85016 Travel Guide
If you've ever wandered the legendary Arizona Biltmore Resort, you've likely stumbled upon a photo of the "Mystery Room," though never the room itself as the location has long been — you guessed it — a mystery. That's all about to change; last week we were among the first to learn that this mysterious room will soon be revealed and restored to a version of its former self as a speakeasy lounge.
Back in the day, the cozy club masqueraded as a "Men's Smoking Room" requiring a secret password for entry and accessible only through a secret passage that started behind the resort and traveled up a hidden staircase from the kitchen. In many ways it was a true man cave, where gentlemen could kick back to smoke cigars and pipes, swap news about the stock market and sip on bootleg setups of gin and juice.
A clever fuzz buster was in place, too, with a spotlight that was officially known to guide guests at night, and unofficially used to search the desert for police raids. Whenever a raid approached, the spotlight would shine through the Mystery Room's stained glass roof, signaling guests to return to their rooms and the booze to be tucked back into the room's hidden bookshelf.
Go shorty, it's your birthday, Arizona Biltmore's gonna party like it's your birthday…
We'll warn you now: this song may be playing in the lobby of the Arizona Biltmore when you check in.
This historic Waldorf Astoria property totally digs you getting one year older, so they're offering a free room for you during your birthday month (a minimum of two nights booking is required). To make it a serious party, they're also throwing in a cupcake and balloons delivered straight to your room. Bring your own party hats, though.
We suggest rounding up an active crew as this birthday bash is going to be off the hizzle: there's eight swimming pools, including a 92-foot-long water slide; 18-hole PGA golf course; seven tennis courts; mountain biking; hiking; life-size chess lawn and a 22,000-square-foot spa.
We've kicked off our Summer Cocktails series where we profile fun new summer drinks that hotels are making. Got one we should know about? Send us the recipe with a photo of the drink. Otherwise, enjoy and @reply us when you're wasted!
The last news we heard from the Arizona Biltmore was about the not-in-a-hurry renovations (dates like "sometime before 2020" were getting tossed around) so we're happy to have something more concrete to report: the Biltmore's got a special summer cocktail, and it's a classic.
Something we didn't know is that the Tequila Sunrise was apparently invented at the Biltmore, back in the 1940s when a frequent guest asked the bartender to make him up a refreshing drink to sip by the pool. So to help celebrate the Biltmore's 80th anniversary this year, they've brought their classic cocktail back to life for the summer. Of course, the price is a little more than that first guest paid back in the 1940s – these days you can get a Biltmore Original Tequila Sunrise for $14.
Those $100-or-Less rooms at the Arizona Biltmore are going to be a thing of the past, we assume, since the very-much-in-need-of-renovation property has just gotten the go-ahead for a major makeover to the tune of $600 million.
According to a press release:
The renovation calls for a new world-class spa with corresponding amenities, a fine-dining restaurant, neighborhood-friendly upgrades to trails, traffic enhancements, pool and landscaping redevelopment, a promenade along the Arizona Canal, a new resort entrance design and 300 new rooms. The renovation will take place in two phases with the first beginning immediately and the second starting sometime before 2030 and will be dependent on demand and market conditions.
But don't expect this stuff for a while. The first phase of the project will be a $120 million spa redesign, the planning of which will be starting right away but groundbreaking probably won't happen until late 2010..."assuming economic conditions improve."
Seems like a whole lot of these Waldorf-Astoria Collection hotels have been getting quite a bit of work put into them lately; The Boca Raton Resort and Club just got a makeover, The Roosevelt New Orleans got a total restoration and renovation, and even the original Old Lady Waldorf herself is getting some work done.
Every now and then, we'll be profiling hotels for $100 or less. Yay! Know of any other bargains? Send 'em to us.
If you didn't know, The Arizona Biltmore in Phoenix is part of the Hilton family of Waldorf-Astoria Collection Hotels, so for this luxury property (and host to every president except Obama), to have rooms going for $80 a night is kind of insane. But it's for real.
As part of a Mother's Day celebration and the Biltmore's 80th anniversary, the hotel is offering rooms for $80 for 80 hours. The special rate is only bookable for 80 hours starting yesterday and ending Friday, May 1, 2009. The rate is also only available for the dates of Friday, May 8 to Monday, May 11, 2009.
When we plugged in the Mother's Day weekend rates we actually found rooms for the rate of $69. Crazy! However, the resort does charge a $28 resort fee, bringing your nightly total to $97 a night. That fee includes include high-speed Internet, access to the fitness center, local, 800 and credit card calls, and a newspaper. To book, go to the Biltmore's special offers page and enter code MOM in Group/Convention code field.
John McCain is probably never going to go back to the Arizona Biltmore again. Bad memories, we think.
Last night as the polls on the West Coast began to close, the presidential candidate conceded defeat in a poignant speech to supporters on the lawn of the sprawling Phoenix resort just after 10 p.m. CST.
According to Salon, as the rest of the country saw election returns that showed Barack Obama emerging as the clear winner, the McCain supporters gathered on the Biltmore lawn didn't really realize it was over since there were no TV's outside.
But at least they were comfortable! Per Salon:
Most of the people at the Biltmore were wealthy Republican donors, not furious grassroots conservatives, and they seemed to know what the night's outcome would likely be before they arrived. The spread was lavish enough to keep them comfortable; even the Port-a-Potties set up on the lawn seemed extravagantly luxurious, with wood paneling on the walls.
