Deco luxe at the Arizona Biltmore Resort

The deco entrance sign, welcomes you to the Arizona Biltmore, Phoenix AZ photo Steve Collins

The deco entrance sign, welcomes you to the Arizona Biltmore photo/Steve Collins

The moment you drive under the port cochére and the valet arrives to open the car door you know you’re in the proverbial lap of luxury. As you enter the Art Deco hotel pretend you’ve traveled back in time to 1929 when the iconic luxury resort, called the “Jewel of the Desert,” first opened. Picture chic women dressed in flowing flowered chiffon dresses on the arms of linen jacketed men in their straw boaters or Panama hats. It’s all very Scott Fitzgerald and very glamorous. Welcome to the Arizona Biltmore.

Arizona Biltmore history and the Wright connection

"Saguaro Forms" stained glass installation in the Biltmore entry based on a Frank Lloyd Wright design originally meant to be a cover for Mercury Magazine, photo/courtesy Arizona Biltmore

“Saguaro Forms” stained glass installation in the Biltmore entry is based on a Frank Lloyd Wright design originally meant to be a cover for Mercury Magazine, photo/courtesy Arizona Biltmore

The Arizona Biltmore was conceived in 1927 by Phoenix entrepreneurs, brothers Warren and Charles McArthur who teamed up with the Bowman-Biltmore Hotel Group. Their objective: to build an exclusive hotel for the very wealthy who wanted to winter in Arizona. They hired their brother, architect Albert Chase McArthur, who’d studied with Frank Lloyd Wright to design the luxury property. He in turn, hired his mentor as a consultant. Although the noted architect’s stay on the project was short-lived, the hotel looks very Wright in many ways. One of the main reasons is the use of the Wright-designed “textile block” system. He pioneered this in Southern California in the early twenties. It was used it in houses he designed including La Miniatura in Pasadena and the Ennis House in LA. The precast, concrete blocks with 34 different elegant designs set into them were inspired by ancient Mayan buildings at Uxmal in the Yucatán. These are the Arizona Biltmore’s building blocks and one of the reasons this vintage luxury property is so iconic.

s detail of Frank Lloyd Wright's "texitle block" syt the Arizona Biltmore in Phoenix AZ,photo Steve Collins

A detail of Frank Lloyd Wright’s “textile block” ,photo/Steve Collins

One of the hotel’s original investors, Chicago magnate William Wrigley Jr. of chewing gum fame, bought out the McArthur brothers share a year after the hotel opened. The guest register read like a who’s who of American wealth, politics and Hollywood. Entry to this exclusive conclave was by invitation only. If you showed up at the front desk looking to stay the night or longer unless you had an official invitation you were turned away. It stayed that way until 1973 when the Wrigleys sold the property to Tally Industries who opened the luxury resort to all. The original hotel consisted of the Main Building, the Garden Wing and 15 cottages (11 are still standing). The addition of the Paradise Wing in 1975 was their first expansion. Today the hotel offers 740 guestrooms and suites.

The Writley Manison, Phoenix Arizona

The Wrigley Mansion, photo Steve Collins

Wrigley built a mansion La Colina Solana (the sunny hill) on a hill overlooking the hotel. The Spanish-style 17,000 square foot home was the smallest of their five homes. Today you can dine at the mansion, have your special event there or take a historic tour of the property. Information is on their website.

The Arizona Biltmore today


Premium room in the Paradise Wing at the Arizona Biltmore, Phoenix AZ photo Steve Collins

Our room in the Paradise wing, photo/Steve Colline

Today, while the past is evoked at the 39-acre Arizona Biltmore, it is very much in the present after a 2014 renovation.While honoring its history, 21st century amenities are what this luxury property is all about. Guest rooms are equipped with fabulous bathrooms with double rectangular sinks, granite counters, walk-in showers tiles with sexy black hexonginal, luxurious bath sheets, a lighted magnifying mirror and premium bath products that make guest feel pampered.

