Making of the Mare


25th January, 2021 – 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 fishermen 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.“ Charlotte de Tonnac – Co-Founder, Festen Architecture.


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 Gardner who personifies mid-century glamour and was a frequent visitor to the guest house when filming ‘The Barefoot Contessa in 1954 with Humphrey Bogart.


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. Rooms have been named to reflect each element of the design inspiration, with La Marea (tide), Fiocco (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.


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, Gabriele 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.


Notes to Editors

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About Belmond

Belmond has been a pioneer of luxury travel for over 45 years, building a passion for authentic escapes into a portfolio of one-of-a-kind experiences in some of the world’s most inspiring destinations. Since the acquisition of the iconic Hotel Cipriani in Venice in 1976, Belmond has continued to perpetuate the legendary art of travel, taking discerning global travellers on breathtaking journeys. Its portfolio extends across 24 countries with 46 remarkable properties that include the illustrious Venice Simplon-Orient-Express train, remote beach retreats like Cap Juluca in Anguilla, Italian hideaways such as Splendido in Portofino, or unrivalled gateways to world natural wonders such as Hotel das Cataratas inside Brazil’s Iguazu National Park. From trains to river barges, safari lodges to hotels, each unique property offers an incomparable experience with its own story to tell. The essence of the Belmond brand is built upon its heritage, craftsmanship and genuine, authentic service. Belmond sees its role as custodians of timeless heritage, dedicated to preserving its assets through sensitive ongoing restoration plans. Belmond is part of the world’s leading luxury group LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton.


About FESTEN Architecture

FESTEN Architecture was born from a collaboration between Charlotte de Tonnac and Hugo Sauzay after they both graduated in interior design from Camondo School in June 2011. FESTEN conceives and arranges public and private living spaces as well as scenographic spaces and installations – a variety of universes ranging from places to objects. The context, the original site, the history and the purpose of the place are the starting points for each project FESTEN undertakes, thus aiming at creating meaningful spaces. FESTEN likes to work on the transformation of classical spaces expressed by an enhancement of the original structure, always looking for simplicity and relevance, as well as a bespoke and contemporary understanding of the project.

About Arthur Arbesser

Arthur Arbesser is a Milan-based brand founded in 2013. Born and raised in Vienna, Arbesser was deeply immersed in the city’s history and culture as he grew up. After graduating from London’s Central Saint Martins College he moved to Milan to work for a leading fashion house for several years. Subsequent to launching his label and being a finalist of the 2015 LVMH prize, he quickly became recognized for his graphic aesthetics and personal design language. Aside from his namesake label, Arbesser is a creative consultant and also works on numerous collaborations from furniture to product design. Costume design for ballet and opera complete his creative world.

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