24 Hours at the Arizona Biltmore Hotel
Every Summer, Phoenicians get the benefit of living in a state sprinkled with luxury hotels when the heat rises, and hotel rates fall. To kick off staycation season, my husband and I checked in at the Arizona Biltmore hotel for a 24-hour stay. With room rates typically over $500/night, we were thrilled to secure a room (and an upgrade!) for under $300/night. With six pools and five restaurants, 24-hours was hardly enough time to experience everything this hotel has to offer, but I have learned so much about this place, I’m eager to return.
The Arizona Biltmore is a truly unique and grand hotel having opened in 1929 and currently on its 90th year of welcoming everyone from residents on a staycation to sitting presidents. Its history is nothing short of glamorous, starting with the architects; Frank Lloyd Wright, Arizona’s treasured architect, consulted on the design of the hotel with one of his former students, Albert Chase McArthur. The hotel was built out of ‘Biltmore blocks,’ a type of block used initially in Wright’s home designs, that are “made from desert sand on-site and created in 34 different geometric patterns inspired by the trunk of a palm tree.” The grand opening of the hotel was such a sought-after affair that the one-day party turned into three, so it is only fitting that the Arizona Biltmore is celebrating 90 years, all year long, with events and spa services like:
🥂A Happy Hour History Tour
🥂An excursion to the Grand Canyon to celebrate its 100th anniversary
🥂A 15-minute lip painting at the Marilyn Monroe Smooch Station at the Spa
🥂A diamond face mask with a glass of champagne
🥂An afternoon tea experience exploring the most popular teas in the past 90 years
Overlooking the Arizona Biltmore is the Wrigley Mansion constructed by William Wrigley Jr. (as in the chewing gum), an investor and eventually sole owner of the Arizona Biltmore. Wrigley built the mansion as a 50th wedding anniversary present to his wife, which included tiles from his family’s tile company in Catalina, California. Those same tiles are also in the first pool built at the Arizona Biltmore, commissioned by Wrigley, and appropriately called the Catalina pool. During my stay, I asked a member of the hotel staff which pool they recommended besides the main pool, and he answered, “I always say the Catalina pool because that’s where Marilyn Monroe used to sunbathe.”
We stayed in the Paradise Wing and were able to get upgraded to a suite, which deserves mention because room 2302, offers a wrap-around patio with views of the main pool. Considering the Reagans honeymooned here and every U.S. president from Herbert Hoover to George W. Bush have visited this iconic resort, it was fun laying by the pool and wondering who else might have stayed in that room or enjoyed that patio. Given that the Paradise Wing was not constructed until 1975 when ownership changed hands and the resort expanded it could have been anyone from Nixon to G.W. Bush.
The property is so beautiful, but I have to admit that the spa was disappointing. I scheduled one of their summer specials before check-in, and it was so outdated that I assumed there had been no renovation since its construction in 1998. To my surprise, it went under renovation as recent as 2014, which makes me genuinely curious as to what it looked like in 1998. Given the peak-season hotel prices, I would expect better. With that said, it was the best massage I’ve ever had. Figures.
Overall, the Arizona Biltmore is worth a visit. Whether your interests are in design or celebrities, there’s something for everyone. If you’re still left wanting more, check out the Mystery Room, a Prohibition-era speakeasy that is open to the public and serves cocktails. That is if you can find it.