The contemporary bathrooms with walk0in showers are a treat photo/courtesy Arizona Biltmore

The contemporary bathrooms with walk-in showers are a treat photo/courtesy Arizona Biltmore

Our room was in the Paradise Valley wing. Our ground floor room had a private patio, accessed by a paned glass door. I spent an relaxing few hours sitting on a comfortable chair, feet up, watching hummingbirds frolic. The room, done in a restful pale green was welcoming. The desk, equipped with lots of accessible desk-top outlets, was great for us as both a charging station and a place to set up our laptop so we could get a bit of work done. Ample closet space and drawers make it clear that for many guests the Biltmore becomes home away from home for a while.

If you really want to splurge, book accommodations in Ocatilla the resort’s, luxurious “club accommodations.” In addition to spacious rooms with a nightly turn-down bath, guests can enjoy the private lounge. The lounge amenities include continental breakfast, complimentary copies of the New York Times or Wall Street Journal, wine, beer and soft drinks throughout the day and evening hors d’œuvres (all complimentary), as well as a dedicated concierge service. You can add the club lounge services to any room. The current fee is $50 per room per day.

Abstract sculpture in front of the Terrace Wing photo/Billie Frank

Abstract sculpture in front of the Terrace Court Building photo/Billie Frank

The Biltmore graciously included club service with our room. We enjoyed feeling pampered. We breakfasted there both days. Sunday was a real treat as we got to read the Sunday New York Times on the patio as we ate. The ample offerings included fresh fruit, yogurt, cereal, granola, pastries, croissants, bagels, hard-boiled eggs, coffee and tea. We went for hors d’œuvres one of the nights we were at the resort. There were cheeses, crackers, hot offerings such as mini-quiches, wine and beer. There was also an honor bar for liquor. The concierge service was gracious. When I left something in the lounge, they offered to deliver it to my room. Since we were on our way to dinner, it was immediately delivered to me in front of the hotel. That’s great service!


Alfonso Ianelli sculptres are found aroound the grounds at the Arizona Biltmore Phoenix AZ,, behind these, a view of Camelback, photo Steve Collins

Alfonso Ianelli sculptures dot the grounds, behind; a view of Camelback, photo Steve Collins

The over 39 acres of manicured lawns and gardens that make the Arizona Biltmore a verdant paradise in the arid desert are home to eight swimming pools. The Catalina Pool built by the Wrigley’s the 1930s was named for the California island they owned. Back in the day, the pool, which features colorful tiles from Catalina Island, saw diving competitions, fashion shows and social events. It’s said to have been a favorite spot for Marilyn Monroe; Irving Berlin composed White Christmas there in the Phoenix sunshine.

The Paradise Pool- really three pools in one, at the Arizona Biltmore, Phoenix AZ photo Steve Collins

The Paradise pool, photo/Steve Collins

The Paradise Pool is really three pools combined to “create a spectacular desert oasis.” Kids love it for the 92 foot water slide and adults love the swim-up bar. Really want to splurge? Rent one of the luxury pool-side cabanas. The pools are the perfect place for guests to relax and unwind. Want to relax even more? Book a pampering treatment or a day at Spa Biltmore.

The property is large and depending on where your room is, it could be a healthy walk. We enjoyed it, especially after a meal. Guests who are mobility impaired can request transportation assistance, as can anyone who may not want to walk.


