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.
Arizona Biltmore Opens
The Arizona Biltmore welcomed its first guests in 1929. The much-heralded opening was expanded from one day to three days to accommodate the long list of high society partygoers. According to the press, it was to be the party of the decade, in Arizona and beyond. Invitees felt very privileged as attendance was requested by personal invitation only.
Chicago chewing gum magnate William Wrigley, Jr. became the sole owner and built the resort’s first swimming pool; The Catalina Pool. The historic pool is renowned as Marilyn Monroe’s favorite pool, and the site where the famed song composer Irving Berlin penned many tunes including “White Christmas.”
The Wrigley family sold the Biltmore to Talley Industries and during the installation of a new sprinkler system, a welding torch ignited a fire, resulting in $2.5M of damage. Taliesin Associated Architects renovated the resort over a record 82 days, and the result was a finer, more complete hotel than had previously existed.
Under Talley Industries’ ownership, the first major expansion took place with the opening of the 90-room Paradise Wing. The expansion continued over the next seven years with the addition of the 120-room Valley Wing, a 39,000 sq.ft. Conference Center and the 109-room Terrace Court.
Designed in 1914 by Frank Lloyd Wright for the Midway Gardens in Chicago, the Sprites were sculpted by an Italian artist named Alfonso Ianelli. When the Midway Gardens were demolished, the Sprites were lost until 1945 when they were unearthed in Wisconsin. How they ended up there still remains a mystery. At the request of Mrs. Wright, a mold was made of the “Solemn Sprite.” From this distinctive statue, six new Sprites were cast and gifted to the Arizona Biltmore in 1985.
Another renovation was completed, which included the remodeling of 120 guest rooms throughout the main building, in addition to the East and Garden Wings. A year later, the historic cottages were also refurbished.
Grossman Company Properties, a Phoenix-based development firm, purchased the resort and began a three-phase, $50 million project over four years. The large-scale refurbishment was carried out by Barry Design Associates of Los Angeles, inspired by the style of Frank Lloyd Wright designs and 1930s flair.
The refurbishment was completed with guest rooms and suites designed with mission-style furnishings and a desert palette of beige, sand, and ivory. The Villas, a luxury residential complex was added along with restaurants, a state-of-the-art kitchen and the Paradise Pool complex featuring a 92-foot-long water slide and 23 cabanas. New meeting space included the Pavilion, a 15,000 sq.ft. facility. An 18-hole championship putting course was also added.
World-Class Spa & Fitness
The luxurious 20,000 sq. ft. Arizona Biltmore Spa, fitness center and full-service beauty salon opened. The newest addition, the Arizona Wing, featured 120 new guest rooms, an Olympic-sized swimming pool and two new meeting rooms.
Arizona's Largest Event Venue
With the opening of the Frank Lloyd Wright Ballroom, the Arizona Biltmore became one of Arizona’s largest meeting and event venues. The new 25,000 sq.ft. ballroom became the 2nd largest in the state and increased dedicated indoor function space to more than 100,000 sq.ft. The project also included converting the tented Pavilion into the 15,000 sq.ft. McArthur Ballroom.
Since the hotel opened in 1929, many presidents and dignitaries have vacationed amidst the lush gardens and sun-kissed palm trees of the Arizona Biltmore. Ronald and Nancy Reagan celebrated their honeymoon at the resort, and every president from Herbert Hoover through George W. Bush has been a guest.
One of the Largest Hotels In Arizona
The Arizona Wing was completely renovated to become Ocatilla at Arizona Biltmore, a “hotel within the hotel”. The Arizona Biltmore boasts 740 guest rooms and is one of the largest hotels in Arizona. Throughout the years, the Arizona Biltmore has set the standard for elegance and style, and is in many ways more “Wrightian” than when it was built.
The iconic Arizona Biltmore has recently completed a multi-million-dollar redesign that offers guests modern and refined accommodations while preserving the historic integrity and architecture of the resort. The renovation transformed rooms and suites, meeting spaces, ballrooms, pre-function rooms, Spa Biltmore, as well as the prohibition-era Mystery Room with a sophisticated new look that recalls the seductive style of the resort’s early years.