Splendido Mare by Design Reviving The Alluring Spirit of Portofino

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The Making of ‘The Mare’

Splendido Mare, a Belmond Hotel, Portofino, is set to re-open in April 2021 following a complete renovation by Paris design agency, Festen Architecture; the first to be renovated under LVMH ownership. The opening of ‘The Mare’ revives the timeless allure of Portofino, embraced within a charming guesthouse.

“We like to work on the transformation of classical spaces – delving into a storied past to conceptualise its future. For Splendido Mare, we are cherishing its humble beginning as a guest house for fisherman and the cinematic setting of Portofino. The redesign evokes a stylish home where contemporary and vintage pieces co-exist to provide a timeless feel.

“We want guests to feel comfortable, at ease but also feel the historical spirit, and we want them to feel the coherence we try to create between the design of the hotel and its surroundings,“ told Charlotte de Tonnac – Co-Founder, Festen Architecture.

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Detailed references to the harbour’s nautical history can be found throughout the property, each of the 14 rooms and suites feature locally sourced and hand-varnished wood, traditionally used in the fishing and sailing boats that dot the harbour. Rope patterns are woven into the marquetry of the headboards, handcrafted by renowned textile designer Véronique de Soultrait.

The nautical knot is the emblem of the hotel and is referenced through detailed touchpoints from the bespoke designed glassware and crockery and the individual room keys. The 7,000 terracotta tiles, handmade by local Ligurian craftsmen and laid in the restaurant, feature the undulation of the water to create a feeling of walking on the sea.


The traditional Ligurian colours of the harbour buildings are found in a palette of amber, terracotta and sea green, used to accent the archways and ceilings. The pastel colours are symbolic of the region and have been used to decorate the facades and window shutters for generations. The design of the wooden floor is inspired by the church of San Giorgio in the town.

The bathrooms are designed to create a calming sanctuary, inspired by the neighbouring ‘Santa Margherita’ beach cabins, white and yellow geometric tiles form bold striped walls enhanced against a pure white marble floor.


Mid-Century modern Italian furnishings celebrate the iconic 1950s era that defined Portofino’s glamorous history and an important time for Italian design. Each guestroom features authentic antiques including fruitwood armchairs by Paolo Buffa and Gio Ponti – selected for their graphic and joyful style.

Walnut armchairs by Ulrich Guglielmo and table lamps by Oscar Torlasco create a sense of welcoming nostalgia, especially for many Italians who grew up with similar pieces in their family homes.

One of the suites is inspired by Ava Gardener who personifies mid-century glamour and was a frequent visitor to the guest house when filming ‘The Barefoot Contessa in 1954 with Humphrey Bogart.


Rooms have been named to reflect each element of the design inspiration, with La Marea (tide), Fioco (jib), Gozzo and Riva (boats) in reference to the nautical heritage; La Baia (bay), Aurora (new dawn), Libeccio (southwesterly wind) and Tramontana (northerly wind) in reference to the surrounding beauty and natural phenomena that shape the bay and geography of the area.

Blending references of the past with timely relevance, Festen has combined traditional craftsmanship, reinterpreted in contemporary ways, alongside antique objects and custom-made furnishings. Every detail has a sense of place, with all materials locally sourced and handmade including Carrara marble in the bathrooms and slate on the terraces. The furnishings are layered with soft Italian fabrics by Loro Piana and Rubelli and the wall lamps are from Murano Glass.


Fashion designer, Arthur Arbesser, has been commissioned to design a stylish attire to reflect the detailed design elements. Recognised by Vogue and LVMH as an emerging talent in fashion, Arthur is passionate about creating timeless pieces that celebrate the destination.

In order to create an overall aesthetic of relaxed sophistication, Arthur has created elegant, mid-century modern silhouettes for the uniforms, working with geometric patterns, nautical detailing and botanical references from the national park.

A curated art collection includes specially commissioned pieces by Italian artist, Gabrielle Cappelli, renowned for his modernist simplicity and an uncomplicated allure that he applies to his practice, matching the timeless elegance of Portofino. Cinematic photography and abstract pieces by Ligurian artists have been selected for their portrayal of the destination and its iconic history and landscape.

To stay up to date as the story unfolds on the reopening of Splendido Mare, follow @belmondsplendidomare, or visit belmond.com to book.

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