Wright's, the signature reatuerant at the Arizona Biltmore, Phoenix AZ photo Steve Collins

Wright’s, the hotel’s signature restaurant, photo/Steve Collins

Wright’s at the Biltmore, the resort’s signature restaurant, offers, “fresh cuisine reflecting an innovative culinary style characterized by vibrant, local ingredients.” The wood and block room is brightened by a wall of windows. In warm weather, and there’s a lot of it here, there’s a lovely shaded dining patio. Frank & Albert’s, the more casual eatery, named for the two architects associated with the Biltmore serves three meals a day offering “fresh interpretations of old favorites, local ingredients….” At dinner you’ll find platters of starters “for the table” appetizers, salads, sandwiches, pastas and pizzas, a few comfort food entrees such a meatloaf and pot pie alongside more serious entrees such as diver scallops and steak. The Wright Bar, open from 2pm to about 2am daily, is a gathering place for guests to unwind and mingle while enjoying signature cocktails, fine wines, craft beer and light food. The bar has history. Its piano has been played by celebrities such as Billy Joel. One legendary night, Sinatra, Davis and Minnelli entertained startled guests with an impromptu late-night show. And, a bartender at the Biltmore is said to have created a drink for a guest that inspired the Tequila Sunrise.

The Gestalt

This stunning fountain backed by Wright's textile blocks and greenery graces the entry at the Arizona Biltmore Phoenix AZ photo Billie FrankPhoenix AZ photo Billie Frank

This stunning fountain backed by Wright’s textile blocks and greenery graces the entry to the hotel photo/Billie Frank

You may know that we love historic hotels. We’ve wanted to stay at the Arizona Biltmore, now a Waldorf Astoria Resort, for years. Though anyone can stay there these days, the luxury property retains its air of noblesse oblige and all this comes at a price. If you can’t afford to stay, come and have a drink, a meal or take the really informative Biltmore History Tour offered on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays at 10am. The approximately 90-minute tour is free to hotel guests. The public is welcome at a charge of $10 per person. If you’re a history or architecture buff, I highly recommend it. These magnificent buildings that conjure up Frank Lloyd Wright and an elegant era are not to be missed. We would have settled for the tour, but we got Paradise as well.

Author’s note: We were hosted by the Arizona Biltmore for two nights. All opinions are our own.

8 Responses to “Deco luxe at the Arizona Biltmore Resort”

  1. Donna Janke
    November 12, 2019 at 4:46 pm #

    I love the atmosphere at the Arizona Biltmore. I haven’t stayed there, but I did take the history tour last year and agree it is worth doing, whether you are a guest at the hotel or not. I wrote about the tour -
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    • Billie Frank
      November 12, 2019 at 5:48 pm #

      Staying at the hotel was amazing. Hope you get to do it some day. The tour was excellent. We’ll do a post on it in the future. Thanks for sharing yours.

  2. Betsy Wuebker | PassingThru
    November 16, 2019 at 1:17 am #

    Very Frank Lloyd Wright looking! Oh to have been part of the hoi polloio in its heyday. The room and bath look very luxurious!
    Betsy Wuebker | PassingThru recently posted..Hotel Review: Ramada Phuket DeevanaMy Profile

    • Billie Frank
      November 16, 2019 at 8:40 am #

      Everything at the Arizona Biltmore is very luxurious. The room was also very comfortable.

  3. Michele Peterson ( A Taste for Travel)
    November 16, 2019 at 11:08 am #

    I just love how the contemporary style blends so well with the Art Deco architecture at this hotel. The Arizona Biltmore would be my choice of a luxe place to stay for that reason alone but the pool itself is also appealing. That detail of the Frank Lloyd Wright “textile block” really shows off the glamorous style of this important building. Great post

    • Billie Frank
      November 16, 2019 at 3:09 pm #

      Thanks for your kind words! There are 8 pools at the Biltmore. And the Deco and contemporary styles work well together,

  4. The GypsyNesters
    November 16, 2019 at 4:09 pm #

    Certainly looks as though they were successful at creating a great getaway for wintering in Arizona. Maybe not the entire winter for some of us on a slightly tighter budget than those captains of industry though.
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    • Billie Frank
      November 16, 2019 at 4:12 pm #

      They were and that’s exactly who was here the first forty-four years. It was certainly a rarefied mini-world and still is to some extent.

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