Meanwhile, McCain sat back and watched election returns throughout the evening in the Biltmore's Goldwater Presidential Suite (uh, by the way: wouldn't superstition have stepped in here at some point considering the outcome of the 1964 Goldwater campaign?) before heading out to the lawn to concede the presidency.
Yeah. Surely he won't be hittin' up the Biltmore again anytime soon.
While normally the protocol is for him to stand up in the hotel's ballroom and give a big ol' speech to everyone in attendance at some point during the evening, he has decided to go all out and crazy and shake things up a bit by offering his election night remarks to a small group gathered on the hotel's lawn. Pause for gasps.
Historic Hotels / Phoenix Hotels / Desert Retreats / Political Hotels / Waldorf-Astoria Collection / → All Tags
Here's a bit of hotel trivia for you: The term "presidential suite" came from the European tradition of "royal suites," but, as we don't have royals (no, the Kennedy's don't count), we termed the best room in the house the Presidential Suite.
In other words, it has nothing to do with whether a president has stayed there or not. Yet, while most hotels use the term as misnomer, not proof of political pedigree, the Presidential Suite at the Arizona Biltmore Resort & Spa can use the title quite literally. Every U.S. president since Herbert Hoover has stayed in the Suite while in office.
The Arizona Biltmore Resort & Spa has launched podcasts for its hotel guests (past, present and future) that detail the amenities and experiences awaiting them at the resort. Six podcasts have been created ranging from a "conversation" with the chef and winemaker of the Frog Leap Restauranta to a history lesson of the hotel to a look at the treatments offered in the spa.
"Through our podcasts, we can connect with the affluent, tech-savvy consumers of today who are looking to enjoy the finer things in life," said General Manager Sean Maddock. "Podcasts allow us to differentiate and personalize the resort, while informing guests of all the wonderful amenities and experiences awaiting them at the Arizona Biltmore."
Wow, what will hotels think of next? If you're interested you can download the podcasts through the hotel website or iTunes and listen to them on your iPod or computer. And we just remembered the Arizona Biltmore is managed by Hilton Hotels and is actually a member of their Waldorf-Astoria Collection. Could the Waldorf blog or podcast be far behind?
· Arizona Biltmore Resort reviews [TripAdvisor]
[Ed. Note: Welcome to our Good Rate/Bad Rate feature where we look at hotel prices in the same city and decide which one most deserves your hard-earned benjamins. Rates quoted here were captured on April 3, 2007 and are subject to change. Enjoy.]
We started poking around looking at Memorial Day weekend deals and found a $169 rate at the Ritz-Carlton Phoenix (this week's Good Rate) on Orbitz. It looked like a few other hotels were dropping their own rates as a result for that weekend, but not the Embassy Suites. In one of those weird twists you see when one company takes longer to blink, it'll cost you more to stay at the Embassy Suites in Phoenix than it will to stay at the Ritz-Carlton a few blocks away.
Now we understand that you'll be able to go downstairs to get breakfast without paying extra at the Embassy Suites, as well as more room to stretch out on a couch, but we get those things at home too and don't get all that excited about them. If you're going to get away somewhere for the weekend, and pay the same price, go for the fine linens and toiletries in a place where everyone is trained to suck up to you instead of leaving you to your own devices.
Our guess is that this rate won't stick, so if you need some extra room in Phoenix over Memorial Day, check back in a week or two and see if the nightly price has dropped. As a bonus, you'll get valet parking for $8 a day, which is one-third what a spot will cost you at the Ritz.
· Good Rate: Ritz-Carlton Phoenix for Memorial Day Weekend [HotelChatter]
[Ed. Note: Welcome to our Good Rate/Bad Rate feature where we look at hotel prices in the same city and decide which one most deserves your hard-earned benjamins. Rates quotes here were captured April 3, 2007 and are subject to change. Enjoy.]
With hotel occupancy rates at their highest level since 2000, it pays to plan a bit ahead on holiday weekends. Fortunately, that's when a lot of city business hotels are hurting for business, so you can snag a deal if you look around. Take this $169 Memorial Day weekend rate through Orbitz at the Ritz-Carlton Phoenix.
This isn't one of those Scottsdale golf resorts: The R-C is four miles north of downtown Phoenix in the Camelback corridor. Golf is only three blocks away though and it is across from the Biltmore Fashion Park upscale shopping complex. You get a view of either the city skyline or Squaw Peak mountain.
Alas, with Ritz-Carlton the rate quoted is only the beginning of their hand in your pocket. You'll pay $10 a day for Internet access and valet parking is $24 per night. Many of the reviews on TripAdvisor call the place disappointing by Ritz-Carlton standards, especially when it comes to the (lack of) grounds and the service. Hmmm, maybe that's why the reviews on Orbitz are dead links?
But hey, with a lot of the nearby hotels charging similar rates (see this week's Bad Rate) and this one often flirting with $400 mid-week, this is a good deal if you were planning to head to Phoenix.
· Ritz-Carlton Phoenix reviews [TripAdvisor]
· Bad Rate: When Embassy Suites Phoenix Cost More Than the Ritz Carlton [HotelChatter]