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Great Hotels Season 1 - Episode 10: Arizona Biltmore Hotel  

Frank Lloyd Wright's Public Buildings
Frank Lloyd Wright has surely influenced a great deal of structural design in the world, but the only existing hotel in the world that can make that claim is the Arizona Biltmore.  Designed by Albert Chase McArthur, a Harvard graduate who had studied under Frank Lloyd Wright in Chicago from 1907 - 1909, the hotel was was crowned "The Jewel of the Desert".  It has been an Arizona landmark since its opening on Feb. 23, 1929.

Wright always had a penchant for using indigenous materials in his projects.  Pre-cast concrete "Biltmore Blocks" that were designed by McArthur and molded on-site were the "Wright stuff" used in the construction of the Biltmore Hotel.  And much like the Frank Lloyd Wright designs that always included some sort of geometric pattern incorporated throughout a project, the Biltmore Blocks feature a pattern too; it is said to represent a freshly cut palm tree... rather perfect and definitely "Wrightian" for the surrounding environs.  In fact, Wright spent four months in 1928 doing on-site consulting relating to the masonry unit "Textile Block" construction, similar to a unit block design he had used on several buildings in Los Angeles 6 years earlier.

Typical of Wright's style are the balcony and geometric massing of the lobby.  Other notable features include the largest gold-leaf ceiling in the world (in the lobby) and a roof constructed of an incredible 32,500 pounds of copper!

A Phoenix based development firm purchased the resort in 1992 and began a $50 million project, completed in January of 1996 that completely renovated the building.  The resulting makeover salutes Wright with guest rooms and suites that feature desert colors, mission-style furnishings and 1930's style lamps.

Attracting celebrities and dignitaries from around the world -- Irving Berlin supposedly penned "White Christmas" while sitting beside the original swimming pool -- the Arizona Biltmore Resort & Spa has raised the bar to a new height when it comes to elegance and style; it has been apparent that the new owners have been committed to preserving the architectural integrity of the Wright-influenced design.  Perhaps proper homage was finally paid when, in July, 2003, the Frank Lloyd Wright Ballroom was opened at what is now the largest resort in Arizona.

Construction & Unique Features

  •  Built in 1929
  •  Textile block construction


Nearby Attractions



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Arizona Biltmore Hotel, East Sahuaro ...
Thomas A. Heinz
12x16 Photograph...
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Phoenix, AZ Map


  •  Guided tours Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, 10:00 am, $10

  •  Best way to experience the Biltmore would be to make a reservation and spend the night!

  •  Virtual tours



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