October 28, 2011

Visiting "The Jewel of the Desert"

Last week, I traveled to Phoenix, Arizona to attend a business conference and I had the wonderful pleasure of spending the night at the very elegant Arizona Biltmore.  Completed in 1929, it is a feast for the eyes of truly amazing design and architecture.  Crowned “The Jewel of the Desert,” this resort was designed by Albert Chase McArthur, a Prairie School architect, who was mentored for several years by the great Frank Lloyd Wright, and whose influence is seen clearly throughout this magnificent Arizona landmark.  In keeping with Wright’s belief of using indigenous materials, McArthur designed the geometrically patterned “Biltmore Block,” made from desert sand and molded on-site, many thousands of which were used in this ambitious building project.

The initial estimate of McArthur’s luxurious dream resort was $1 million dollars and William Wrigley Jr., of the chewing gum empire, came in as an investor.  When costs soared because of opulent features, Wrigley Jr. became the primary stockholder.  But, then came the Crash and the Great Depression, and the Wrigleys took control of The Biltmore until 1973, with many expansions made.  The resort became world renowned to the rich and famous.  Subsequent owners have been committed to preserving The Biltmore’s architectural integrity, as they continue to grow and expand.  I was happy to see this commitment and was also very pleased to be a guest at “The Jewel of the Desert.”