by Jesse Stirling

Arizona Biltmore

Arizona inspires a feeling of wide open spaces and adventure, dating back to pioneer territory days. Today, world-class golf courses, five-star resorts, elegant dining and natural wonders attract pleasure seekers from around the globe. From hot city life, to snow skiing, to nature on a grand scale, it’s all in Arizona, where life is lived big, and bathed in sunshine 330 days per year. All who’ve let minds wander into pools of tranquil relaxation will find the Arizona Biltmore a magnificent oasis with a history of living in the moment.

Since 1929, the Arizona Biltmore has been a destination of inspiration. Nestled on 39 acres at the foot of the Phoenix Mountain Preserve, the legendary resort offers: an incredible 22,000 square foot spa and fitness center, a full-service salon, two 18-hole golf courses, six restaurants and lounges, seven tennis courts, eight swimming pools, and 740 lavish guest accommodations including 17 magnificent villas. You can swim, hike, bike, play croquet on perfectly manicured lawns, practice your stroke on putting greens, chill in a hammock, play chess on an oversized board, or eat delicious food alfresco under the big desert skies or stars at night. Paradise Pool features a water slide and private cabanas and is open 24 hours per day, like all the pools of the resort. Bubbling fountains and mysterious statues dot outdoor gardens and big open spaces. Squaw Peak forms a majestic mountainous backdrop.

An Arizona landmark since its opening, the Arizona Biltmore remains one of the most recognized resorts in the world for its distinctive Frank Lloyd Wright architectural style, luxurious facilities and storied history as a playground for the rich and famous. Marilyn Monroe, Clark Gable and Humphrey Bogart loved the resort. Irving Berlin penned “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas” by the Catalina Pool. Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis, Jr., Liza Minnelli, Ray Charles, Billy Joel, Elton John and recently Bono have all given impromptu performances on the historic Yamaha Piano which anchors the Lobby Bar. From John McCain’s wedding reception to Ronald Reagan’s honeymoon, the property is an acclaimed destination of presidents, luminaries, visionaries, artists, athletes and social elite; it’s a timeless treasure with a spirited soul.

During prohibition, a reading room cleverly doubled as a “secret bar” where gentleman enjoyed cigars and libations hidden behind a revolving bookcase. Patrons were alerted of a police raid by a signal from an outdoor spotlight and used secret staircases to discretely retire to their chambers. One of Wright’s building motto’s was: “Use what the land gives you.” Hence you’ll find lots of stone and copper in the design, including 40 tons of copper on the Aztec room roof alone. 38,000 square feet of golf leaf line the ceiling of the lobby. The organic architectural philosophy dazzles, while the soothing sound of falling water permeates much of the space.

While at the resort, don’t just eat – have a dining experience. Wright’s Restaurant is the signature eatery, with art deco touches everywhere: stained glass, concrete squares, hammered copper covers on the menus and circular chandeliers exuding dim light. Even the candle holders on the table sport an art deco pattern. Wright’s Manager, Lindsay Srednickiancy, describes the place as “fancy but not too pretentious. It’s upscale, fun dining with a contemporary twist.” When asked what Wright’s is most known for, she responds, “The decor is stunning. The architecture reminds our clientele to look around at the beauty and history.” Diners rave about their Beef Wellington, a filet laced with foie gras, lobster bisque, broccoli with house-made hollandaise sauce, cauliflower soup, and classic Waldorf salad. The menu features a lot of seafood, all cooked to perfection. The must-have dessert is a “study of soufflés” – a trio of mini-desserts whose flavor changes weekly (we enjoyed mint chocolate chip, Grand Marnier, and vanilla anglais). Chef Colin quips, “We have modern cuisine and old classics. We put a lot of love into everything.”

Sunday brunch features: a variety of different Benedicts, cherry pancakes, flap jacks as light as crepes, waffles, specialty pastries, hot plates such as duck confit, lamb, salmon, and an endless buffet of sushi, caviar, shrimp, salads, cheese and charcuterie stations. We sipped Bellinis and took it all in, ending with a creme brûlée medley – rum raisin, orange chocolate, hazelnut, and cinnamon toasted almond. The caring, detailed service is exemplified through our server James, a long-time employee, passionate to share his stories of serving Muhammed Ali iced tea, or the first The Tequila Sunrise being invented at the bar around the corner some 73 years ago.

A variety of amenities await you, unrivaled in grace, at the Arizona Biltmore resort, the hottest destination in the Valley of the Sun. Iconic architecture stirs the area to life, provides a safe haven for celebrities and dignitaries, and plays muse to guests’ whims and wishes.