Playing life size chess, black and white

Resort History

Legacies Live On

Constructed in grand form and following the celebrated vision of Frank Lloyd Wright, Arizona Biltmore, A Waldorf Astoria Resort, has drawn influential, inspiring guests to discover desert wonder since 1929. Explore our storied past below and sign up for an insightful history tour when you arrive.

Biltmore Block

1928: “Biltmore Block”

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 embedded 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 in 1929

1929: 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 a 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.

Catalina Pool in 1930

1930: Wrigley’s

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 famed song composer Irving Berlin penned many tunes including “White Christmas.”

Hotel exterior

1973: Talley Industries

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 $2.5 million 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.

Flowers on the Biltmore grounds

1975: Paradise Wing

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.

Stone statue of a woman

1985: The Sprites

Designed in 1914 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 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.

Cottage interior

1987: Remodeling

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.

Hotel exterior

1992: Major Renovation

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.

Arizona Biltmore grounds with hills in the distance

1996: Project Complete

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.

A woman at the spa

1998: 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.

Hotel exterior at night

2003: Arizona’s Largest 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 second-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.

John & Jacquie Kennedy
Eisenhower golfing at the resort

2009: Presidential Visits

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 Barack Obama has been a guest.

Golf course from the air

2009: 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.

Speakeasy

2014: Recent Renovations

The iconic Arizona Biltmore 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.

Guest room

2016: Historic Main Building Refresh

Bringing a fresh perspective to a design icon, the Arizona Biltmore premiered a stunning refresh of its historic main building – spanning the lobby, key social spaces and 77 original guest rooms in the fall of 2016.

Saguaro Pool
Cottage
Deck chairs poolside

2021: Biltmore Reinvented

The legendary “Grand Dame” luxury escape has been recognized since opening in 1929 for its distinctive Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired architectural style and these new enhancements will reveal a thoughtful re-envisioning that retains the essence of the Wright design while infusing glamorous touches that appeal to the desires of today’s discriminating traveler. A sophisticated adult pool, a fun family pool, an incredible outdoor bar, and fresh spa & fitness facilities and dining options give our enduring resort new life, while honoring our incredible past.