Manhattan: Meet the desert.
Douglas and Sonia Bendt often stroll from their penthouse to the landmark Arizona Biltmore Resort & Spa in Phoenix. The journey is just across a stone bridge over the historic Arizona Canal, part of a system originally dug by the Hohokam Indians to green the desert more than a millennium ago. The Bendts’ 3,190-sq.-ft. home is part of the Fairway Lodge at the Biltmore, a two-phase project designed by the Tempe office of RSP Architects and developed and marketed by Phoenix-based Geneva Holdings.
Inspired by contemporary furniture designer Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, the Bendts’ three-bedroom home is crisply articulated, airy and filled with light. It’s a showpiece space that’s elegant and at the same time open-armed, which is fitting as the gregarious Bendts are frequent entertainers. She’s an interior designer; he’s a mortgage and real estate investment advisor; and they live primarily in New York City. For now, their Arizona getaway is sunshine, elbow room and strolls to wine-tastings at the hotel. In time, this will become their retirement abode.
“We wanted to live in a sophisticated community in the best location and yet have easy access to all the things we love—museums, the art scene, shopping and fantastic restaurants,” says Sonia, a New York City native who holds a certificate from the prestigious New York School of Interior Design. Born in Wisconsin, Douglas has lived in New York City for 28 years. In 1993, they met in the city and three years later they exchanged vows atop Aspen Mountain in Colorado, as two eagles soared above them, she recalls.
They moved into the home in October of 2007. “I love the hectic pace of New York City, but when I arrive at the Biltmore and see the open space and the views, I fall in love with it all over again,” Sonia says. “And, I think the second Doug walks in when we arrive from New York and he sees the golf course, he smiles just thinking that he will soon be playing his favorite sport!”From three balconies looking south, they see the resort’s Adobe Golf Course, the community pool and spa, and the city lights. Two additional balconies, at the den and guest room, look north toward the Biltmore and up to the Phoenix Mountain Preserve and Piestewa Peak. “There’s really nothing like it in New York City, but the closest equivalent is Fifth Avenue or Park Avenue,” Douglas says.
“The key reason we decided to buy was because we knew this site can never be duplicated and it will never have the views obstructed,” Douglas says, who also touts the home’s immediate proximity to the outstanding community clubhouse and gym. In recognition of the unique location, the developers tied the architecture to that of the Wright-inspired Biltmore by using similar tiling, railing and other details. Notably this year, the hotel celebrates its 80th birthday.