Since she first threw open her doors in 1929, the iconic Arizona Biltmore, has hosted countless world leaders, every U.S. president for the last 40 years, and copious celebs as well as just regular folks who are looking for some fun in the sun. I’ve always loved it there but if I can be brutally honest, at 85 years old this Grand Dame was starting to show her age a bit. Enter new owners, Waldorf Astoria Hotels and Resorts , who bankrolled a multi-million dollar “facelift” that ensured all her distinctive Frank Lloyd Wright architectural stylish bits were left intact during the subtle modernization.
This chic blend of old and new is apparent when you wander the 39 acres of impeccably manicured gardens; lounge by the eight swimming pools including the spectacular Paradise Pool with its a 92-foot-long water slide; play a game on one of the seven tennis courts or the two 18-hole Championship Golf Courses; browse through the exclusive collection of Biltmore boutiques; de-stress at the 22,000-square-foot spa which features a wide range of natural healing treatments and restorative therapies utilizing both contemporary and ancient body-work techniques.
Many guests choose to workout at the state-of-the-art fitness center before indulging in the hotel’s world-class cuisine available at six restaurants and lounges, including the signature Wright’s at the Biltmore serving classic favorites reinvented for today’s tastes, Wright Bar (try and dibs a patio fire pit with captivating views of majestic Squaw Peak,) the lively Frank & Albert’s offering Arizona comfort food, The Café casual bistro, and the poolside Cabana Club with a swim-up bar.
All dining venues feature a unique, ingredient-centric menu created by the Biltmore’s award-winning Executive Chef Gordon Maybury.
Many guests plan their visit around one of the Biltmore’s special epicurean evenings. Two popular culinary experiences are a Winemaker Dinner at Wright’s, an unforgettable evening filled with culinary delights, fine wine, and discussions with the featured winemaker followed by after-dinner drinks and cigars on Wright’s terrace or you can join in the fun at a Biltmore Beer Dinner, where you’ll feast on a delicious three-course meal paired with beers from Arizona’s finest microbrews, held in the private sunroom of Frank & Albert’s.
Whether you choose to stay in a deluxe guestroom, spacious suite or one of the historic cottages, each of the spacious 800 rooms are decorated in soothing, natural desert tones which play nicely with the light Mission-style wood furnishings, thick mist colored glass-topped bureaus and warm vintage bronze and gold metal accents.
We were awe-struck by the lobby’s original, shimmering gold-leaf ceiling, second in size only to the Taj Mahal
The huge marble bathrooms are perf for a girlfriend getaway with double sinks, deep tubs, hairdryers, and well-lit make-up mirrors. My only complaint was no bathrobes were supplied.
If you “vant to be alone” the Ocatilla, a “boutique hotel nestled within a hotel” complete with a personal concierge, private pool, upgraded spacious guestrooms, therapeutic turndown bath service– a hot bath drawn with soothing sea salt, and a Club Lounge offering complimentary culinary treats throughout the day will fit the bill nicely.
The only thing more interesting than reading about the 85 years of history behind the Biltmore (chock full of intrigue, romance, underhanded dealings by Frank Lloyd Wright, tales about the Rat Pack, Marilyn Monroe, etc.) is to hear about it during a 90 minute guided History Tour of the property, which is offered several times a week.
We listened with rapt attention as Pat, our well-versed historian, shared his stories and let us peek into secret rooms, such as the “Mystery Room” where back in the Prohibition-era guests could smoke a pipe or stogie while swilling bootleg liquor. They cleverly concealed the liquor cabinet in a revolving bookcase should there be a police raid.
We were awe-struck by the lobby’s original, shimmering gold-leaf ceiling, second in size only to the Taj Mahal and the gorgeous stained-glass artwork displayed throughout the property.