Click to Stay At The Arizona Biltmore

While at the hotel front desk checking out we completed our usual vacation ritual: we mailed ourselves a postcard. Even if it is just a short visit, we do this to remind us of what an excellent time we had, because as we all know, the memories of a vacation often fade much quicker than the sunburn. In whatever time it takes, either a few days or weeks, for the ___ (fill in the blank with the appropriate country's postal system) to deliver our postcard to the doorsteps of our home, our vacation refresher arrives. We typically use a picturesque postcard of the one thing that will remind us most of where we've been and what we've enjoyed. We try to keep our message succinct, and in this case, it only needed to say nine necessary words, "Sweet dreams from The Arizona Biltmore Resort & Spa."

The lobby of the Arizona Biltmore
is resplendent with rich woods &
tile, with a comfortable sitting area.

By writing this on our postcard, it appeals to one of the most basic instincts that our unscientific minds are confident is genetic and originates from the early days when cave men roamed the earth. Of course, we're referring to the utmost in primal urges and is the lusting after the cocoa concoction of the gods commonly known as chocolate. It's a proven fact that there is no better way to make my wife weak in the knees than to hook her up with the rich creamy goodness of chocolate coupled with a good cabernet wine. In this case, at the Arizona Biltmore Resort and Spa, they made a point to put two delightful squares of Godiva chocolate on our pillows each night of our glorious stay. This obviously resulted in the sweet dreams that rounded out each day's jam-packed activities planned at The Arizona Biltmore Resort and Spa.

Like chocolate, the Arizona Biltmore Resort and Spa has an equally rich and luxurious history. On February 23, 1929, Albert Chase McArthur, an architect, builder and former architectural student of Frank Lloyd Wright, and Frank Lloyd Wright, his consulting architect, christened this to be the jewel of the Arizona desert. With its 39 beautifully landscaped acres it quickly became Phoenix's premier destination resort.

During this project, Frank Lloyd Wright's Usonian concrete block was used extensively. This was a concrete block that was poured on-site using local indigenous materials and was often poured into a mold that had a decorative geometric motif. Frank Lloyd Wright was once quoted as saying, "I believe in God, only I spell it nature." In the only remaining hotel he designed, this massive architectural creation is reminiscent of a Mayan temple and uses a repeated organic form of a crosshatch design inspired from the trunk of a desert palm tree as the main focal point. This design is known as "The Biltmore Block" and was created by southwest sculptor Emry Kopta.

Over 250,000 various flower
bulbs planted annually
throughout the grounds add
dramatic beauty, and their
sweet aroma wafts
throughout the resort.

Since Mr. Wright's greatest inspiration came from nature, and nature was readily available for all to enjoy, it only made sense that this now 74-year-old, very well maintained structure nestled in the foothills of Squaw Peak should remain a legacy for all to use and admire. Whether the guests were Marilyn Monroe, Clark Gable, Frank Sinatra or even today's movie stars, The Arizona Biltmore has been a haven for not only the rich and famous, but for all seeking a relaxing experience in one of the beautifully appointed 736 guestrooms.

The Arizona Biltmore Resort and Spa also has the largest banquet and conference facilities in Arizona and has won many prestigious awards. With its numerous extensive renovations, this resort remains as a Four Star tribute to natural beauty melded with outstanding architecture. Many places claim to be influenced by Frank Lloyd Wright's architectural style, but this resort is the real thing that guests return to year after year.

Two PGA 18 hole championship
golf courses, a complimentary
putting course, seven
lighted tennis courts, a
22,000 square foot spa,
lush landscaping and
eight swimming pools beckon
you to come enjoy.
Photo: Main pool' &
90 foot slide

Each building and guest room expresses Frank Lloyd Wright's attention to meshing the interior design with the exterior architecture in a harmonious fashion.

For example, the up lit second level elevation in the Mayan temple-like resort lobby draws your attention upward to the 376,000 shimmering 4" x 4" gold and copper leaves that were hand applied to the two-story 38,000 square foot ceiling as they reflect both natural and artificially created light. The backlit glass "Biltmore Blocks" throughout this huge space provides soft indirect lighting while perpetuating the geometric palm tree motif.

Often, these Biltmore Blocks, the signature of the Arizona Biltmore, are interchanged and rotated to create various geometric patterns throughout the entire resort. The warm earth tones of gold, green, taupe, yellow, rust and tan give a soothing calm to the numerous conversation seating areas, carpeting, rugs and wallpaper.

The desert colored high-backed chairs create what Frank Lloyd Wright would call, "a room within a room" and provide intimacy while still amid the hustle and bustle of the huge lobby. Sturdy copper tables in various shapes with glass or granite table tops anchor heavy woven fabric covered chairs, while low wide leather ottomans resting within niches soften the texture of the gray poured concrete block walls and create volume.

Wood craftsman and mission-style furnishings and textiles provide a sense of luxury while resting on carpeting and area rugs with repeating geometric shapes. Brightly colored blue, green, orange and red original geometric stained glass windows provide fun splashes of color.

The horizontal glass windows
in the Arizona Biltmore's
Wright Restaurant are a
Frank Lloyd Wright trademark.

As typical with many Frank Lloyd Wright buildings, horizontal glass windows are plentiful and allow natural light in and shadows to be created throughout different times of the day as the light plays with the natural pottery, candles, and sculptures. The varying textures of art glass doors obscure shapes and invite you to touch and experience the luxury of the space. The large wood planked floor helps to give an earthy, natural presence to the space. It is easy to explore, experience and be one with this interior design as it draws you in and helps you escape and be immune from all the troubles in the world as you faintly hear the ivories on the baby grand piano being tickled off in the distance.

