The Crafting of Splendido
Nestled in exotic protected parklands with breathtaking views of the azure waters of Ligurian Bay, there are few destinations in the world as idyllic as the iconic Splendido, A Belmond Hotel, Portofino.
Usually referred to as the Splendido, -the hotel is continuing its legacy as an icon of style and elegance with the recent unveiling of the newly redesigned swimming pool, terrace and pool restaurant. The updates have been created by leading designer Martin Brudnizki and renowned Italian landscape architect Marco Bay, and feature Fantini Mosaici flooring and Ligurian textiles and rattan.
For decades, the sublimely beautiful and charming postcard-perfect location has been a favourite of the world’s elite, royals and celebrities who are among the gilded guests to have savoured special moments at the majestic Splendido. Luminaries like Winston Churchill, Princess Grace Kelly, Charlie Chaplin and Walt Disney have called this slice of Italian paradise their home.
Originally constructed as a Benedictine Monastery in the 16th century and set in luscious grounds planted with tropical palms, olive and citrus trees, the property was first converted into a hotel in 1902. The five-star deluxe property is managed by Belmond – part of the world's leading luxury group, LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton – and has recently reopened, having undergone a meticulous renovation in preparation for the summer season.
London- and New York-based architect Martin Brudnizki was commissioned to give the hotel a magnificent makeover where Italian craftsmanship would be the main protagonist. He created a meaningful and rich glamorous new look and feel to the hotel, which involved wrapping the grand dame of Portofino in a spectacular new veil that makes extensive use of Italian handcrafts.
Brudnizki sought the best regional expertise, appointing local craftspeople – weavers, embroiderers, artists, mosaicists and stone craftspeople – to appropriately and tastefully embellish the property both inside and out. Together, they created a new veil of luxury for the new generation of VIP guests, including influencers, rappers and TikTok stars, all keen to experience and share contemplative moments in the unique property.
The architect, who divides his time between London and New York, explains:
“For us, it was quite important to approach the rejuvenation of the Splendido like a portrait painter. The sort of tools at our disposal were all the different local crafts.
“[There is] The way, for instance, that northern Italy does the floor that they call ‘granilia’- which is a mix of terrazzo and mosaic. Then, there’s a local rattan-type weave called 'medelino’ that we're using. There is also the headboard fabric we use, which is a local fabric called ‘lampasa', made just 20 minutes from Portofino. We'll be using it all in a different way, and that's how it becomes very contemporary.”
It was hardly surprising that northern Italy-based luxury stone surface creator Fantini Mosaici was, in turn, given the honour and privilege of employing its talents and skills to create a unique floor to wrap around the swimming pool and the romantic Splendido Grill restaurant; here, holidaymakers will be surrounded by the best of made in Italy, literally from the ground up…
The transformation of the celebrated pool terrace area, famously overlooking the sparkling Ligurian Bay, now features a subtle, fine hand-made cobblestone floor with inserts of Verona marble mosaic.
Well-known Italian landscape architect Marco Bay was selected to redesign the iconic 1970s cinematographic pool to reflect the deep green-blue tones of the sea below. At the same time, the surrounding sun terrace now features stones in contrasting hues of pink, red and white, embedded with charming mosaic marble accents.
Fantini Mosaici’s master heritage craftspeople created 370 square meters of natural sandy pink pebble stone flooring that covers the terrace, the edges of the new heated freshwater pool and the restaurant.
Over 45 specially crafted mosaic inserts of green marble with a nautical theme have been strategically placed in shapes representing seashells, dolphins, starfish and hippopotamuses. The Fantini Mosaici stone artisans also installed Bedonia marble in the Happy Hour bar area, where guests can sip sunset cocktails while enjoying views of Tigullio.
“Splendido is the epitome of Italian hospitality culture and tradition. As a fourth-generation family-owned Italian company, renowned for our respect, appreciation and, most of all, the making of handcrafted surfaces that add to the richness, finesse and beauty of luxury environments, we are proud to be a part of Splendido’s enduring legacy – a hotel for cultivated connoisseurs on the Italian Riviera,” says Enrico Fantin, CEO and President of Fantini Mosaici.
As one of today’s leading restaurant and hotel designers, Brudnizki was chosen to inject his unique and contemporary design philosophy to blend tradition with design, which is synonymous with Belmond's vision and respect for heritage.
Using local materials and traditional craft, Brudnizki and his team blended different colours, fabrics, textures and styles to create inspiring and emboldened contemporary spaces, including the new Baronessa Suite. The interior architect mixed heirloom antiques with a modern elevated perspective. Inspired by the traditional Ligurian coastal lifestyle, his design features delicate references to the region, from black and white Carrara and Lavagna stone flooring to the local Albissola ceramics and the original Margerin frescos.
“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. It was important that the design situates guests in Portofino, creating that comforting feeling of being at a friend’s holiday home while allowing them to experience the beauty, art and life of this magical place," says Brudnizki.
Once again, Fantini Mosaici, which has been creating handcrafted flooring and surfaces for some of the most prestigious hotels, palaces and residences, is at the forefront of the recent renovation of one of the world's most desirable hotels, and in the company of some of the most distinguished names in the realm of luxury heritage craftsmanship.