A bit over a week ago I took a trip to Phoenix to take advantage of some outrageously inexpensive summer resort rates, and to experience some equally outrageous dining. I’ll go through each of the hotels over the next few days, but the first night I stayed at the Arizona Biltmore, which is a Waldorf Astoria Resort.
I booked my stay through American Express Fine Hotels and Resorts, and the $99 rate included the following:
- Room upgrade upon arrival, when available
- Daily continental breakfast for two
- US$100 food and beverage credit to be used during your stay
- Noon early check-in, upon availability
- 4:00 pm guaranteed late check-out
I arrived at the resort around 5PM, and took advantage of self-parking in the nearly empty lot. The exterior was well-maintained, and the landscaping in good repair despite the 100+ degree temperatures.
The property was surprisingly busy, though there was no queue at check-in. I was helped promptly and informed that as a Hilton HHonors Diamond I’d been granted an additional upgrade, in addition to the Fine Hotels & Resorts benefits. Technically Diamond upgrades at Waldorf Astoria properties are only to a “preferred” room, so this was a nice perk.
I was assigned a room in the “Terrace Court”, which was across the garden from the main building, and on the far side of the rather large resort complex.
The interior courtyard had a cactus garden, along with a pool that would not have been out of place at a Motel 6.
I had been informed of my suite upgrade at check-in, but was surprised to see my room number on the sign listing the specialty “named” suites. Generally suite upgrades are only given to standard suites, so this was a substantial upgrade.
The suite had an exterior door, so presumably the adjacent room could be locked-off to create a two-bedroom suite.
The room was spacious, though the floorplan was awkward, and combined with the bulky furniture felt incredibly dated.
The living room featured a “bar” area, which had its own alcove, though didn’t really seem to add anything to the room.
The half bath was in an alcove off the hallway, and was small but functional.
The hallway itself had a random cutout between the half bath and bedroom, which seems like a great place to hide if you want to scare someone entering or leaving the room.
The bedroom was large, and the furnishings were in good condition, though awkwardly placed, which made the room feel somewhat cluttered.
The bathroom was similarly large, with a separate shower, tub, and toilet room.
The shower was comparatively small, though the water pressure and temperature control were excellent.
The bath amenities were the hotel’s own brand, and the packaging featured the same art-deco motif as the bathroom mirror and the concrete blocks on the building exterior.
For as overly-furnished as the interior of the suite was, the patio was embarrassingly sparse, and felt very exposed.
Later in the evening I spent some time walking around the property, which was nicely illuminated, with several seating areas and firepits.
When I inquired about the breakfast benefit I was informed my voucher could be used at either the main restaurant or the coffee shop. I had some friends joining me, so we opted for Frank & Albert’s, which served breakfast until 11AM on the weekend.
Apparently reservations are recommended, though it was nearly empty when we arrived. We still had to wait several minutes to be seated, however.
My voucher stated it was valid for the “Consortia Breakfast for Two”. This was supposed to be a continental breakfast, though wasn’t listed on the menu. In practice, our waitress said they would just take the maximum value of the voucher ($40) off the check, so that ended up being a very good deal.
The menu read as follows:
We took a glance at the “buffet”, which was so spartan I didn’t even bother taking a picture. The a la carte menu is definitely the better choice here. I selected the créme brulee french toast, which was tasty, though rather sweet (not that that’s a bad thing!).
My friend had the huevos rancheros, which was nicely presented.
Given how empty Phoenix restaurants are in summer, I was expecting the service to be more attentive, but service in the restaurant was extremely slow, and it took multiple requests to have drinks refilled, which is always frustrating.
After breakfast I checked out the gym, which was shockingly crowded. The equipment was new and in good repair, but the physical space was rather small.
The sports club facilities also included tennis courts, along with a putting green, croquet court, and lawn chess.
The pool complex was beautiful, and was fairly empty in the early morning.
I then spent a few hours getting work done, and met up with friends at the pool in the early afternoon with a goal of spending the remainder of my food and beverage credit. Despite how empty the resort appeared, the pool was packed, with nearly every seat taken.
Spending $100 poolside was surprisingly easy, as the Biltmore had one of the most expensive bar menus I’ve ever seen. The shrimp cocktail (consisting of five shrimp) alone was $18!
Overall, this is one of the odder properties I’ve visited. The exterior was architecturally interesting, and the landscaping was mature and quite well-maintained. The interiors, on the other hand, featured clunky, cheap-looking furniture, and felt incredibly dated. While I would consider mattress-running here again, I don’t know that I would necessarily recommend the Biltmore as a vacation resort until they’ve completed their room renovation.
Still, having paid a $99 rate and having received a huge suite and $140 worth of food and beverage credit, I can’t really complain. 😉