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A Stay at the Arizona Biltmore After Its Massive Renovation

The property continues to build on its legacy as it celebrates its 95th anniversary

The Arizona Biltmore, a Waldorf Astoria resort / Photo: Austin Larue Photography

Properties with a rich, glory-filled history usually evolve in one of two ways. They either fall out of favor altogether and never reclaim their status, or they become even better and continue to build their legacy. The Arizona Biltmore, a Waldorf Astoria resort in Phoenix, happily falls into the latter category.

I checked in to the property to see how it had fared after a $150 million renovation. Of course, I wasn’t there during the Biltmore’s initial heyday from the 1930s to the ’60s, when Hollywood stars and the elite set clamored to stay. I can say, however, that if the resort was anything like it is today, I, too, would have been enamored.

The Arizona Biltmore is celebrating its 95th anniversary this year. The acclaimed architect Albert Chase McArthur, a disciple of Frank Lloyd Wright, built the 39-acre resort in consultation with Wright himself. In his classic style, geometric designs are a defining feature. From the outset, socialites, celebrities including Marilyn Monroe, and political heavyweights descended here to lounge and imbibe at the bar or by the pool and soak up the desert atmosphere.

Cottage bedroom / Photo: Courtesy of Arizona Biltmore

A series of owners over the years, including the Wrigleys of the chewing-gum company, operated the Biltmore, but eventually it became outdated, little resembling its original life as the most luxurious place to stay in Arizona. Now the Biltmore is back, perhaps cooler than ever.

Architecturally, it’s impressive. A team of architects, designers and other specialists have re-created McArthur and Wright’s original Biltmore Blocks, using the same desert sand material. I was taken with the reimagined contemporary and somewhat edgy style interspersed with a throwback to the past—a feature obvious everywhere throughout the property.

However, I was most wowed by the service. Every staff member I encountered was warm and knowledgeable about the resort’s history. Each interaction yielded a fascinating tidbit, and by the end, I had amassed a tapestry of keepsake stories.

Beyond this, they accommodated every need and request. They knew my dietary allergies, aversions and loves—no gluten, dairy, onions or garlic, but bring on the lean seafood, salads and tequila. My welcome amenity, to start, was Patrón Blanco accompanied by margarita ingredients.

The Arizona Biltmore’s 705 rooms are spread over various categories, from traditional guest rooms to accommodations with firepits or by a pool. There are also cottages, suites and residential villas that are ideal for longer stays and small groups. My husband and I stayed in a cottage that felt like a glamorous abode, with a spacious layout including a living room, kitchenette, large bath and bedroom and patio.

Tierra Luna Spa / Photo: Courtesy of Thomas Hart Shelby/Goat Rodeo Productions

But I wasn’t going to confine myself in my room, especially when the resort has so many amenities. Why not hang out by the swimming pools, for example? There are seven in all, along with four hot tubs, and for daredevils, a 65-foot-tall twisting waterslide. Guests can also play tennis or pickleball or retreat to the Tierra Luna Spa.

This 28,000-square-foot respite has a gorgeous outdoor area overlooking the nearby mountains, a cold plunge pool, a halotherapy room and a “wellness bar” that serves zero-proof cocktails. My treatment suite’s high ceiling gave it an open ambiance, and my deep-tissue massage worked out my knots and aches. Facials, soaks, body scrubs and many massage styles are more treatments to consider.

Now to the eating and drinking. The Biltmore has seven venues to choose from and a team of high-caliber chefs who worked at some of the top restaurants in the country, such as Jean-Georges in New York.

Renata’s Hearth restaurant / Photo: Courtesy of Austin Larue Photography

Renata’s Hearth, with an eye to Latin flavors, is the place to be for dinner. The ceviches, seafood entrées and meats have body and depth while the wine list and knee-deep tequila and mezcal collection make not imbibing a challenge.

McArthur’s, serving an old-school American menu, and The Wright Bar, offering tapas, are two of several other choices. Wherever you eat, be sure to bookend the meal with drinks at The Spire Bar, a sleek alfresco watering hole.

For the business traveler, the resort houses 77 meeting spaces. The staff is well-versed in orchestrating events and ensuring that they’re a success.

I was sad to leave the Arizona Biltmore so soon, as I had barely absorbed its breadth. I had stayed for a night, but a week would have been best.