One of the only existing luxury hotels in the world with a Frank Lloyd Wright-influenced design, The Arizona Biltmore has been an Arizona landmark since its opening on Feb. 23, 1929 when it was crowned "The Jewel of the Desert." The resort was designed by Albert Chase McArthur, a Harvard graduate, who had studied under Frank Lloyd Wright from 1907 - 1909 in Chicago.
Perhaps the most obvious and dramatic design link to Wright is the use of indigenous materials that led to the creation of the "Biltmore Block." The pre-cast concrete blocks were molded on-site and used in the total construction of the resort. Designed by McArthur and sculpted by Emry Kopta, a prominent southwestern sculptor, the "Biltmore Block" features a geometric pattern that is said to represent a freshly cut palm tree.
Did you know that the famed song composer Irving Berlin penned many tunes, including "White Christmas" while sitting poolside at the Arizona Biltmore?
The pool was first built by the Wrigleys in 1930 and was host to diving competitions as well as fashion shows. Marilyn Monroe called this her favorite pool.
In 1930, when the estimated $1 million construction cost doubled, Chicago chewing gum magnate William Wrigley, Jr., one of the original investors in the project, became the sole owner. Over the next 44 years, the Wrigley family owned and operated the Arizona Biltmore and it became world renowned as the preferred luxury oasis for celebrities, heads of state, captains of industry and other famous travelers.
In May of 1973, the Wrigley family sold the Biltmore to Talley Industries, which closed the resort for renovations that summer. During the installation of a new sprinkler system, a welding torch ignited a fire which resulted in $2.5M in damages. Taliesin Associated Architects (of Taliesin West) was commissioned to design and supervise the construction of the damaged floors, and a renovation of the resort. As in 1929, concrete blocks were molded on-site; patterns from the early 1920s were woven into carpets ordered from Ireland, and designs for furniture, fabrics and murals were selected with the integrity of the architecture in mind. The project was completed in a record 82 days and the result was a finer, more complete hotel than had previously existed.
In 1975, under Talley Industries' ownership, the first major expansion took place with the opening of the 90-room Paradise Wing. This expansion continued over the next seven years with the addition of the 120-room Valley Wing and a 39,000-square-foot Conference Center in 1979. In 1982, the 109-room Terrace Court opened. Another renovation was completed in 1987 which included the remodeling of 120 guestrooms throughout the main building in addition to the East and Garden Wings. A year later, the historic cottages were also refurbished.