Beauty and Intrigue of the Arizona Biltmore

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Biltmore Sprite

When you’re on the grounds of the Arizona Biltmore neighborhood, this famed and historical hotel watches over you like the Biltmore Sprites that are stationed at the entrance.  Since I wasn’t a guest of the hotel (which someday I wish to be), I didn’t quite feel like I had the freedom to explore and get to know the hotel as intimately as I had hoped.

Many times I have golfed with my infamous, but not-so famous, friends at the same links as Frank Sinatra, JFK and Clark Gable at the Adobe course that is adjacent to the expansive hotel.  After a remodel and expansion in 2003, the Arizona Biltmore is now one of Phoenix’s largest conference centers and hotels.  So to getting to know this ginormous hotel made me feel a wee bit intimidated and tentative

IMG_3319But since I was in the neighborhood, I felt an obligation to pay this grand lodge a visit with my camera.  Maybe had we chosen a mid-day stroll, it wouldn’t have been as overwhelming and chaotic with the many party guests, weekend residents and fellow on-lookers – it felt like we had just arrived at opening day of a county fair.

IMG_3315After arriving, first we noticed what appeared to be a gaggle of students, each with a clipboard in their elbow, eager to take notes about the next stop on the tour.  Later, we saw those same students gather around an older, out-of-breath tour guide who seemed to be bestowing his knowledge of this significant period hotel and its renowned architecture.

Learn more about the history of the hotel and view historical photos the Arizona Biltmore website.

IMG_3337Once we arrived at the hotel entrance, it’s hard not to admire the monochromatic grey and intricate stonework – these beautiful Biltmore Block designs are found throughout the building, both outside and inside.  Each brick has its own photogenic quality, emanating the history behind the architect, Albert Chase MacArthur, who was a student of Frank Llyod Wright.

IMG_3325In the lush courtyard, I discovered two more of Frank’s Biltmore Sprites smiling back at me. They encouraged me to keep wandering … as I encourage you to read more about the fascinating history of these precious statues at http://phoenix.about.com/cs/famous/a/sprites01.htm

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“Saguaro Forms and Cactus Flowers” stained glass by Wright

Next, we entered the hotel lobby.  There were swarms of people, each there for a different purpose (one of which was for the NFL managers meeting!), but all seemed thrilled to be there.  My hope is that the majority of them recognized the significance of this location, and at the very least, I hope they were appreciating its beauty.  Just like a neon sign, the stained glass designed by Frank Lloyd Wright was a glowing welcome to all the guests.

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Passersby under the golf leaf ceiling of the hotel lobby.

Further into the main lobby, my eyes were guided upward to see the glistening ceiling that is gilded in gold leaf.  And the art continued to surround me from exquisite murals and tapestries to beautifully hand-carved Arts-and-Craft furniture.  Even the rugs, clocks and light fixtures delighted my senses.

For more great photos of the Arizona Biltmore visit The Trailer Gypsies.

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Wedding at Squaw Peak Lawn

Our last stop was the Squaw Peak Lawn and massive fountain that is surrounded by the hotel.  That evening we were able to witness a large wedding taking place.  While it was fun to see the guests celebrating on the lawn, I would have loved to spend more time amongst the glorious gardens where I was imagining guests from all the past decades enjoying this unique and beautiful setting.

Once we finally left the hotel, the sun was beginning to set.  As I looked back, the desert sun was leaving its last mark on the historic Biltmore Hotel.  Of course the sun will be back in its blazing fashion the next morning, just I as I hope to return to further explore this hotel another day.

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