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Thursday, August 16, 2012

The Jewel of the Desert

Last week I attended a legal conference on water law.  The conference was fairly mundane, my third consecutive year of attending this conference.  The one thing I look forward to every year is that the conference is at the Arizona Biltmore, the Jewel of the Desert.

If you have never visited or seen pictures of this world famous five star resort, it is an architectural dream.  It opened in 1929, seven months before the Stock Market crash that began the Great Depression.  It's unmatched character is the heavy influence of Frank Lloyd Wright both then and now.  It is timeless.

The entire structure is made from pre-cast concrete block, made on site and known as "Biltmore Block."  The strong geometric lines were designed by a student of Frank Lloyd Wright.  (Not many people know that Wright had a school of architecture - Taliesin West - in what is now Scottsdale.  He was not a stranger to the desert.)  Everything in the hotel follows these lines, from the mission furniture to the light fixtures down to the carpet.  It's like a step back in time.

Movie stars and politicians could be seen at the Biltmore pool; Marilyn Monroe called it her favorite pool.  My claim to fame is that my niece and nephew have each worked poolside at the Biltmore, my niece fetching towels and my nephew regulating kids going down the slide :-)

Every President since Herbert Hoover (in office when the Biltmore opened) has stayed at the Arizona Biltmore (with the exception of the current President).  There is a cool hallway off the lobby that has a picture of each President at the Biltmore, usually on the golf course.

So many people think Phoenix is a recent oasis that popped out the desert, but it truly does have a history.  A living testament to that history is the Arizona Biltmore.  If you visit Phoenix, or just live in the area and have never seen it, its a jewel in the desert you cannot miss.

A disclaimer - I did NOT receive any compensation, consideration or even recognition from the Arizona Biltmore for writing this post.  (I did use historical pictures from its website, but the current pictures are mine.)  I love history, this is Arizona history, and the opinions expressed here are my own.