used as a pop up bar and event space, has been re-mastered with a sophisticated new look that recalls the seductive style of the resort’s early years. You could almost envision the Gatsby-esque era as Razavi lit up telling how “guests were by invitation only and they hosted celebrities like Marilyn Monroe (who preferred to lounge at the Catalina Pool) and Clark Gable, who came to dine in the Gold Room, the original dining room of the resort, where they held dancing and a live orchestra every night. Dinner was held at 6 p.m. every night from 1929 to 1972. Mr. Wrigley sold the company in 1973 and that’s when it was opened to the public.”

Arizona BiltmorePhoto Credit: Arizona Biltmore

Since then, the hotel has attracted some of the biggest names in Hollywood, including Frank Sinatra and Liza Minelli, and many US Presidents (Cottage L was a favorite of Ronald and Nancy Reagan). We recently stayed in a private standalone king cottage with a fire pit tucked away in this desert oasis that offered a beautiful resort view, flat screen television and Salvatore Ferragamo bath amenities. There are suites and villas in addition to traditional accommodations, but those in the know come here to stay in one of the 120 rooms at Ocatilla, an exclusive “hotel within the hotel” that features luxe club accommodations, a private lounge, and a private pool area complete with food and beverage service.

Arizona BiltmorePhoto Credit: Arizona Biltmore

We recommend having dinner at the on-site restaurant Frank & Albert’s named after the resort’s architectural inspirations Frank Lloyd Wright and Albert Chase McArthur, Start off with a prickly pear margarita or gin martini and sample some creative starters like smoked trout before moving onto a fork tender filet mignon served with a side of Brussels sprouts. There is a more formal dining option, Wright’s, featuring dishes like tea smoked duck, buffalo tenderloin and roasted Guinea hen.

Arizona BiltmorePhoto Credit: Arizona Biltmore

Did we mention there are eight different pools to choose from here? Our favorite was the Paradise Pool, which featured a 92. ft.-water slide, swim-up bar and private pool-side cabanas. For some quiet respite, head over to the Terrace Court Pool located on the Terrace Court. Marilyn Monroe’s favorite, the Catalina Pool, which was built by the Wrigley family in the 1930s and features colorful tiles from California’s Catalina Island, has been host to diving competitions, fashion shows and social events.
Arizona BiltmorePhoto Credit: Arizona Biltmore

Whether you come for a weekend getaway or a week long escape, the Arizona Biltmore will surely provide a much needed respite.

The Arizona Biltmore is located at 2400 East Missouri Avenue in Phoenix, Arizona.