Constructed in grand form and following the celebrated vision of Frank Lloyd Wright, the Arizona Biltmore, a Waldorf Astoria Resort, has been drawing influential, inspiring guests to its desert splendor since 1929. Explore our storied past below, and we would also be delighted to take you on a guided tour of the estate when you next visit.
The Arizona Biltmore is born; a living architectural masterpiece showcasing the work of America’s most heralded architect, Frank Lloyd Wright. Albert Chase McArthur is the hotel’s leading architect and describes the Arizona Biltmore as his most important work.
The Biltmore is erected entirely of “Biltmore Block,” a variation on a textile block first used by Wright to construct private homes. Construction on the hotel started in August 1928 and was finished in nine months. By the end, we had over 250,000 blocks, 33,000 pound of copper in the roof and the second largest gold leaf ceiling in the world, only behind the Taj Mahal.
Chicago chewing gum magnate William Wrigley, Jr. becomes the sole owner and builds the resort’s first swimming pool: The Catalina Pool. The pool takes its name from the navy blue and canary yellow Art Deco mosaic tiles that decorate its floor and were produced on California’s Catalina Island (which the Wrigley family also owned).
Marilyn Monroe declared this her favorite pool, and it is also the site where Irving Berlin wrote many popular songs, including “White Christmas.”
The Wrigley family sells the Biltmore to Talley Industries and, during the installation of a new sprinkler system, a welding torch ignites a fire, resulting in $2.5 million of damage. Taliesin Associated Architects renovates the resort in a record 82 days, create a finer, more complete hotel than had previously existed.
In celebration of this amazing feat, Olgivanna Wright, Frank Lloyd Wright’s widow, donated a stained glass piece originally created by Wright as a gift for the grand “reopening.” This piece has remained in the front entrance of the lobby to this day.
The Midway Sprites were originally designed by Frank Lloyd Wright to stand guard over the Midway Gardens in Chicago. When the Midway Gardens were demolished in 1929, the Sprites were thought to be lost—until unearthed on a Wisconsin farm where, legend has it, they had been secretly buried to promote crop growth. At the request of Wright’s widow, a mold was made of the “Solemn Sprite” and gifted to the Arizona Biltmore in 1985.
Our 19 Sprites look towards the earth, assuming the role of Gaia, the ancestral mother of life and abundance. Their aura of protection now embraces all those who welcome their solemn gaze.
Major renovation: Grossman Company Properties, a Phoenix-based firm, buys the resort and begins a $50 million renovation project.
The Ballroom: With the opening of the beautiful Frank Lloyd Wright Ballroom, the Arizona Biltmore becomes one of Arizona’s largest meeting and event venues.
Presidential visits: Ronald and Nancy Reagan celebrated their honeymoon here, and every president from Herbert Hoover through Barack Obama has been a guest.
Biltmore reinvented: This much-loved resort finally undergoes a full renovation to restore the uniquely chic allure that has captivated so many throughout its sun-soaked history.