The Arizona Biltmore offers History Tours three times per week:
Tours are 1.5 hours long and available on Tuesdays, Thursdays & Saturdays at 10am. Tours are free to registered hotel guests and just $10 per guest not staying in the hotel. You must call ahead to reserve your spot as space is limited on the weekly tours and fill up quickly.
Please contact the Arizona Biltmore Concierge at 602-955-6600.
Private tours for groups of 10 or more are available upon request - private tours are based on availability and are offered separate from the weekly tours. Please call for rates and available dates.
ARIZONA BILTMORE HISTORY
One of the only existing luxury hotels in the world with a Frank Lloyd Wright-influenced design, The Arizona Biltmore has been an Arizona landmark since its opening on Feb. 23, 1929 when it was crowned "The Jewel of the Desert." The resort was designed by Albert Chase McArthur, a Harvard graduate, who had studied under Frank Lloyd Wright from 1907 - 1909 in Chicago.
Perhaps the most obvious and dramatic design link to Wright is the use of indigenous materials that led to the creation of the "Biltmore Block." The pre-cast concrete blocks were molded on-site and used in the total construction of the resort. Designed by McArthur and sculpted by Emry Kopta, a prominent southwestern sculptor, the "Biltmore Block" features a geometric pattern that is said to represent a freshly cut palm tree.
Did you know that the famed song composer Irving Berlin penned many tunes, including "White Christmas" while sitting poolside at the Arizona Biltmore?
The pool was first built by the Wrigleys in 1930 and was host to diving competitions as well as fashion shows. Marilyn Monroe called this her favorite pool.
In 1930, when the estimated $1 million construction cost doubled, Chicago chewing gum magnate William Wrigley, Jr., one of the original investors in the project, became the sole owner. Over the next 44 years, the Wrigley family owned and operated the Arizona Biltmore and it became world renowned as the preferred luxury oasis for celebrities, heads of state, captains of industry and other famous travelers.
In May of 1973, the Wrigley family sold the Biltmore to Talley Industries, which closed the resort for renovations that summer. During the installation of a new sprinkler system, a welding torch ignited a fire which resulted in $2.5M in damages. Taliesin Associated Architects (of Taliesin West) was commissioned to design and supervise the construction of the damaged floors, and a renovation of the resort. As in 1929, concrete blocks were molded on-site; patterns from the early 1920s were woven into carpets ordered from Ireland, and designs for furniture, fabrics and murals were selected with the integrity of the architecture in mind. The project was completed in a record 82 days and the result was a finer, more complete hotel than had previously existed.
In 1975, under Talley Industries' ownership, the first major expansion took place with the opening of the 90-room Paradise Wing. This expansion continued over the next seven years with the addition of the 120-room Valley Wing and a 39,000-square-foot Conference Center in 1979. In 1982, the 109-room Terrace Court opened. Another renovation was completed in 1987 which included the remodeling of 120 guestrooms throughout the main building in addition to the East and Garden Wings. A year later, the historic cottages were also refurbished.
The most comprehensive renovation to date began when the previous owner, Grossman Company Properties, a Phoenix based development firm, purchased the resort in 1992 and began a three-phase, $50 million project which was completed in January 1996. Refurbished by Barry Design Associates of Los Angeles, guest rooms and suites pay homage to Frank Lloyd Wright in their mission-style furnishings, desert palette (tones of beige, sand, and ivory) and lamps which recall a 1930s flair. 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 square-foot facility. An 18-hole championship putting course was also added.
In January 1998, a 20,000 square-foot Arizona Biltmore Spa, fitness center and full-service beauty salon opened. The newest addition, the new Arizona Wing, featured 120 new guest rooms, an Olympic-sized swimming pool and two new meeting rooms. The Arizona Wing was completely renovated in March of 2009 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.
With the opening of the Frank Lloyd Wright Ballroom in July, 2003, the Arizona Biltmore became one of Arizona’s largest meeting and event venues. The new ballroom, the state’s second largest hotel ballroom with 25,000 square feet, was the highlight of a $25 million renovation and expansion of the meeting facilities that increased dedicated indoor function space to more than 100,000 square feet. The project also included converting the tented Pavilion into the 15,000-square-foot McArthur Ballroom. Both new facilities were constructed in the original Wright style.
Thanks to conscientious owners who have been committed to preserving its architectural integrity, the resort is, in many ways, more "Wrightian" than when it was built. And, throughout the years, the Arizona Biltmore has set the standard for elegance and style. It continues to attract celebrities and dignitaries from around the world and is frequently honored with awards and accolades, including the Urban Land Institute "Heritage Award of Excellence" which the resort received for its architectural integrity, landscaping, and above all, quality of service.