He had a little help from grand Arizona Biltmore herself. This stately building opened in 1929. Architect Albert Chase McArthur, a Harvard graduate, had studied under Frank Lloyd Wright and the latter's influence is visible throughout. More info here for you FLW lovers.
The "Jewel of the Desert" has played hostess to many a famous person. For example, Irving Berlin wrote White Christmas while sitting by the pool. ;-)
I arrived at the lobby at my appointed tea time. I wanted a private, special tea to do some reflection on my life (I'd just hit a major milestone). Kevin greeted me warmly, talked about how he also loved having tea alone, and then seated me in the best seat in the lobby. Tears welled in my eyes, I was so touched.
Then Kevin walked me through the tea menu, helping me to select a tea that would pair well with the first course of savories and sandwiches. I chose the white ginger pear tea to begin, and it worked beautifully with the food.
I had the opportunity to observe Kevin interact with the other guests and I was very impressed with how he gently guided them through the tea selections and experience of afternoon tea, providing tidbits of tea history, information on tea's growing and processing, and plenty of encouragement and smiles...all the while ensuring our teapots were hot and full and our courses served in a leisurely but yet timely manner. He exemplified the professional server.
Over the warm raisin rum scones, I shared with Kevin my love of tea and this blog. It was then that we became friends. I do hope to keep in touch and plan to visit every opportunity I have. (More trips to AZ, please!) I'm showing the jam and real clotted cream below because he suggested I try a generous serving of cream with lemon curd and a dollop of raspberry jam on the scone. Delicious!
Desserts were amazing and plentiful! At this point, Kevin suggested I switch to another tea and I tried the Chai. By the way, teas were prepared as they should (in my opinion): Loose leaf, steeped to perfection and then the leaf removed, and hot. Tea Forte is the brand.
I want to say thank you to Kevin for making my afternoon tea experience one that I will never forget. His thoughtfulness and enthusiasm for afternoon tea were true gifts and I was pampered from beginning to end. In fact, when he discovered that it was my birthday, he left me with a gift...extra scones and a container of tea. This was a 5-star afternoon tea experience.
A few more Biltmore pictures...Sprites, originally designed for Frank Lloyd Wrght for Chicago's Midway Gardens. They've had a perilous path to the West. They were found in a farmer's field, restored and now grace the entrance to the hotel.
This gorgeous stained glass panel greets you as you walk inside. Frank Lloyd Wright designed the panel and called it Saguaro Forms and Cactus Flowers. Wright originally created this work as one of twelve covers commissioned by Liberty magazine in 1926-1927. Unfortunately, the designs were rejected as too radical by the publisher.