5 Reasons to Love The Arizona Biltmore

With a new golf course and a swanky clubhouse about to open, it’s once again the “Jewel of the Desert”

For more than four decades after its grand opening in 1929, the Arizona Biltmore was a luxuriously appointed oasis accessible by invitation only. Originally outfitted with 235 rooms, the resort has since tripled in size and is now open to the general public. In early November, the Arizona Biltmore Golf Club unveiled the Estates course—a complete redesign of the original Adobe course, circa 1928—making now the ideal time to rediscover this Phoenix resort originally christened the “Jewel of the Desert.”

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The Arizona Biltmore

1. Charting a New Course

To create the new course, Tom Lehman used the existing corridors but redesigned all 18 holes, adding sweeping raised-face bunkers that not only inject character but also force golfers to think strategically from the tee. Boldly contoured greens serve as the primary defense against low scores, and because almost all of the site’s 94 acres are grassed, players can be creative with their shotmaking. “You only have a forced carry when you choose to have one,” Lehman says.

2. The Wright Stuff

If you have a penchant for craft cocktails, pony up to the marble countertop at The Wright Bar inside the lobby. Sporting an elegant Art Deco aesthetic, this saloon of sorts attracted Hollywood’s Golden Age elite—Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin reportedly staged impromptu, late-night performances here—and it was at The Wright Bar during the 1930s that resident bartender Gene Sulit created the original Tequila Sunrise, which tastes miles away from the bastardized, orange juice-laden version that was spawned four decades later.

Estates Course

3. Haute Hangouts

Whether you tee off on the Estates or the Links course, set aside a couple of post-round hours to enjoy the new clubhouse. Set for a grand opening in April, it will offer panoramic views of the Estates course and South Mountain in the distance. The almost-20,000-square-foot space is designed to look and feel like a residential estate and will feature an upscale restaurant, sports bar, golf simulator suite, private dining room, and roof deck.

4. By Design

Although strongly inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright, the Arizona Biltmore was designed by Albert Chase McArthur, older brother of the resort’s founders, Warren and Charles. The property features numerous artifacts connected to Wright, however, including a work of stained glass commissioned by his widow in 1973. The piece is based on the architect’s colored pencil drawing “Saguaro Forms and Cactus Flowers” and is prominently displayed just inside the resort’s main entrance.

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The Wright Bar

5. Steeped in History

The Arizona Biltmore’s past is varied and fascinating—two reasons to book a 90-minute walking tour, during which you’ll learn about the founders’ early “Wonderbus” excursions; the Hollywood A-listers who frequented the property during the 1940s, ’50s, and ’60s; and which sitting U.S. Presidents have checked into this playground. You’ll even get a glimpse inside the hotel’s mystery room, a smoking chamber that doubled as a speakeasy during the Prohibition years.

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