Frank Lloyd Wright was a genius – at least once he quit trying to build leaky homes on top of frozen waterfalls. If you ever doubt that, spend an evening in the lobby of the Arizona Biltmore. The whole thing is constructed of sandstone blocks cast with art deco palm tree designs. The blocks are studded with square lights that cast an eerie yellowish glow. In the evening they turn on all the lights. The effect is magical. You are transported to the exotic palace of an Aztec prince sporting a bronzed six pack. The sandstone glistens alluringly. Every nook and cranny buzzes with mystery. Human sacrifice is on the agenda. I tingle with vestal virgin fantasies!
The architecture and design of the Arizona Biltmore are national treasures. The Biltmore runs regular tours so that guests and non-guests can gawk at the sandstone blocks. As one of these tours was ending I heard a dumpy non-guest, who needed to spend more time in the hair salon and less time at the all-you-can-eat buffet, bark “So this is how the Other Half lives.”
You’re wrong, Lady. The Other Half, which is now, for reasons beyond the scope of this review, called the One Percent, lives way better than this. Apart from the architecture and design of its older parts, the Arizona Biltmore was a crashing disappointment. Here’s a guided tour.
My Dearest’s and my room at the Arizona Biltmore was cramped with a gloomy palette of brown carpeting, cream colored walls, off white tiles in the entranceway, and furniture upholstered with dull grey synthetic fabric. The artwork consisted of just a print of the main hotel building and a nondescript black and white photograph, both in tacky little frames.
The closet was a shambles. It had no light so My Dearest and I had to hunt around for our clothes in the dark. A sorry collection of clothes hangers, some of which were broken, hung in a disorderly fashion from a sagging metal pipe. While the closet contained an iron and ironing board it had none of the other closer amenities that I expect in a fine hotel: no extra blankets, no lint brush, no shoe horn, and no plush bathrobes.
The in-room safe was opened using a heavy metal key that was a pain to schlep around. The safe was too small for My Dearest’s company laptop.
My Dearest needed to have shirts laundered. A fine hotel provides heaps of laundry bags and dry-cleaning forms—charging guests for cleaning their clothes is another revenue source. There were no laundry bags or dry-cleaning forms in the Biltmore closet. I guess they wanted us to wear dirty clothes.
On the positive side, the room had loads of lights, mirrors, and electric sockets. There were cavernous, if cheaply made, drawers for my stuff. The power switch on each light was easy to find. The coffee maker was nice, but offered only plastic powdered milk. (The Other Half put real dairy products into their coffee.)
The bathroom was functional but charmless. Zero décor. Thin towels that were changed only if you dumped them on the floor. Plumbing fixtures from a discount store. Cheap tiling. No hand shower. Single-ply toilet paper. Basic bathroom products from Salvatore Ferragamo, who is renowned for his leather goods not his toiletries. I did like the huge brightly lit mirror over the double sink and the illuminated make up mirror.
The maid service was amateur hour. Every day without fail they left used K-cups in the coffee machine. Dust gathered in the corners. After maid service on most days I found a sodden lump of toilet paper floating in the toilet. They never filled the ice bucket. There was no evening turn down service.
The shower stall had a visible defect that flooded the bathroom every time I showered. Although the maid had to mop up the water each day, she never got someone to fix the problem. The Other Half expect other people to deal with leaking showers and submerged bathrooms. (What else, after all, are other people here for?)
The Biltmore claims that the Catalina pool was Marilyn Monroe’s favorite. The pool is dingy and surrounded by narrow recliners jammed up next to each other like sardines in a can. It was packed with young parents and their screaming offspring. Ms Monroe would not linger there long.
Do the Other Half frequent the Arizona Biltmore? The Other Half stay in stylish and spacious rooms adorned with rich fabrics and museum quality art. The Other Half splash around in marble bathrooms with designer European plumbing, Acqua di Parma toiletries, and towels so thick they could smother a goat. The Other Half insist on having their beds turned down every night with slippers laid out and chocolate truffles on the pillows. For all these reasons the Other Half avoid this hotel if at all possible, and you should too.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Polished and refined, the Arizona Biltmore,a Waldorf Astoria Resort shines brighter than ever following a grand restoration. This historic luxury resort has been a destination of inspiration for over 86 years spanning over 39 acres of lush gardens, 8 sparkling swimming pools and iconic architecture. Championship golf, the 22,000+ square foot Spa Biltmore and fitness center, multiple restaurants, and a variety of amenities await you. Experience the unrivaled grace of this timeless treasure with a spirited soul. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Arizona Biltmore Hotel Phoenix