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PHOENIX-A California-based hotel chain has purchased the state’s largest and most renowned resort hotel for $335 million.

KSL Recreation Corp., a La Quinta, CA-based hotel corporation, purchased the Arizona Biltmore, a 730-room, Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired resort in Phoenix.

“We plan to build on its history and continue to enhance what is already here,” says Scott Dalecio, president of the resort division of KSL.

The seller of the resort was Boca Resort Inc., a Florida-based company headed by Chairman H. Wayne Huizenga. The company has been looking to unload a number of its assets in the past year, including the Biltmore and its NHL team, the Florida Panthers.

The Arizona Biltmore was developed by chewing gum magnate William Wrigley Jr. When it opened in 1929, it was called the “Jewel of the Desert.” The distinctive architecture of the resort was designed by a student of Frank Lloyd Wright, who served as a consultant on the project. Every U.S. president since Herbert Hoover has stayed in the resort, which is near the 24th Street and Missouri Avenue.

The 39-acre resort was the first recipient of the prestigious Mobil Five Star Award more than 40 years ago. Institutional Investor magazine recently rated it the No. 7 resort in the world and No. 3 in the nation.

Grossman Company Properties purchased the resort in 1993 and spent nearly $50 million on a complete renovation and new room additions. Grossman sold the resort to Boca in 1998. Since then Boca has spent million dollars more on upgrades and adding new rooms. An additional 120 rooms were added to the resort in 1999.

KSL Recreation Corp. was formed in 1992 by former executives of Vail Associates Inc. based in Vail, CO and the investment firm of Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. The private company has been aggressively purchasing a number of top resorts ever since. KSL lists assets totaling more than $1.2 billion, which include: the Claremont Resort & Spa in Berkeley, CA; Doral Golf Resort & Spa in Miami; and the Grand Wailea Resort Hotel and Spa on Maui.p

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