Jeri Clausing
Jeri Clausing

*logoIn the latest in the ongoing quest by luxury hoteliers to create unique experiences and give something back to the community, the Arizona Biltmore in Phoenix next month will launch a Concours d’Elegance classic and exotic automobile event.


Concours d'Elegance is a French phrase meaning a “competition of elegance.” It stems from a practice by the 17th century aristocracy in Paris, who would parade horse-drawn carriages in the parks on summer weekends and holidays. The practice evolved into competition among owners of prestigious cars.
Modeled after famed concours like those in Lake Cuomo, Italy, Pebble Beach, Calif., and Amelia Island, Fla., the Arizona Concours d'Elegance on Jan. 12  will display 80 vintage automobiles, from Bugattis and Maseratis to Packards. The event will benefit Make-A-Wish Arizona.JeriClausing
Hotel general manager Mike McMahon said the Arizona concours was the vision of local car enthusiasts who wanted to do something for charity during the area’s annual vintage car auction week. So they decided to court the country’s finest classic cars to display for what organizers and the hotel hope will become a signature event.
“It’s fascinating to watch it come together,” he said. “We ... have over 200 vintage automobiles that applied to participate. But that field has been narrowed to about 80 cars.”
The vehicles will be on display on the Biltmore's Squaw Peak Lawn, which has a stunning mountain view. And prizes will be awarded for vintage, classic, sports, racing and exotic cars, as well, of course, as the coveted Best of Show.
Keith Martin, publisher of Sports Car Market and American Car Collector magazines, will be the event’s host and emcee. Special rates for the night start at $259. Advance car show tickets are $50 through the end of the year.
McMahon said the event fits in the Biltmore's long established commitment to giving back to the community. It’s also just the latest of examples of emphasis of meeting demand for what McMahon describes as “curated experiences.”
The Prohibition-era resort, among other things, also recently reopened what was a secret speakeasy, offering guests a visitors a chance to party like it’s the ‘20s.
Indeed, "experience" and "unique" were the buzzwords at the recent International Luxury Travel Mart in Cannes.
As Danny King reported from the show, the emphasis this year was on experience over extravagance.
One hotelier, Jean-Francois Ferret, CEO of Relais & Chateaux, has gone so far as to ban the word luxury.
“Our target is authenticity,” Ferret told the group.
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