Photo Courtesy of Arizona Biltmore, A Waldorf Astoria Resort, Phoenix
Arizona Biltmore, A Waldorf Astoria Resort, Phoenix
Marilyn Monroe once proclaimed that her favorite swimming pool was at the Arizona Biltmore. Irving Berlin, obviously a person who didn't know how to relax, is said to have written "White Christmas" while a guest at the hotel. Other guests complained that Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis Jr. were too noisy as they banged away on a piano in the lobby. But that's history, and the Jewel of the Desert, as the 85-year-old hotel was once known, is now just one more sparkling gem in a treasure chest of Arizona resorts. To add to the glitter, the Biltmore has undertaken a major renovation, scheduled for completion in late October 2014. Much of the update is focused on the guest rooms, but meeting spaces, ballrooms, and the spa will also meld a contemporary style with that developed by Frank Lloyd Wright, who played a significant role in determining the hotel's original look. In the guest rooms, Wright's influence will be most notable in the wall coverings, embossed with a design similar to that found on his "Biltmore Blocks," used in the construction of most of the resort. Of course, for guests who didn't come for the history, or the design lecture, there are still the eight swimming pools, seven tennis courts, and, next door at the Arizona Biltmore Country Club, 36 holes of golf.
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The hotel is handy to many Phoenix and Scottsdale attractions and eateries, including the nearby restaurant Tarbells, whose celebrity chef, Mark Tarbell (his accolades include a Best Chef award from Food & Wine), serves up such dishes as "bacon candy" salad. A bit farther afield, but a must-do for any Arizona Biltmore guest caught up in the Frank Lloyd Wright story, is Taliesin West, once Wright's winter home and studio, and still a school for masters-level architecture students.
Need to Know
Rooms: From $109 low season, $279 high season. 738 rooms, including 66 suites. Check-in: 4 p.m.; check-out: noon. Dining options: Of the six restaurants and lounges, Wright's is the most formal. Guests can order off-the-menu such classic fare as beef Wellington and salmon Provençal, or give themselves over to the chef's tasting menu. For lunch, the casual Frank & Albert's is the place to score a burger or pizza. Spa and gym details: A new look is coming, but the Arizona Biltmore Spa's green experience will continue to combine natural and organic products with environmentally aware practices. Facilities include 17 treatment rooms and a 24-hour fitness center.
Who's it for: Anyone reassured by knowing they have access to all the amenities and services only a resort of this scale (732 rooms) can provide. Our favorite rooms: In a resort so large, the 120 Ocatilla rooms, which form a hotel within a hotel, offer their own private pool and an elevated level of concierge service. Local highlight: Make reservations early for the popular 90-minute Arizona Biltmore history tour, which takes place several mornings a week and is free to guests.