Splendido Mare, a secret refuge in Portofino and a Belmond hotel (part of the LVMH Group), will reopen its doors in April 2021. Following several months of renovation and a completely fresh makeover by Paris design agency Festen Architecture, Splendido Mare is again ready to welcome lovers of Italy’s renowned dolce vita.
From a guest house for fishermen to a haven for discerning travelers avid for magical experiences, the history of Splendido Mare is emblematic of Belmond’s commitment to preserving the heritage if its remarkable properties while remaining faithful to the spirit of the destination. Splendido Mare is the first hotel Belmond has renovated since joining the LVMH Group in 2019. To revive the allure of this guest house with its cinematographic charm at the heart of the famous Piazzetta in Portofino, Belmond called on Festen Architecture, a design agency co-founded by Charlotte de Tonnac and Hugo Sauzay.
The new design by duo draws inspiration from the history of Splendido Mare, its modest beginnings, as well as the traditional landscape of the Ligurian Riviera. “We want guests to feel comfortable, at ease but also feel the historical spirit, and we want them to feel the connection we try to create between the design of the hotel and its surroundings,” says Charlotte de Tonnac.
Emblematic Ligurian pastel tones traditionally used to decorate the facades and window shutters of houses along the coast accent ceilings in the hotel. A palette of amber and sea green evokes local tradition, as do the white and yellow tiles of the bathrooms, inspired by the beach cabins in neighboring resort towns.
A nautical atmosphere permeates the property. The 7,000 terracotta tiles in the restaurant recall the sun reflecting on undulating water, says Hugo Sauzay. Wood traditionally used for the boats anchored in Portofino harbor has been hand-varnished to decorate 14 rooms and suites with evocative names like La Marea (the tide). The headboards of the beds integrate rope patterns in the marquetry, while Splendido Mare’s nautical knot emblem is reprised in the room keys. Festen Architecture has blended iconic Italian codes from the 1940s and 50s with local craftsmanship and contemporary spirit. Walnut armchairs by Guglielmo Ulrich join table lamps by Oscar Torlasco, and the design of the wooden floor is inspired by Portofino’s San Giorgio church.
Exquisite materials sourced from Italian regions have pride of place, such as Carrara marble, Murano glass wall lamps and refined Loro Piana fabrics. The curated art collection includes commissioned pieces with a modernist simplicity by artist Gabriele Cappelli, as well as cinematic photography and artworks. Another inspiration was Ava Garnder, who stayed at Splendido Mare while filming The Barefoot Contessa by Joseph L. Mankiewicz in 1954.
Splendido Mare also called on Milan-based fashion designer Arthur Arbesser to create stylish attire for the staff. A finalist in the 2015 LVMH Prize competition, the designer has created elegant mid-century modern silhouettes with geometric patterns. He was inspired by the stunning beauty of Portofino national park and its distinctive light. The deep blue of the uniforms, which are woven in Tuscany, evokes the changing colors of the sea depending on the time of day.