Splendid Splendido!

The grande dame of Italian resort hotels, has been given a dust down and polish up by Martin Brudnizki.

Harriet Quick takes a tour

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The Terrace at Belmond Splendido Mare

@belmondhotelsplendido // Instagram

The smell of calamari, the gentle revving of a Riva speedboat and that pine and cypress scented air – the Ligurian Riviera has bewitched generations and now Portofino has a new/old hotel to lure you back to the harbour flanked by its citrus and terracotta hued villas. The property, a former monastery perched on a hilltop, has a many layered history serving both as a noble family’s summer home before being turned into a hotel in 1902.  In the 1950s, as Americans discovered the coastline, The Splendido attracted Hollywood royalty, socialites and moguls alike with Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, Ava Gardner and Lauren Bacall all signing in for sojourns that stretched from days to weeks. 

The Orient Express Hotel group purchased the premises in the mid 80s, before it rebranded to Belmond in 2014. The group was then bought out by LVMH in 2018 and now comprises of a 50-property portfolio that includes Hotel Cipriani and Grand Hotel Timeo in Italy. 

So how do you transform a beacon of hospitality and style into a contemporary sanctuary? LVMH called in Martin Brudnizki and Festen Architecture. “Splendido is an icon and so our approach to the project was similar to that of a portrait painter, creating a design centred on the building and one that is as much a restoration as a rejuvenation. We looked to the local flora and fauna and architecture for influences while also championing Ligurian craft to ensure the rooms felt luxurious as well as contextual,” says Martin Brudnizki who deployed copious metres of white Carrara marble and Lavagna stone for floors and walls, Albisola ceramics, delightful frescoes, rattan loungewear and Murano glass. The pool has been restored to its former splendour while the wisteria covered La Terraza restaurant offers a menu by chef, Corrado Corti that includes Santa Margherita Prawns and a golden spaghetti and tomato dish devoted to Elizabeth Taylor. Such simple tastes! Boat trips along the Fruttuoso bay, tennis courts and a Dior Spa promise to keep heart and soul together.

Jump on a buggy and you will reach the sister hotel – the 14 room Splendido Mare with its Loro Piana textiles, art collection and ‘50s nautical inspired deco realised by Festen Architecture. Such is the detail, graphic design studio Micha Weidmann found local sign painters to hand paint all the signage and lettering with a distinctive trompe l’oeil shadows and reliefs. The only extra required is a ticker that records the number of times guests and staff declare Splendido!

Belmond Hotel Splendido

@belmondhotelsplendido // Instagram


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