The Arizona Biltmore

The Arizona Biltmore


So much of what I love about traveling is taking the tours and hearing the stories. Anytime I can hear an interesting, inspiring or funny story, I consider a tour to be a success. In my opinion, since often times the tours are free or close to it, it’s a great idea to take tours whenever they’re offered. Most times the tour guides are volunteers and just want to share information about a person or place that they are passionate about, which usually makes for a wonderful time.

Deemed the “Jewel of the Desert” since 1929, The Arizona Biltmore tour was well worth the $10 price tag. It would have been free with a reservation there, but that was not in the budget at this time (darn it), so I drove from Peoria on a Thursday morning to catch the 10:00 tour. I left my usual 10-15 minutes after I should have, and then had a terrible time finding the place, which got me there past tour time. Google maps said I was there and clearly… I was not. Luckily another tour was available on Saturday, so I drove around to find it and set my sights on Saturday’s tour. Friday night I moved to a hotel in Scottsdale, which made the commute a lot less stressful.

The top picture was taken from The Arizona Biltmore’s website, which offers other stunning photos of the rooms and grounds. The rest of the photos in this blog are mine, but it was very difficult to get an outside front picture of the place without cars or people swarming around.

Although not “officially” designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, his influences are all over this beautiful hotel. And with each renovation, more and more of his signature elements were added. His “Saguaro Forms and Cactus Flowers” stained glass that Wright had designed as a magazine cover for Liberty Magazine in 1926, was fabricated by Taliesin students and installed during the 1973 hotel renovations and restoration.

“The Arizona Biltmore is a living architectural masterpiece, showcasing the seminal influence of America’s most heralded architect, Frank Lloyd Wright. As the consulting architect, Wright collaborated with a former student, Albert Chase McArthur. Wright’s dramatic style and imprimatur are imbedded throughout the resort’s design. The Biltmore was erected entirely of “Biltmore Block,” a variation on a textile block first used by Wright to construct private homes. The pre-cast blocks were made from desert sand on-site and created in 34 different geometric patterns inspired by the trunk of a palm tree.” – Read More about the Arizona Biltmore HERE.

It is definitely a top notch hotel and “some day” I’ll have to stay there, just to say I did. But for now, I’ll settle for my stories – and there are quite a few.

Originally you could stay here by invitation only and the powers-that-be didn’t let just anyone in. Celebrities, presidents – you get the idea. It wasn’t until 1973, when it changed ownership once again that it became a traditional hotel. It is said that every president of the United States has visited there, with the exception of Barack Obama. Not sure if his plans include a trip, just to keep the streak alive.

Irving Berlin sat poolside and wrote “White Christmas” and Marilyn Monroe called the Biltmore’s her favorite pool. Ronald and Nancy Reagan, as well as Clark Gable and Carol Lombard honeymooned here. Is was said it was a mystery where all the men disappeared to after dinner, but it wasn’t a mystery what was going on in the Mystery Room during prohibition. The spotlight, high atop the building (pictured) was used to warn of a raid by shining the beam into one of two skylights. The one pictured is in the History Room and the other – conveniently located in the ceiling of the Mystery Room.

In 1929 the Aztec Room was second only to the Taj Mahal in square footage of gold leaf ceiling. The room is round and has a spot on the floor that is acoustically perfect. There is a stage and would be the perfect place for a wedding reception. The Gold Room would be great for an even larger reception and, along with also having gold leaf on the ceiling, has two original linen tapestries, which are insured for millions.

The lobby is fabulous and the hotel offers at least two restaurants (pictured). I have so many more pictures, but I’ll cut it off here. Let it just be said that this was a superb stop and if you love Frank Lloyd Wright as much as I do, you should definitely visit on your next trip to Phoenix.

Happy Trails,

Barbara Olson

Barbara Olson

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