The Arizona Biltmore in Phoenix, nicknamed “Jewel of the Desert,” has been entertaining celebrities and U.S. presidents since its opening in 1929. Today, the resort’s charm, food and amenities attract enthusiastic fans of Old Hollywood and vacationing families alike.
Biltmore guests dine in style.
The resort’s Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired architecture is crafted from an unusual array of concrete “Biltmore blocks.” However, the Arizona Biltmore is no mirage. From the acres of wonderfully green landscape to the beautiful rooms and pools to the main lobby with its exquisite gold-leaf ceiling, the resort is truly a desert gem. (In fact, at one time, the Arizona Biltmore was second only to the Taj Mahal in the amount of gold detail.)
I recently had the opportunity to spend a weekend at the Arizona Biltmore’s “hotel within a hotel,” the Ocatilla. This latest addition features 120 guest rooms, an Olympic-sized saltwater swimming pool, meeting rooms and a dedicated concierge. The Ocatilla lounge serves a full continental breakfast on weekdays, plus snacks and a variety of drinks throughout the day. And let’s not forget the late-afternoon hors d’oeuvres and libations.
This summer’s Hollywood & Wine theme draws on the rich history of the resort, to which famous actors such as Clark Gable and Frank Sinatra have long escaped. Celebrities still enjoy the place. Clint Black performed on July 4. This Labor Day weekend, actor-director-musician Gary Sinise will appear with his Lieutenant Dan Band.
Guests can sign up for a wine-and-art-studio class. Each Saturday, instructors from the Art of Merlot in Scottsdale teach participants how to paint a version of an art masterpiece while they sip on wine and dine on an assortment of cheeses. All the materials are provided. (I painted Van Gogh’s “Starry Night.”)
Also, guests can taste wine in the lobby every Friday evening and attend a wine education class every Saturday at 2 p.m.
Every weekend this summer, artists from Arizona State University’s Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts will be in the resort’s lobby painting wine barrels based on their interpretation of the Hollywood & Wine theme.
For families, the resort offers a summer program for children age 5 and older, the Imagination Emporium. While you’re relaxing, your children get to star in kid-friendly activities, including a cooking class offered each Saturday at noon.
Many families told me that they return year after year because of the family-oriented accommodations and the fact that they are able to take the family dog.
Because Phoenix in the summer is hot, hot, hot, there are no fewer than nine pools, including the popular Paradise Pool, which has a 92-foot water slide. At Splash Cinema, kids and adults can watch films while floating on inner tubes.
Another preferred spot to cool down is the Catalina Pool, said to have been a favorite of famous guest Marilyn Monroe. If you’re a Marilyn fan, check out artist LUDVIC’s on-site exhibit, showcasing colorful portraits of the legendary beauty.
Experience the desert in a whole new way this summer – Hollywood style. arizonabiltmore.com
Wright’s at the Biltmore:
Named after the architect, one of Wright’s creations was turned into a restaurant years ago. Its menu features timeless selections presented in fresh new ways.
Dinner favorites include lobster bisque and beef Wellington. The brunch menu offers a fine display of desserts, fresh-squeezed juices, sushi and house-made pastries. During my visit, I had an eggs Benedict dish that included hints of peach.
Fun in Phoenix:
> Take a hike! The Arizona Biltmore has guides to take you on walks to nearby Camelback Mountain and Piestewa Peak. The views are gorgeous.
> Putt around: The Arizona Biltmore Country Club features two of Phoenix’s many golf courses: The Adobe and The Links. The Adobe, built in 1928 and restored in 2004, includes wide fairways and classic cross-bunkers. The Links boasts five lakes and several desert ravines.
> Make music: At the must-see Musical Instrument Museum, exhibits are divided by country of origin. The experience is enhanced through the use of wireless headsets during a recommended tour.