Arizona Biltmore Hotel
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|Arizona Biltmore Hotel|
|Location||2400 E Missouri Ave., Phoenix, Arizona, USA, 85016|
|Opening||February 23, 1929|
|Owner||Government of Singapore Investment Corporation|
|Management||Waldorf Astoria Hotels and Resorts|
|Design and construction|
|Architect||Albert Chase McArthur|
The Arizona Biltmore Hotel is a resort located in Phoenix near 24th Street and Camelback Road. It is part of Hilton Hotels' Waldorf Astoria Hotels and Resorts. It was featured on the Travel Channel show Great Hotels.
The Arizona Biltmore's architect of record is Albert Chase McArthur (brother of the hotel owners), yet the design is often mistakenly attributed to Frank Lloyd Wright. This is due to Wright's on-site consulting for four months in 1928 relating to the "Textile Block" construction used in the hotel. Albert McArthur had been a draftsman for Wright, and specifically asked Wright to assist with implementing the textile block system, which became a signature element of the hotel's appearance. The hotel has similarities to several Wright buildings, especially in the main lobby, owing to a strong imprint of the unit block design that Wright had utilized on four residential buildings in the Los Angeles area six years earlier. McArthur is indisputably the architect as original linen drawings of the hotel in the Arizona State University Library archives attest, as does a 1929 feature article in Architectural Record magazine. The two architects are a study in contrast with the famous and outspoken Wright being self-taught and never licensed as an architect in Arizona. The more soft-spoken McArthur was Harvard trained in architecture, mathematics, engineering, and music. McArthur obtained an architect's license in Arizona, number 338, in 1925, the year he arrived in Phoenix to begin his practice.
Adding to the confusion, FLW influences have been added to the property over the years. This includes a stained glass window design entitled "Saguaro Forms and Cactus Flowers" that Wright designed as a magazine cover for Liberty Magazine in 1926. It was fabricated by Taliesin students and installed during the 1973 hotel renovations and restoration. Reproductions of the geometric 'sprite' statues originally designed by sculptor Alfonso Iannelli for Wright's 1915 Midway Gardens project in Chicago are placed around the property. Also, the original hotel solarium was converted to a restaurant in 1973 and since the mid-1990s has been named 'Wright's'. Three on site restaurants bear Wright's name, Wright's at the Biltmore, The Wright Bar, and Frank & Albert's.
Authorship of the hotel's design is not a new dispute. Wright had condemned McArthur's use of the block system [Wright wanted square blocks as opposed to McArthur's mathematically proportioned rectangle block that was used] and publicly claimed credit for the building's design. Nonetheless, Wright issued a carefully worded letter in 1930 that was published in The Architectural Record (quoted in Brendan Gill's "Many Masks"):
All I have done in connection with the building of the Arizona Biltmore, near Phoenix, I have done for Albert McArthur himself at his sole request, and for none other. Albert McArthur is the architect of that building—all attempts to take the credit for that performance from him are gratuitous and beside the mark. But for him, Phoenix would have had nothing like the Biltmore, and it is my hope that he may be enabled to give Phoenix many more beautiful buildings as I believe him entirely capable of doing.
In 1930, the McArthurs (the owners) lost control of the property to one of their primary investors, William Wrigley Jr., who became full owner. The nearby Wrigley Mansion was built in 1931 and now operates as a private club with memberships starting at $15/year. In 1940, the Catalina pool and the Cowboy Bunkhouse areas opened; these would become favorite areas of Hollywood celebrities. Marilyn Monroe was seen[ citation needed] around the pool area, and Martha Raye was photographed playing chess on a large chessboard around the Cowboy house.
In 1962, the hotel's first air conditioners were put into service, and in 1969, their grand ballroom, designed by Flatow, Moore & Bryan Architects, was inaugurated.
In 1970, the Wrigley family sold the hotel to the Talley family. 1973 almost spelled doom for the hotel; a large fire erupted on June 21, destroying interiors of large parts of the 3rd and 4th floors and tremendous water damage on the 2nd and ground floors. It was announced immediately by the new owners that this famed hotel would be rebuilt in 90 days and opened on schedule for its regular winter season the last week of September 1973. The prompt re-building included new custom designed carpets throughout the hotel, new furniture for guest rooms and public areas, new restaurant kitchen equipment, and renovated public interiors throughout the hotel. Three separate crews were employed around the clock. In the wee hours before opening day, the final carpets were laid and the deadline had been met by a partnership of the owner, Talley Industries, the general contractor, J.R. Porter Construction Co., and the architect, Taliesin Associated Architects.
In 1979, the hotel was taken over by the Rostland Corporation. In 1983, it became a Leper DBL Biltmore Association property, and in 1992 it was re-sold, to the Grossman Properties. A spa was opened in 1998.
In July 1999, Florida Panther Holdings, Inc. acquired the property from Grossman Company Properties for $228.5M ($126M cash, $100M Florida Panther stock, and $62.5 debt assumption). Also, in 1999 Florida Panther Holdings, Inc. changed its name to Boca Resorts, Inc. At the time, Florida Panthers Holdings, Inc. also owned the Boca Raton Resort & Club, the Registry Resort, the Edgewater Beach Hotel, the Hyatt Regency Pier 66 Resort and Marina, the Radisson Bahia Mar Resort and Yachting Center and Grande Oaks Golf Club. The Company also owned the Florida Panthers Hockey Club and had interests in the operations of the National Car Rental Center located in Sunrise, Florida and the Miami Arena.
In December 2000, Boca Resorts, Inc. sold the hotel for $335 Million to KSL Recreation, Inc. KSL retained the hotel until April 2004, when it was sold to the Orlando, Florida-based REIT, CNL Hotels & Resorts as part of the corporate acquisition of six of KSL's seven resort assets. CNL was sold to Morgan Stanley in 2007.  In 2011, lenders including Paulson & Co., Winthrop Realty Trust and Capital Trust foreclosed on 8 of the former CNL hotels. in 2013, the owners reached a deal to sell the Biltmore and three other properties to the Government of Singapore Investment Corporation.  Hilton operates it as a member of the Waldorf=Astoria Collection.
In 2004, while doing a campaign stop in Arizona, United States president George W. Bush slept there, under strict security measures. Over 200 policemen, Secret Service agents and bomb-sniffing dogs were at hand.
In 2009, the Arizona Biltmore marked its 80th anniversary with two additions that reinforced the history and architectural legacy of the resort. Ocatilla at Arizona Biltmore – a 120-room addition offering the resort’s most enhanced guest services, many complimentary amenities, club accommodations and Wright-inspired décor – was named for a compound Wright built in Phoenix’s South Mountains to serve as his secluded, inspirational workplace. A new restaurant, Frank & Albert’s, was inspired by and named for Wright and McArthur. A menu was created – of comfort foods and American classics with an Arizona twist – reflecting the dual influences of the two architects.
On November 4, 2008, the McCain/Palin campaign hosted its final party at the hotel. Sen. John McCain, the Republican candidate for president, conceded defeat when he spoke to reporters and disappointed supporters on the hotel's lawn. Some supporters watched McCain's speech via closed circuit TV from the ballroom.  Former Louisiana Gov. Buddy Roemer acted as master of ceremonies for the evening's entertainment earlier in the evening, in the ballroom.
|The Arizona Biltmore Hotel |
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