The Arizona Biltmore

I have a lot of memories at The Arizona Biltmore hotel, from brunches with my family when I was younger to always stopping in after shopping at Biltmore Fashion Park.  And, oh, the history!  It's not only a hotel landmark in Arizona, but a place that oozes so much legendary fabulousness that it's as important to the state's heritage as the cactus. I had the pleasure of stopping in last week for a delectable dinner at Frank & Albert's & catching up with what's new at The Biltmore.

The hotel is classic Arizona at its best. Starting with its famous honeymooners (Clark Gable & Carole Lombard, Ronald & Nancy Reagan), on to its presidential prestige (every president since Herbert Hoover has stayed here, while John McCain gave his concession speech here in 2008) and finally, its Hollywood connections.  I remember Kelly Ripa talking about her staying here on her annual trip west on Live! a few years ago.

The Cottage where Reagan HoneymoonedThe Biltmore was designed by Albert Chase McArthur, with Frank Lloyd Wright consulting on the textile block construction on the exterior.  Everything feels very "Frank Lloyd Wright-esque" despite him working on the project only briefly.  After the Depression, McArthur lost ownership of the hotel and it passed to the William Wrigley family, of chewing gum fame.  The Wrigley family had a winter home in Phoenix, just a couple of minutes from the hotel.

Lobby

Frank & Albert's name is a nod to that partnership and a great place for dinner. I loved AZ touches like catus-shaped bread and a local beer list. There's classic comfort food taken up a notch, like flatbread with salmon, chickpeas, cherry tomatoes and pecorino. We tasted meatloaf with chipotle ketchup, and ravioli with ricotta, summer peas, cremini mushrooms, and a sweet potato puree. Washed down with an AZ peach-infused beer!

Frank and Albert'sThere are 740 keys but I would never have known if I hadn't looked it up.  The resort never feels big and with eight gorgeous pools, there are plenty of areas to play in.  The Biltmore also opened Ocatilla in 2009, its 120-room "hotel within a hotel" with enchanced service like a club lounge and its own pool. When I popped into the club lounge, there were people laughing and enjoying a drink.  So it wasn't one of those hotel lounges where no one goes, but rather a fun, social place.

I loved all the pools, especially Marilyn Monroe's favorite pool, the Catalina pool. Each tile comes from Catalina Island off the coast of Orange County, a Wrigley family favorite.  There is a huge water slide and swim-up bar in another area.

The Catalina PoolThe hotel, like others in Arizona, has unbelievable summer rates and fun events, like Hollywood & Wine, which welcomes celebrity chefs like Gesine Bullock Prado, Sandra's sister. And trust me, the heat isn't that bad in the summer.  Your hair will remain frizz-free and straight!

Tip: Don't miss a visit to nearby Wrigley Mansion, the Wrigley family's winter escape from Chicago, which has some of the best views in the Valley! Lunch at Geordie's is really fun.