Arizona Biltmore: sleeping with Frank Lloyd Wright?

Discussion in 'Hilton | HHonors' started by SST, Aug 1, 2011.  |  Print Topic

  1. SST
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    SST Silver Member

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    As has been noted elsewhere, the Arizona Biltmore in Phoenix was not wholly designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, as the true first-seat architect was his protege Albert Chase McArthur, but Wright is listed as the "consulting architect" and he managed to secure a royalty on aspects of the design until apparently the 1920s investors including William Wrigley Jr. stopped paying when they discovered Wright had never secured the necessary patents.

    Quite frankly, we found it a great hotel.

    It is about 20 minutes' drive northeast of downtown Phoenix off 24th St., on 90 acres with numerous buildings composing wings, individual condos, and a conference center. The gem of it all is the main building and its gorgeous lobby, but the Paradise Wing and Valley Wing (where those of us on lower rates get put) are an enjoyable place to park for the night. The rooms in the two wings are not extra large, but they are not small and adequately furnished and while the A/C could be more efficient, we didn't find ourselves cramped or dying to upgrade. We stayed on the 4th floor with a balcony overlooking the garden rather than the main pool area, which was a blessing since there was a convention in and the pool was in use throughout the evening. It was 107 degrees F during the day in July, so this is not exactly taking liberties. My guess is it was still 90 at 10 pm.

    They do indeed claim to have invented the original Tequila Sunrise at the hotel bar, and serve their original version with juice of three limes instead of orange juice if you ask; it was delicious and a great thirst quencher. The bar service, and indeed the service at the pool and in the restaurants was all extremely friendly and attentive. Diamonds get given a 20% discount on food in the restaurants, and that resulted in a stupendous prime rib dinner for me, net cost $20, in Frank and Albert's, which was so generous this carnivore really couldn't finish the perfectly rare beast.

    Breakfasts were good at Frank & Albert's, especially the eggs, and the staff rush things from the exhibition kitchen to your table hot--- a rarity for hotel service.

    A superb restaurant about 20 minutes away in Scottsdale is The Mission, where we brunched it one day, with amazing food (Sonoran Kobe Hot Dog; coronary on a plate, but man it was good... Think of the best hot dog you ever had, wrapped tightly in bacon, with amazing relish with a kick. The thing is big and needs to be eaten with a fork and knife. My description doesn't do it justice: just try it.) Our companions ordered outrageously tasty breakfasts and tacos.

    The grounds of the Biltmore are splendid, every corner showing an art-deco or southwest touch, with Wright-esque lighting and lots of green lawns, and craggy mountains in the background. We were lucky enough to have an electrical storm on display up behind the mountains one night, yet it didn't rain at the hotel. As somebody from the Bay Area, where I maybe see lightning once a year, this was a great treat. As somebody from the Bay Area, I would have liked a cooling breeze from the storm, too, but one can't have everything. It was hot, did I say that? It was HOT.

    In fact, be sure and bring flipflops to the pool, as even the light colored areas around the pool become too hot to walk on at 107 and sunny, except where some courteous person has gotten out of the pool and dripped cooling water all over sometime earlier.... No wonder the summer rates are 1/2 the other times of the year! Still--- it was a nice couple days of pool fun. There is a kids' pool and large waterslide, which was nice for segregating the small ones away from us. However, the churning of the waterslide made the water cooler over by the kids, so I went over and tolerated the screaming for a little while as the more adult pool areas were perceptibly warmer.

    Technology in our room didn't include wireless, but the ethernet connection was fast. TV has a number of HD channels so you don't have to tolerate worse TV than at home. Beats me why most hotels tolerate LodgeNet's poor signal after investing in flat panel screens, but you won't have that problem here. The bed was absurdly comfortable--- as good as they get.

    We didn't get charged the hated "resort fee" ($28/day), or the self-parking ($12), and maybe this was a diamond privilege. The car service is $26/day, I think, but faced with "free" I know where I stand, and this freed up their lot for the big evening event at the hotel. Glad to help.

    We took the Saturday morning (10am) history tour of the property with the historian, which was well worth the stories of how the hotel was designed, built, and weathered the depression, plus the opportunity to enter some of the hidden rooms and see more than the average guest. There was a searchlight on top of the main building to guide cars in the 1920s, which served the dual purpose of being turned downward and into the booze room during prohibition, signalling the staff to lose the liquor when a convoy of the police decided to head out to the hotel. They've had fires and remodelings, they've got a Wright stained glass window and several Sprite statues around the grounds---- it's a unique, wonderful place to stay and despite the fact that we were well-done after last weekend, I look forward to coming back at a future date to enjoy the property again. Perhaps a little tennis, more time at the pool and a reopening of Wright's, the signature restaurant, which is undergoing renovations now for a few months. Hopefully it will reopen in the fall. In the meantime, the less formal Frank & Albert's is actually pretty decent, and not overpriced.

    This is a good place for a couples weekend, especially if your interests run to unique architecture.
     
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  2. NYBanker
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    Glad you enjoyed your stay. This is certainly a unique upper mid-scale property.

    One thing customers should be aware of is that this is unambiguously a conference hotel. Anyone considering staying should contact the hotel to understand their events schedule. If not careful, you may learn more about some new drug from Pfizer or opportunities in high yield bonds from Deutsche Bank than you'd normally like to on your holiday.
     
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  3. ACEDAD
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    For anyone that wants some good Louisiana cooking while visiting the Biltmore, there is a very good, down home restaurant called Baby Kay's only a short distance away.
     
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  4. DeltaExpert
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    This is a great hotel and I would highly recommend it
     
  5. DeltaExpert
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    I take it you have stayed here a few times then
     
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  6. NYBanker
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    A half dozen times, give or take. High yield bonds were always the topic for me. ;)
     
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  7. DeltaExpert
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    I just happened to be there today.... I am a member
     
  8. NYBanker
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    A member of?
     
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  9. DeltaExpert
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    Its basically a resort membership access to pool/gym/spa etc.
     

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