Fourteen sublimely private and controlled acres deploy a succession of gardens crazed with flowers and trees, separated by little gates and laid out with the whimsy of an English estate. It is a feat to find your room, but on your way you bump into teams of gardeners busily planting pansies and stock, trimming hedges, cutting lawn. The reception area is casually set up, as if guests were suddenly coming to the mansion and something had to be done to greet them. The Arizona Inn was built in 1930, in what was then the desert, by the rich and compassionate Mrs. Isabella Greenway. Moved by the number of disabled World War I veterans in Arizona, she had started a company called the Arizona Hut to give them employment making furniture. With the Wall Street crash she ran out of orders, found herself with enough furniture to fill a hotel, and built the first part of the Arizona Inn in three months. It was described as "a simple home-like cottage hotel," where the very rich would move in for months at a time, along with their servants, their lapdogs, and their little habits. The Arizona Inn has been the home of old-fashioned virtues ever since, and is today a kind of nature conservancy for consideration, respect, trust, and manners. Today, 50 years after Mrs. Greenway's death, staying there is like being the guest of a vastly wealthy great-aunt with centuries of Yankee tradition behind her, who is very happy that you are there but doesn't really want to see too much of you. Afternoon tea is served in an immense library with dark oak tables and plenty of tempting books to borrow. Rooms are huge, furnished with mahogany, and where the mini-bars, in the best WASP tradition, are empty. The only correct things to find in there would have been graham crackers, lemonade, and rusks. Guests can take breakfast by the large but curiously private pool. The marmalade is made on the premises, thick, sweet, and rugged with peel. Dine on an extravagant dinner (think fig and Madeira–glazed Chilean sea bass) in the restaurant and leave feeling like one of the many movie stars that have stayed on this famous property.
Congratulations to Mei Lin, winner of Top Chef Season 12.