Our cottage was one of the original structures built on this now sprawling maze of "Biltmore Block" buildings and well tended lawns and gardens that comprise The Arizona Biltmore complex. Throughout, room service attendants can be seen using tricycles with huge baskets to make their speedy deliveries of champagne or snacks to the many Biltmore guests lounging in their rooms, or reading the complimentary newspaper on their private patios. Inside our cottage, heavy mission-style furniture and southwestern art filled the interior of this 500 +/- square foot suite. A crisp white painted concrete fireplace proudly showed off the signature Biltmore Block accent motif as it anchored the room and drew all eyes towards it as the main focal point.

The comfortable cottages,
top; right: order a sumptuous
breakfast of campions in the
poolside cabana.

A huge tweed lounge chair invited me to rest and soak in the experience while drinking a glass or two of white wine. A very well stocked honor bar, television access to the internet, and cable television could easily keep people hostage in their room so they would never venture forth and experience some of the many planned daily treats, like fresh s'mores by the fire pit in the evening, cigar rolling classes, or complimentary wine tastings where your wine is poured by the winery owners themselves. With impeccable housekeeping constantly pepping up the room every time we left, we were easily impressed, especially at night when we found two gorgeous hunks of Godiva chocolate awaiting our return.

As I lounged on the exquisitely comfortable bed resting my head on the comfy brown stuffed leather headboard, my eyes were drawn across the room toward the artificial skylight pouring light onto the marble counter and floors in the restroom. You know, Frank Lloyd Wright certainly would have approved of the natural light, especially in the corner of the room near the desk where two walls of casement windows merged into a corner. I believe Frank would have called this, "deconstructing the box." Savoring the Godiva chocolates, our sleep came easily and was filled with deep, dark chocolate dreams.

Biltmore Blocks were used to construct the massive outdoor firepit.

Naturally, we were starving when breakfast came around, so we quickly showered, got dressed, and passed the thousands of blooming flowers as we strolled to The Biltmore Grill for breakfast. Each morning we were treated to outstanding meals topped with very professional service as we were seated outside under the big blue sky with white fluffy clouds as our ceiling. While we sat gazing at the monolithic Biltmore Block fire pit, we were amazed at how everywhere we looked the "signature blocks" were there to refresh our memory of how critical nature is in our lives.

Remember to not feed the friendly, yet, aggressive Arizona birds, lest they scarf down your entire meal as they flitted from palm tree to fichus tree and back. My wife enjoyed her cinnamon French toast with almonds as I thoroughly enjoyed my Mediterranean Frittata plump with artichoke hearts, olives, mushrooms and other tasty veggies.

On our second day, we overslept, quite possibly due to the intoxicating Godiva chocolates, and found lunch at The Biltmore Grill to be equally as pleasing as we enjoyed a BBQ tuna burger with loads of ginger, and Thai shrimp salad served outside on the patio. While we ate, we watched children playing chess on a large outdoor chess/checkers board set up in the bright green grass. As they laughed, we demanded to have the recipe for the breadsticks with kalamata olive aioli dip. Two words to describe the dip: Oy veh! As usual, service was top-notch at this restaurant that's open for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

The Wright Sprite welcomes guests
to the Arizona Biltmore gardens.

Prior to checking out, we meandered our way past the Biltmore Sprites, statues designed in 1914 by Frank Lloyd Wright for the Midway Gardens, as they kept watch over the grounds. We passed one of the pools, where nine people were laden with underwater weights and were doing underwater aqua aerobics. The friendly instructor told us that the goal was to tone, and get a cardio workout while in the water and ensuring a low impact workout was body friendly. Fun, but we chose to lounge in the sun watching. Next, we found the Kids Kabana, where hands on fun was the order of the day.

This fenced, outdoor shaded pavilion was a mecca for kids of all ages. Everything from pool tables, foosball, air hockey, slides, ping-pong, an agility course, swings, and a jungle gym were there to entertain. Not to worry, the ground was covered in a squishy, recycled tire material that would cushion any accidental fall quite well. The chain link fence walls were covered with a natural desert scene complete with saguaros, barrel cacti, Biltmore Sprites, and Biltmore Block structures that complimented the building architecture and Biltmore Block theme. We quenched our thirst from the outdoor water cooler, successfully tested the very cool outdoor walkie-talkies and bid farewell to this tactile treasure that was chock full of kids.

Lastly, we again perused one of our favorite shops at the Arizona Biltmore Resort and Spa, The Wright Home. It was here that we easily could have splurged $3,000 on 7' tall stained glass totem poles with Frank Lloyd Wright inspired designs that we absolutely loved. We seriously toyed with spending $300.00 on a real concrete AZ Biltmore Block, but decided that we'll get one on our next visit.

In summary, this was a great trip to an ultimate destination resort. Yes, like many people we overheard, we can easily see ourselves as yearly regulars at The Arizona Biltmore Resort & Spa since there's so much to do that we didn't even get a chance to attempt. Never fear, not all of next year's vacation are planned. Well, at least it was until we learned of the chocolate induced sweet dreams from the Arizona Biltmore Resort & Spa.

— By Kim and Donald Tatera, Jetsetters Magazine Southern California Correspondents.