Playing life size chess, black and white

Resort History

A Dazzling Legacy

Constructed in grand form and following the celebrated vision of Frank Lloyd Wright, the Arizona Biltmore, A Waldorf Astoria Resort, has been drawing influential, inspiring guests to its desert splendor since 1929. Explore our storied past below, and we would also be delighted to take you on a guided tour of the estate when you next visit.

1928

The Arizona Biltmore is born; a living architectural masterpiece showcasing the work of America’s most heralded architect, Frank Lloyd Wright. Albert Chase McArthur is the hotel’s consulting architect and describes the Arizona Biltmore as his most important work.

The Biltmore is erected entirely of “Biltmore Block,” a variation on a textile block first used by Wright to construct private homes. The iconic Biltmore blocks come in 34 different designs and are all crafted onsite, using the very earth beneath us.

Hotel exterior
1930

Chicago chewing gum magnate William Wrigley, Jr. becomes the sole owner and builds the resort’s first swimming pool; The Catalina Pool. The historic pool is renowned as Marilyn Monroe’s favorite, and is also the site where Irving Berlin penned many tunes including “White Christmas.”

Catalina Pool in 1930
1973

The Wrigley family sell the Biltmore to Talley Industries and, during the installation of a new sprinkler system, a welding torch ignites a fire, resulting in $2.5 million of damage. Taliesin Associated Architects renovate the resort in a record 82 days, creating a finer, more complete hotel than had previously existed.

Hotel exterior
1985

The Sprites arrive. Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright for the Midway Gardens in Chicago, the Sprites were sculpted by Italian artist 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 is still a mystery.) At the request of Mrs. Wright, a mold is made of the “Solemn Sprite” and, from this, six new Sprites are cast and gifted to the Biltmore.

Stone statue of a woman
1992

Major Renovation: Grossman Company Properties, a Phoenix-based firm, buys the resort and begins a $50 million renovation project.

Arizona Biltmore hotel exterior
2003

The Ballroom: With the opening of the beautiful Frank Lloyd Wright Ballroom, the Arizona Biltmore becomes one of Arizona’s largest meeting and event venues.

Hotel exterior at night
2009

Presidential Visits. Ronald and Nancy Reagan celebrated their honeymoon here, and every president, from Herbert Hoover through Barack Obama, has been a guest.

John & Jacquie Kennedy in a black and white photo.
Saguaro Pool
Cottage
Deck chairs poolside

2021

Biltmore Reinvented: This much-loved and revered resort finally undergoes a full renovation to restore the uniquely chic allure that has captivated so many throughout its sun-soaked history.